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the smoky mountains in the fall

Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Smoky Mountains in the Fall


The beautiful fall season is right around the corner, and if you’ve never experienced the Smoky Mountains in the fall, take this opportunity to see why it’s such a popular vacation destination during the autumn months. 

Best Places for Fall Foliage in the Smoky Mountains

You can admire the bright fall colors from the deck of your Smoky Mountain cabin rental, from your vehicle as you drive along, as well as hiking trails and popular attractions. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Exploring the national park during the fall is a completely different experience than the summertime! Cades Cove, the Roaring Fork Motor Trail, and the many historic sites and waterfalls are even more fun to explore with the incredible backdrop of fall foliage. 

a stream and fall foliage in the smoky mountainsGatlinburg: Attractions in Gatlinburg that offer outstanding views of the Smoky Mountains in the fall include Anakeesta, Gatlinburg SkyPark, and the Gatlinburg Space Needle. The Ober Mountain Aerial Tramway just might offer the best panoramic views of Gatlinburg from the enclosed gondola. Also, we recommend taking the Gatlinburg Bypass road and stopping by the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook, one of the best and most iconic places to snap the perfect family photo!

Pigeon Forge: For incredible views in Pigeon Forge, the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel at The Island is the most obvious choice. You’ll be amazed at just how far you can see from 200 feet in the air! Legacy Mountain Ziplines offers breathtaking views and a unique experience all in one, so it’s a must for thrill seekers! For a more laid-back afternoon, spend some time at Patriot Park admiring the natural beauty of the Smokies– there’s nothing better than a picnic and perfect autumn weather. 

Peak Times for Fall Colors in the Smoky Mountains 

Fall color displays can begin as early as mid-September in higher elevations, with beech, cherry, and birch trees turning beautiful shades of yellow. In early October, the leaves begin to fully develop, so peak times for Smoky Mountain fall foliage are between mid-October and early November in mid and low elevations, where the full reds and oranges are at their most vibrant.  

Ways to Experience Fall in the Smoky Mountains 

Besides enjoying all of the attractions, shops, and restaurants the area has to offer, here are a few things you can do to make the most out of your trips to the Smokies during the fall season:

Go on a hike: You can’t go wrong with any hiking trail to experience the Smoky Mountains in the fall, but we recommend Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Smokies, and the Alum Cave Trail. Along this trail, you’ll reach Inspiration Point, an overlook where you can see the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains. 

road between colorful fall trees in the smokiesTake a scenic drive: You could easily spend hours driving along Newfound Gap, stopping at the many pull-offs for views of the Smoky Mountain fall colors. Another pull-off of US-441, Morton Overlook is a must-stop and might just be the best place to see the sunset!

Go ziplining: As mentioned previously, ziplining is a thrilling activity that provides some of the most spectacular mountain views, especially during the fall! 

Attend fall events and festivals: One of the most well-known fall festivals in the area is Dollywood’s Harvest Festival, but there are many more events, such as Oktoberfest and Fright Nights, plus corn mazes and pumpkin patches like Kyker Farms!

Have we convinced you to visit the Smoky Mountains in the fall? Read more about why you should book one of our cabins this fall, and we hope to welcome you to the Smokies very soon!