As the days cool down by late September and early October in the Smoky Mountains, the leaves begin to turn into nature’s storyboard of sorts. You’ll witness a cascade of beautiful shades of yellow, red, and orange in every direction you turn by this time of the year. The Smoky Mountains receives a swarm of visitors every year around this time.
When’s the Best Time to Visit?
This beautiful, natural show of vibrant colors typically goes on for a little over a period of seven weeks every fall. Although the exact timing of the peak fall foliage always hinges on a number of factors such as the temperature, length of days and more, it generally follows the pattern below:
The last week of September brings with it a cover of spotty colors over the highest mountains; those over an elevation of 6000 feet and above.
The next week, it descends down to the mountains that are just above an elevation of 5000 feet. Grandfather Mountain, Mitchell Mountain, and the Beech Mountain are some of these mountains.
The second week of October sees the vibrant foliage cover the mountain areas that are 4000-5000 feet in elevation. The cascade of natural colors really picks up steam by this time.
The third week of October is generally when the foliage peaks. It reaches down to an elevation of 3000- 4000 feet and seems to lay a blanket of vibrant colors over everything in sight.
The fourth week sees the color take over everything at an elevation of 2000-3000 feet. The Biltmore Estate, the French Board River and the city of Ashville are doused in vibrant foliage colors.
Going by the above general pattern, mid-October to early November seems to be the best time for a visit to the Smoky Mountains.
Best Locations to Catch the Colors
If you’re there in the peak foliage season, there are plenty of locations to catch nature in its utter glory. Simply driving up and down the many scenic roads will be a color-filled treat. Cruise up and down Upper & Lower Tremont Road, Cades Cove Loop Road or the Newfound Gap Road to enjoy some magnificent views. Or you can go hiking along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Clingmans Dome is another popular spot for this purpose; a short hike to the summit will afford you 360-degree views of the fall colors.
Events to Look Out For
There are many events that attract a number of tourists, but Gatlinburg’s Oktoberfest is not to be missed. Revel in a big old fashioned celebration of the German roots of the area throughout the month, with live entertainment, polka, and Bavarian-style cuisine to keep you busy.
Harvest Festival at Dollywood is another one that goes on around the same time of the year. There are over 350 Gospel music shows and a variety of performances by some of the biggest names in Gospel music.
While you’re visiting the Smoky Mountains around this magical time of the year, do not forget to grab some of the coolest souvenirs that will serve as a beautiful reminder of your journey to the Smoky Mountains.