Here are the best places to drive or hike to catch the fabulous fall colors of the Smoky Mountains at their best during this fall season. Fall in the Smoky Mountains is famous for its wonderful colors, starting at the mountaintop and gradually moving down the mountain to lower elevations.
This happens over about a 7-week period, from late September into early November and when it is, determines where it is. Guessing the peak colors is an impossible task, but everyone attempts it each year. Keeping an eye on the national park’s Newfound Gap Webcam will show you the progress (and Anakeesta’s Observation Tower shows a great panorama around Gatlinburg also), but won’t help you know exactly when to book a cabin in advance.
The best thing is just to come, and know some of the places to get the best views of the colors, and some of the great scenic drives. Check out our guide to Fall Colors in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a detailed description of when the colors are at their best – usually – and at what elevations and from which overlook spots.
That guide tells you not only when but some of the where, with some of the places to be to enjoy the fall colors, but the ultimate guide to the where of it all is our Where to See the Fall Colors in the Smoky Mountains. This will tell you not only which scenic drives to take, but also how to see the colors from a variety of places you might not have considered – lots of ways to enjoy the fall.
For some more general orientation to the area, by the way, see our index to Scenic Drives & Places, and also the cheat sheet on Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Between the two, you can learn your way around, and the many ways to get around, any time of the year – always an asset for viewing the fall colors.
If your mind turns to history, our county seat of Sevierville has put together seven self-guided driving tours to take during the fall colors, both to enjoy the views and to see the many historic sites of the area with the back story provided. Someone put a lot of work into making these guides, and they’re worthy efforts if you want to learn – or teach – more as you drive around the Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville area.
Whatever you do, whenever you come, and wherever you go, enjoy the fall this year, and remember that it’s wonderful on any day of the year, just to be in the Smokies!