I just went to NC two weeks ago and I took the 70/25 route through Newport TN and Hot Springs NC.
That was a GREAT drive. LOVED IT!!!! and will probably go that way from now on.
Oh, and yeah I-40 is open now. Only one lane westbound, but both lanes eastbound....
I only recently discovered this route as a valid detour to Asheville from Knoxville. I have always had aversions to driving through Cocke County (those of you from the area will know what I'm talking about). But I'm with you, it was a beautiful drive that was easier on the gas tank than the 81\26 detour.
I heard an attorney in federal court describe Cocke County like this: "It's as if the movie Smokey and the Bandit was filmed there two weeks ago as a documentary."
Right now you have a sink hole on I-24 around the Monteagle exit. But there are other routes that arn't to bad. you can get off of I-24 on to hwy 72 in South Pittsburg to hwy 231/431 and go through huntsville Al then get on Hwy 64 in fayetteville TN then to hwy 50 wich will take you through Lynchburg TN ( home of Jack Daniels) then it will bring you to Tullahoma just outside of Manchester. 231//431 and 64 are four laned with plenty of stores to make any pit stops.
coming from knoxville to roo i always go I-75 to chatt to I-24 into GA and then back into tn to roo.... As long as you dont do anything stupid, WATCH THE SPEED LIMIT!!!!, dont write anything on the cars, and save the party for roo and not the roads then you will be fine. This is really the quickest way to go IMHO. I live in knoxville and have traveled to many parts of the state.... not really sure about getting off the interstate and driving back roads. Last year i met up with my girlfriend in cleveland tn (aprox 60 miles south on 75 of knoxville) and drove to manchester and it took us no more then an hour and 15-20 min... i did it in 2 20 in 06 and 07 from knoxville.