The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States! It has some of the best hiking, fishing and wildlife viewing you'll find in the U.S. We're sharing the inside scoop with you so you can plan your next trip to the Smokies.
3 Fun Ideas for a Day Trip in the Smoky Mountains in Fall
- September 27, 2018
Autumn is a spectacular time to visit the Smoky Mountains as the fall foliage creates a dazzling array of colors in the mountains! This is a popular time of the year in the Smokies as guests come from all over the world to view this picture-perfect scenery. If you want to make the most of your vacation, check out these 3 fun ideas for a day trip in the Smoky Mountains in fall:
1. Clingmans Dome Observation Tower
Experience the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at Clingmans Dome! The observation tower on the summit provides stunning 360-degree views of the Smokies, which can expand for more than 100 miles on clear days! To reach the observation tower, simply travel for 7 miles to the end of Clingmans Dome Road. During your drive, you will find plenty of scenic pullouts with endless views of ridges and valleys. The road ends in a large parking area, which is the starting point for a 0.5 mile trail the summit. Although the trail is paved, it is quite steep and considered too steep to be wheelchair accessible.
2. Newfound Gap Road
Another wonderful destination for a day trip in the Smoky Mountains in fall is Newfound Gap Road. This is one of the most popular places to view the incredible fall foliage, and it offers 31 miles of gorgeous mountain landscapes! This scenic road runs from the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg and travels over the mountains into Cherokee, NC. This is the only fully paved road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the only one that travels through the center of the park. Due to the elevation, the temperatures along Newfound Gap Road can be up to 10 degrees cooler than the lower lying areas. Therefore, be sure to bring a jacket along if you plan to get out and enjoy the scenic overlooks!
3. Cades Cove Loop
One of the most picturesque drives to take in the fall is the Cades Cove Loop, which winds for 11 miles through the national park. This drive can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending upon traffic conditions. The slow pace makes it easy to view the fall foliage and breathtaking mountain landscapes. In addition to the fall colors, you can get out and visit a wide variety of historic buildings including a working mill, log homes, cantilevered barns and 3 churches. During your drive, keep a watchful eye for wildlife such as white-tailed deer, fox, coyote and elk. Black bears can also be seen during the Cades Cove Loop during the fall season, so maintain a safe distance at all times!
Now that you know where to take a day trip in the Smoky Mountains in the fall, be sure to return to the Smokies during the other seasons of the year too to enjoy the beauty of the mountains! The spring brings spectacular wildflowers to the region, while the summer offers longer days to explore the great outdoors. While the winter months may be chilly, the snow-covered peaks of the Smoky Mountains create a true winter wonderland! Learn more about fall in the Smoky Mountains, then come see the gorgeous fall foliage.