Autumn in the Great Smoky Mountains is a beautiful time of year. The mountains and valleys are painted with stunning colors that light up the Smokies. Curious about when you should visit Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge to see the magnificent Fall colors? Follow this guide to find the best time to see Smoky Mountain fall colors.
Fall in the Smokies begins in September, with the emerging changes occurring above 4,000 feet. Red, orange and yellow colors can be seen on sourwood, dogwood, maple, sassafras and birch trees. Drives recommended for September viewing are Parsons Branch Road, Newfound Gap Road and Clingmans Dome Road.
Be the beginning of October the mountains of the Smokies are awash in brilliant color. To see the bold yellows of the American beech and yellow birch to the rich reds on mountain ash, pin cherry and mountain maple trees, the viewing is best on roads including Newfound Gap Road, Heintooga Ridge Road, Foothills Parkway and Rich Mountain Road in Cades Cove.
In mid-October, the Great Smoky Mountains are about a week away from peak color of the lower elevations. However, the valleys and higher elevations are at a peak. They are painted with bold reds from black gum, dogwoods, sumac and sourwood trees and golds from the tulip tree, black walnut, birch, beech and hickories. Recommended scenic drives include Cove Creek Road, Balsam Mountain Road, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Foothills Parkway and Newfound Gap Road.
The peak colors are very impressive in late October. From low to high elevations, the marvelous colors of fall can be seen through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is not unusual to see autumn color last through the mid-November. Suggested drives are Blue Ridge Parkway, Foothills Parkway and Heintooga Ridge Road to Balsam Mountain.