Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival 2012 – and Fall Colors in the Smoky Mountains

image courtesy of NPS

Fall is coming and nothing alerts us to the change in seasons like the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival, which runs from September 13 through October 31, 2012. This is a county-wide celebration with a huge number of attractions including festivals, hay rides, live entertainment, music, food, apple picking, hot cider, all manner of pumpkins & scarecrows, and an outpouring of unique arts and crafts.

And behind it all, as the temperature cools through the weeks, is the incredible display of colors that makes Fall in the Smokies a wondrous time of year. People come here from all over the world in October to witness a tapestry of gold, pink, red, yellow and orange from more than 100 species of trees. It’s all spread over 800 square miles in a variety of habitats and at elevations ranging from 875 to 6,643 feet. October is a busy month for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

If you’re happiest sitting in a rocker on the porch of your mountain cabin with some local apple cider, gazing at the changing beauty, rest assured your kids can happily go crazy with all the fun available at this time of year.

Hiking and touring are great this time of year, with the leaves turning and the air getting cooler. From here through the end of September the country is still predominantly green, with the high elevations starting to turn by month end. October sees the colors gradually working downslope, and the transformation continues into early November.

Mid-October onwards is usually when the lower elevations below 4,000 feet start to go wild with color, and this is where the greatest diversity of trees occurs. Choosing when to come here for your “peak” experience is as difficult to pick in advance as the weather itself. Stay tuned to local sources as the month progresses.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park web site has useful information for Fall colors, with updated alerts about current conditions. And for a live view of the changing terrain keep an eye on the web cam in the Park provided by the National Park Service.

Here’s a video with a taste of the Fall colors in the Smokies:

Remember this was for 2009, the predictions for this year’s peak colors are not available yet, so stay tuned!

About Carrie Waxler

Carrie Waxler

I've worked for Gatlinburg Falls since March 2011. Lived in TN since 1996. I have now hiked Mt. LeConte three times. I've been on every trail that leads to the top. The last one we hiked up the Boulevard. I have walked my first 2.7 miles on the Appalachian Trail. Only 2176 miles to go. I plan to hike the Appalachian Trail when my children graduate. I also love lake kayaking on Cherokee Lake and Douglas Lake. We take our kayaks camping to middle Tennessee as well for river kayaking. I love talking to guests from the places I've visited or lived. Brings back many good memories. I love to be where people are having fun.