A trip over the Newfound Gap Road has often been compared to a drive from Georgia to Maine in terms of the variety of forest ecosystems one experiences. Starting from Cherokee, North Carolina, travelers climb approximately 3,000 feet, ascending through cove hardwood, pine-oak, and northern hardwood forest to attain the evergreen spruce-fir forest at Newfound Gap (5,046'). This fragrant evergreen woodland is similar to the boreal forests of New England and eastern Canada.
At nearly a mile high, Newfound Gap is significantly cooler than the surrounding lowlands and receives much more snow. Temperatures at the gap may be 10° F. or more cooler than in the lowlands and precipitation falling as rain in Cherokee may be snow at Newfound Gap. On average, 69 inches of snow falls at the gap.