Without a doubt, fall is one of the most incredible times of year to explore the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. If you're in Pigeon Forge in October or November, you'll be able to experience the picturesque sight of changing seasons in the Smokies and tons of fun activities.
With fun events, excellent weather, and the stunning sight of fall foliage, it's no wonder that this season is one of the most popular times to visit Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.
To help you get the most out of your vacation, we've made this handy guide with the 5 best things to do in the Smoky Mountains in the fall!
1. See A Smoky Mountain Fall Festival
This gorgeous time of year brings lots of fun fall events to the Great Smoky Mountains. Here are just a few of fall festivals you can enjoy in the Smokies!
- Dollywood Harvest Festival – During the month of October, Dollywood is fully decorated to celebrate the harvest. During the day, you can enjoy moving gospel music shows and see live crafts-making demonstrations by skilled artisans. At night, you can explore Dollywood's Great Pumpkin LumiNights, an incredible display of thousands of illuminated jack-o-lanterns.
- Wears Valley Fall Festival – During the 3rd weekend of October, the peaceful mountain town of Wears Valley holds an excellent fall festival filled with delicious food, impressive crafts, live music, and lots of fun activities for the kids!
- Fall Harvest at the Island – To celebrate fall in the Smokies, the Island in Pigeon Forge has its own fall festival complete with live bluegrass music and tons of fall-themed décor. You can also enjoy excellent views of the changing fall foliage from the 200 feet-tall Great Smoky Mountain Wheel.
- Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair – For most of the month of October, you can see the work of craftspeople from across the nation at the Gatlinburg Convention Center in Downtown Gatlinburg. Not only can you see unique works of art made of clay, wood, metal, and glass, but you can also enjoy live bluegrass and country music daily at this fun fall event.
- Octoberfest at Ober – Discover festive German flare at the annual Oktoberfest event at Ober Gatlinburg Ski Mountain. This unique Smoky Mountain event features lots of Lederhosen, traditional German music, and dance. Better yet, you can fill up on delicious schnitzel, bratwurst, and excellent imported beers at this fun Bavarian festival in the Smokies.
2. Experience A Beautiful Fall Hike
As cooler temperatures arrive in the mountains of Tennessee, the forests of the Smoky Mountains begin to display a stunning array of colors. Hiking in the national park is an excellent way to explore the stunning sights of the fall season.
With over 800 miles of maintained trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it can be hard to choose the best hiking trail for your fall adventure. To help you find the perfect hike for your trip, we've made this handy guide with the best hiking trails for enjoying fall foliage in the Smokies.
If hiking isn't your thing, there are tons of other outdoor adventures to enjoy in the Smokies like:
- Guided Horseback Rides
- Zip Lines
- Fly Fishing
- Mountain Coasters
- ATV Riding Trails
- Tree Canopy Tours
3. Explore Fall Foliage in the Smoky Mountains
Of course, you don't have to hike through the mountains to see the glorious fall colors of the Smokies. In fact, you can enjoy the picturesque beauty of autumn in the Smoky Mountains from the comfort of your car. Auto-touring is a great way to experience the diverse ecosystems of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park without ever leaving the comfort of your vehicle.
Here are some roads and overlooks that are perfect for enjoying fall in the Smoky Mountains:
- Newfound Gap Road
- Clingman's Dome Road
- The Roaring Fork Motor Trail
- The Cades Cove Loop Road
- Tremont Road
- Morton Overlook
- Oconoluftee Valley Overlook
- Look Rock on the Foothills Parkway
While the changing colors of leaves are always beautiful, what many visitors yearn to see is known as "peak fall foliage," when the colors of the forest are most vibrant. In the Smoky Mountains, factors such as elevation, location, weather, and temperature effect when peak fall foliage occurs, so knowing where and when to find fall colors in the Smokies is key. To help you experience the dazzling colors of fall, we made this guide for finding peak fall foliage in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee!
4. Have a Spooky Time in the Smoky Mountains
October is the perfect month for enjoying ghost stories and haunted houses. Better yet, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and the Smoky Mountains are filled with lots of frightful fun!
Not only is the landscape of the national park filled with abandoned cabins, cemeteries, and legends of ghosts, but also there are several haunted attractions you can enjoy to celebrate Halloween in Pigeon Forge:
- Ripley's Haunted Adventure
- The Mysterious Mansion
- Outbreak: Dread The Undead
- Kyker Farms Haunted Corn Maze
- Gatlinburg Ghost Tours
The Smoky Mountains are also home to several haunted places if you'd like to explore these spooky locations for yourself!
5. Enjoy a Fall Cabin Vacation
One of the best ways to experience fall in the Smoky Mountains is to rent your own private cabin rental in the mountains! Booking a cabin is a great way to enjoy your own personal slice of the Smokies, while also enjoying comfortable amenities like hot tubs, game rooms, and decks with lovely mountain views.
For help finding the perfect fall cabin for your Smoky Mountain vacation, feel free to contact our helpful reservation office at (865) 429-4121. Be sure to ask how much you can save on your nightly rate with our special 15% cabin discount!
Written by Mark Frazier