When and Where To See The Fall Colors in East TN

Tennessee is indeed a fantastic place to experience the beauty of fall foliage. According to TN.gov the peak color season is October 12-28th, 2023. Here are some great spots to witness the stunning fall colors and enjoy some bonus autumn experiences:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: This iconic national park is a top destination for fall foliage enthusiasts. The park's diverse elevations result in a prolonged fall color season. Drive along the Newfound Gap Road or hike one of the many trails to immerse yourself in the vibrant fall colors of the Smokies.

Blue Ridge Parkway: While technically not in Tennessee, the Blue Ridge Parkway is easily accessible from the eastern part of the state. This scenic drive offers breathtaking vistas of the Appalachian Mountains, and you'll find numerous overlooks to take in the colorful panorama.

Cherohala Skyway: Another picturesque drive, the Cherohala Skyway connects Tennessee and North Carolina. It's especially popular during the fall season when the hardwood forests along the route transform into a mesmerizing display of autumn hues. 

Natchez Trace Parkway: Traveling through middle Tennessee, the Natchez Trace Parkway is a historic route with lovely fall foliage. Stop at the Meriwether Lewis Monument or hike the scenic trails to enjoy the natural beauty.

Photo Courtesy of NatchezTraceTravel.com 

Ocoee River: For a unique autumn adventure, try whitewater rafting along the Ocoee River. The fall colors along the riverbanks add a stunning backdrop to the exhilarating experience. 

Photo Courtesy of Nantahala Outdoor Center

Cades Cove: Located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove is known for its beautiful valley surrounded by mountains. It's a fantastic place to see wildlife and take in the fall foliage while driving the loop road. 

Photo Courtesy of TheSmokies.com

Bonus Autumn Experiences: 

Fall Festivals: Look out for fall festivals and events happening across the state. Places like Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge often have autumn-themed festivities, including pumpkin patches, arts and crafts shows, and live music.

Apple Picking: Visit one of the many orchards in Tennessee for some apple picking fun. Enjoy the crisp air and fresh apples, a perfect way to embrace the season.

Scenic Train Rides: Consider taking a scenic train ride, such as the Tennessee Valley Railroad or the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. These rides offer a unique perspective on the fall foliage.

Photo Courtesy of Tennessee Valley Railroad 

Local Breweries and Distilleries: Tennessee is known for its whiskey, and many distilleries are open for tours. Sip on some local spirits while taking in the fall atmosphere.

Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway: For a breathtaking view of the Smoky Mountains. This two-mile ride to the Ober Mountain Adventure Park & Ski Area provides aerial photo opportunities for fall. 

Photo Courtesy of Beartracts.com

Southern Belle Riverboat: The three-hour fall color ride travels down the Tennessee River to the River Gorge, nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Tennessee, for an amazing view of brightly colored foliage. It’s a fun journey, including live music and a delicious lunch.

Remember to check local event calendars and weather forecasts for the most up-to-date information on fall foliage and activities. Enjoy your autumn adventure in this beautiful state!

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