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Fall Colors in the Smoky Mountains: What You Should Expect

Sep 22, 2014

Bright fall colors throughout the Smoky MountainsWhen you’re visiting Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge this fall, you’re probably counting on seeing the beautiful fall colors throughout the Great Smoky Mountains. This year, visitors can expect to see the fall colors a little bit earlier than the typical autumn season.

It can be difficult to plan a vacation during the fall season because you have a hard time deciding when the fall colors are going to be covering the mountaintops.

The fall colors start moving in when the weather begins to cool and the season really starts to change. The colors will arrive in the upper elevations first because there are cooler temperatures at places like Clingmans Dome. The green pigments will fade from the leaves, exposing the bright colors of fall.

At Acorn Cabin Rentals, we want to help you choose the best time for your family to visit, so take a look at what we’re expecting this season:

In September:

September is halfway over and there’s no color in the Smoky Mountains just yet. The National Park Service is reporting that some trees have turned a dullish red color, but we are still awaiting the bright fall colors everyone wants to see.

It’s possible that the last couple of days of September will brighten up with a few more colors in the mountains, but if you’re waiting to see the peak season colors, you should wait until October.

In October:Fall colors lining a road in the Smoky Mountains

With the way the colors have already changed in September, there’s a good chance that the fall colors will arrive a little bit early.

Typically, the colors are at their peak during mid to late October, but we may see the colors a little bit earlier this season.

If you visit in early October, we recommend spending some time in the upper elevations. The Clingman’s Dome observation tower is the best place to see the colors in the early season. There, on a clear day, you can see at least 100 miles into the mountains.

Toward mid to late October, when the colors start making their way down the mountainside, you will be able to see the colors from all over the area. One of the most beautiful drives during peak fall season is the drive in to the mountains from pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg. As you get closer to the national park, you will notice the fall colors in the Smoky Mountains start to come alive. The reds, yellows and oranges are so bright, sitting against the beautiful evergreen background.

Fall colors covering the Smoky MountainsIn November:

The fall colors typically stick around for about 6-8 weeks, just depending on the seasonal weather and temperatures. If the weather moves quickly into winter, the fall colors will fade and fall from the trees.

By Thanksgiving time, the colors will be disappearing and the colder weather will be slowly approaching the Smokies.

Where to See the Fall Colors in the Smoky Mountains

Obviously, anywhere in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is where you can find the most fall colors. If you want to see the colors from outside of the national park, try visiting these places:

Gatlinburg Sky Lift

Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway

Legacy Mountain Ziplines


We recommend visiting anywhere from mid October to early November to see the best showcase of fall colors in the Smoky Mountains. To start planning your vacation, take a look at all of our two bedroom cabins in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg that are perfect for any family getaway. Then, give us a call and let us help you choose the perfect cabin for your stay.