Fall in the Smoky Mountains
September 11, 2019

Autumn is one of the most popular times of the year in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The weather gets cooler and more comfortable, and the leaves start changing colors! It’s a beautiful time in the Smokies, and you probably want to know more about it! Here are the top 4 things to know about seeing the Smoky Mountains fall colors:

1. When the Colors Change

mountains in the fall

Everyone wants to know exactly when the leaves start to change colors. Predicting when the leaves will start to change is hard since no one knows what the weather will do. Usually peak color time is mid-October to early November. At high elevations, the color of leaves can start to change as early as mid-September.

2. How You Can See the Colors

You have a variety of options when it comes to how you want to see the Smoky Mountains fall colors. The most popular way is to drive on popular scenic drives through the national park. Want to be out in nature while you admire this time of year? There are a ton of hiking trails throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where you’ll have great views of the fall colors. When the fall colors are in pique season, any of the hiking trails will be full of all the different colors! An unusual way to see the colors would be to take a helicopter ride over the mountains. You can also find great views of the colors from any attractions that get you high in elevation.

3. Where You Should Go

fall leaves

You’re probably wondering where some of the best spots are to really get the most out of your search for Smoky Mountains fall colors. If you’re wanting to drive, the Foothills Parkway has great views of the incredible Smoky Mountains fall colors. Cades Cove is another popular place to be during this time of year. As far as hiking trails are concerned, Alum Cave Trail provides great views of the mountains where you’ll be able to see the reds, oranges, and yellows. Clingmans Dome is another great place to hike to a higher elevation for an incredible scene of the fall colors in the Smoky Mountains. Anakeesta, the Gatlinburg Space Needle, and the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park are a few attractions where you could go for something fun to do and see the colors.

4. It’s a Popular Time

Just like you, many people love coming to the Smoky Mountains to see the fall colors. You should know traffic is heavy during this time of year, so plan accordingly. Leave with plenty of time to get to where you’re going. Make plans for early in the day since most people wait until the afternoon to go out. Just be patient when there’s traffic; everyone else is probably wanting to see the Smoky Mountains fall colors too!

Seeing the Smoky Mountains fall colors is something you have to do at least once in your lifetime. It’s absolutely gorgeous in East Tennessee in the fall! For even more information about this time of year in the Smokies, look at our guide to visiting the Smokies in the fall!