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Fall Colors Smoky Mountains 2023

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Sad that summer is over? Don’t be. Fall Colors in Smoky Mountains 2023 is something to look forward to. In this Smoky Mountains Vacation guide, we give you everything you need to know about this special time of the year.

With the arrival of the fall season comes the changing colors across the Smokies, and all the more reason to plan your vacation. Erupting with bright red, orange, and yellow hues, you’ll be treated to show like no other.

Fall Colors Smoky Mountains
Fall Colors Smoky Mountains

The Smoky Mountains are a popular destination for leaf peepers in the fall, and with good reason. The mountains boast some of the most beautiful fall foliage in the country.

If you’re planning to experience Fall colors in Smoky Mountains 2023, here’s a guide to help you make the most of your trip.

Book 5 Bedroom Cabin Gatlinburg

Best Time To See Fall Colors In Smoky Mountains 2023

We can’t tell you when exactly the leaves will turn, but we can provide you with a prediction coming from several sources upon our research.

It is anticipated that the leaves will turn to their most beautiful fall colors in higher elevations around mid-October and continue until mid-November in lower elevations.

If you want to find out the progressive changing of leaves, you can check out this interactive 2023 fall foliage map of the Smoky Mountains.

For a bird’s eye view of changes in autumn colors, visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park Service to check out their live webcams.

smoky mountain fall colors
Fall Colors Smoky Mountains

By the start of October, the trees in the Smokies are now exhibiting vibrant fall colors, including the yellows of American beech and yellow birch, and different shades of reds on mountain ash, pin cherry, and mountain maple.

Lower elevation deciduous forests maintain most of their green hues but are beginning to dot with splashes of color.

By the third week of October, these leaves will have reached their peak colors which should remain vivid for the rest of the month.

Check out the Best Things to do in the Smoky Mountains In October

The last three weeks of October are usually the busiest time of year in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its surrounding area because of the peak fall foliage.

If you’re thinking about making a trip during this time, we suggest that you plan and book everything at least two or three months ahead.

Best Smoky Mountains Scenic Drives In Fall

See the beauty of the Smoky Mountains in a whole new light by taking one of these scenic drives during fall.

Foothills Parkway

Experience the Smokies like never before by driving along the Foothills Parkway. This unique road is split into two sections, one in Cosby and the other beginning in Wears Valley and running over to Chilhowee, TN. You’ll be able to take in the breathtaking yellows, reds, and oranges of the leaves no matter which section you decide to explore.

Foothills Parkway
Foothills Parkway

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

If you’re looking for a scenic drive that’s a little closer to Gatlinburg, take the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Aside from the fall foliage, this 5.5-mile road is full of historic buildings, mountain vistas, and babbling streams. You might even see some wild turkey, deer, or black bears along the way!

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Cades Cove Loop Road

The Cades Cove Loop Road is a 11-mile, one-way loop that takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the park. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife; this is one of the best places in the Smokies to see white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, black bears and more.

Cades Cove Loop Road
Cades Cove Loop Road

Blue Ridge Parkway

If you’re willing to take a little bit of a road trip, the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the best ways to see the Smokies in the fall. This 469-mile drive will take you through North Carolina and Virginia, offering stunning views of the mountains the whole way.

Make sure to stop at some of the overlooks along the way to really take in the beauty of the season.

Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway

Newfound Gap Road

This is the first stop on a picturesque journey to see the fall colors in the Smoky Mountains, and it’s just one mile high. The color palette at both ends of the route is equally breathtaking. We recommend coming early because traffic gets particularly congested as the day goes on.

Newfound Gap Road
Newfound Gap Road

Best Smoky Mountain Hikes in Fall

Clingman’s Dome

See the majestic colors of fall from the top of Clingman’s Dome. The 6,643-foot peak is the highest point in the park and offers 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains. On a clear day, you can see for over 100 miles!

Gregory Bald Trail

Perched high above Cades Cove, a hike to the top provides one of the most beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains Fall foliage. The stunning views cannot only be seen at the top of the mountain- you’ll catch glimpses of gorgeous scenery along the entire journey!

Chimney Tops Trail

This may be a 2-mile short hike, but it’s also the most challenging hike in the park due to its steepness that climbs 1,400 feet to the Chimney Tops rock outcropping.

The views from the summit are definitely worth the effort with panoramic views of the mid-elevations of the Smoky Mountains. The best time to hike this trail is in early or mid-October.

Laurel Falls Trail

This is one of the most popular and accessible trails that are perfect for families. Hikers will find several views of mountains and a stunning waterfall while on this trail.

Take note that this trail can be very crowded during the peak season in fall, it’s best to start your hike early in the day.

Where to Stay in the Smoky Mountains in the Fall?

The Smoky Mountains are a beautiful place to visit in the fall, and there are plenty of great places to stay. If you’re looking for a cabin with scenic mountain views, this 5BR/5BA cabin is a great option.

With over 2600 square feet of finished living space, it’s perfect for families or groups of friends. There are two private balconies, a hot tub, and a game room, so everyone will have a great time. Book now and enjoy a wonderful fall vacation in the Smoky Mountains!

Smoky Mountains 7-Day Itinerary

I understand how difficult it can be to plan a trip, especially if it’s your first time going. That’s why I created this 7-day itinerary for the Smoky Mountains. It outlines all of the best places to go in the area and comes with insider tips that will save you a lot of stress–trust me, they saved me when I was planning my own trip!

  • Our 7-day itinerary takes you to the best places in the Smoky Mountains.
  • You’ll get to see all the best sights and attractions with driving directions
  • The itinerary is designed to show you the most scenic routes.
  • Packing Checklist for every season.
  • You’ll have everything you need to make the most of your trip.
  • Insider Tips!

Here’s a quick overview of our Smoky Mountains 7-Day Itinerary.

  • Day 1: Cades Cove Loop
  • Day 2: Rich Mountain Road
  • Day 3: Cataloochee Valley
  • Day 4: Newfound Gap Road
  • Day 5: Roaring Fork Motor Trail
  • Day 6: Little River Road
  • Day6: Foothills Parkway

Get This FREE Fall Packing Checklist For The Smoky Mountains!

Related Smoky Mountain Resources


To make the most out of your visit, check out our post on the Best Things to do in the Smoky Mountains In October. Don’t forget to pack a compact travel camera to capture all the amazing fall colors!

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