Image from Gatlinburg Convention & Visitors Bureau
Your Guide to Seeing the Smoky Mountains Fall Foliage
There’s never a bad time to visit the charming mountain towns within the Great Smoky Mountains. Each season offers a different experience and an array of activities. As the crisp fall air rolls in, you’ll notice the treetops change from green to vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow. What makes fall such a fantastic time to visit the Smoky Mountains is taking in the fall foliage.
When to View the Fall Colors
The leaves in the Smoky Mountain region typically change in early to mid-October and peak in early November. When temperatures are cooler, the leaves transform from green to bright reds, oranges and yellows sooner.
During this time, traffic in the towns of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg does increase. Be patient as you drive along the scenic byways and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Where to View the Fall Foliage
Higher elevations tend to have their fall colors peak near the end of October while the rest of the area follows behind. Keep this in mind when you choose where to view the fall foliage.
There are several different places throughout the region to view the breathtaking fall foliage.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Whether you choose to hike, bike or drive, there are several different ways and places to take in the national park’s fall views. There are a number of hiking trails within the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park that are great for getting some exercise and viewing the fall colors. The scenic roadways are perfect for a leisurely drive or pulling off to stretch your legs and really experience the scenery.
Take in the impeccable fall colors from the top of Clingmans Dome. The nearly 7,000-foot-tall tower is the highest peak in the Smoky Mountains and in Tennessee. On a clear day, observers can see for over 100 miles.
Bike or drive to Cades Cove, a beautiful valley surrounded by the Smoky Mountains. This is not only a great place for observing the local wildlife but also taking in the autumn colors.
Click here to read more about where to view the fall colors at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Gatlinburg, a hub for attractions, entertainment, dining and more, boasts several places to see the fall foliage, each offering a different experience.
Drive along the Gatlinburg Bypass to reach the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook. This free overlook boasts views of the city and amber-colored treetops.
Catch views of the changing treetops on a high-flying zipline tour through Anakeesta. Or, take a leisurely stroll 40–60 feet above the forest floor on the park’s Tree Canopy Walk.
Click here to read more about where to view the fall colors in Gatlinburg.
If you’re visiting nearby Pigeon Forge, you can also experience fall in the Smoky Mountain region.
Standing at 200 feet tall, the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel offers views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This observation wheel comfortably allows up to eight guests to take in views of The Island with the lush, vibrant treetops in the background. Fully enclosed and climate controlled, the wheel is perfect for fall sightseeing.
Take a leisurely drive from Pigeon Forge to Townsend on Wears Valley Road. This scenic 15-mile road borders the lush amber-colored foliage and mountain peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains National Parks.
Click here to read more about where to view the fall colors in Pigeon Forge.