1. Hiking boots. Besides booking one of our Smoky Mountains cabins with impressive mountain views, one of the best ways to experience fall foliage this year is to get out and explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park ! With more than 800 miles of hiking, you’re sure to find a trail that fits your fitness level, and some of the recommended hikes for fall include Andrews Bald, Gregory Bald, Mount LeConte, and the Sugarland Mountain Trail. So bring your hiking boots or a good pair of sneakers, and get ready for some crisp mountain air this fall!
2. Sunscreen. Even though it’s fall, that doesn’t mean you should skip the sunscreen, especially if you’re planning an hours-long hike in the national park, an outdoor picnic, or a bicycle ride on the Cades Cove Loop Anytime you’ll be outside for a lengthy period of time (more than 30 minutes), you should plan to apply sunscreen to protect your skin and the skin of your little ones. And remember to stick the bottle in your backpack or purse so you can reapply!
3. Camera. Whether you’re going for a hike or just walking along the Parkway in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, don’t forget this must-have piece of equipment! You never know when you’ll spot a beautiful white-tailed deer in the national park or when you’ll come across a downtown attraction with spectacular views (like the scenic Sky Lift in Gatlinburg. And you’ll want to capture these once-in-a-lifetime moments on camera, especially when your backdrop is the changing fall colors of the Smokies!
4. Light layers.Fall in the Smokies is some of the best weather you’ll find all year. According to the National Park Service, daytime highs from September through early November stay somewhere between the 50s and 80s. But the weather can also change dramatically from the morning to the afternoon. So pack light layers, especially if you’re planning to spend time outdoors. Temperatures at higher elevations or shady parts of the park will be much colder than afternoon temperatures in downtown Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. Layers will ensure you’re prepared for both!
5. Snacks. The fall is one of the most popular times to visit the Smokies, traffic will often by heavy, and you might find yourself on the road for a much longer length of time than you expected. (Check out the Pigeon Forge trolley for an affordable way to get around town with ease.) So be sure to keep non-perishable snack items like jerky, nuts, dried fruit, and granola bars in your car for afternoon munchies, post-hiking (or pre-hiking) fuel, and emergency stashes. Keep snacks in your cabin as well for any late-night cravings.
6. Games and movies. Many of our Smoky Mountain cabins offer a variety of entertaining amenities from private pools to game-loaded lofts to private theaters. But to add to your fun while you’re away, bring your favorite board games, yard games, a deck of cards, and a small pile of your favorite DVDs. If the weather turns chilly and you want to spend some time indoors, you’ll appreciate having tons of options without having to leave your cabin!
7. Hot dogs and s’mores. These items are on the list specifically for our guests who choose a cabin with an outdoor fire pit and/or wood-burning fireplace. Sitting with family and friends around a crackling fire is a classic way to enjoy the cool weather in the fall, and if this is something on your must-do list, then be sure to pick the right cabin and bring all the right equipment. For help finding a cabin with these specific amenities, simply start an online chat with or call our reservation specialists.
8. Your appetite. All year long you can enjoy the delicious Southern-style cuisine that the Smoky Mountains have to offer. (And you’ll find plenty of other options too, especially barbecue joints and breakfast houses.) But only in the fall can you experience traditional Bavarian cuisine at Oktoberfest! Held at the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort, Oktoberfest is a month-long celebration of German food, culture, and—of course—beer. So bring your appetite with you to the Smokies, and get a taste of the unique flavors fall has to offer.
9. Your Halloween costume.If you thought that visiting the Smokies for Halloween meant you would have to skip trick-or-treating this year, think again! The Smoky Mountains encourages guests to plan their fall vacations whenever they want to, without missing a beat of what they would experience back home. So if you’ll be here for Halloween, be sure to visit America’s #1 aquarium, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, on October 31 for the Trick or Treat Kick Off Karnival. You can also visit The Island in Pigeon Forge and the Community Center in Pigeon Forge for safe, family-friendly, non-scary Halloween events in the Smokies.
10. Your Christmas list. It’s never too early to start knocking items off your 2017 Christmas list. And your Smoky Mountain visit this fall is the perfect opportunity to find unique gifts your loved ones will treasure. That’s because you’ll have a chance to visit the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair at the Convention Center in Gatlinburg. You can find unique Smoky Mountain décor and gift items at great prices and enjoy the Christmas season—without all the stress of wondering what to buy!