Fall Color Preview in the Great Smoky Mountains

With the first official day of autumn just behind us, the fall season is setting in to the Great Smoky Mountains. The air is becoming crisper, temperatures are beginning to drop, harvest decorations are coming out and the leaves will soon begin to change. This is the start of peak season in the Smokies, and it’s no wonder why…the fall color here is unparalleled anywhere else in the United States!

One of the most frequent questions we get asked at Cabins For You is “when is the best time to see the leaves?” While it’s hard to predict, especially this early in the season, this fall color preview will give you a little more insight on the best time for autumn color viewing. We will start with the best news first!

While Gatlinburg may have endured a rainy summer, the abundant rainfall will make for spectacular fall colors this year. The moisture absorbed by the trees during the growing season actually slows down the display of colors, making them last longer and emerge more slowly throughout the season.

Many people worry about “missing” the fall colors. Don’t worry, however, whether you’re visiting late or early in the season, leaves and trees at different elevations will have something to offer you! Just like folks up north enjoy an early fall, the leaves at the higher elevations of the park will begin to emerge within the next couple of weeks. The colors move down the mountains as the season progresses, slowly changing through the mid to low elevations as the days shorten. Fall colors usually hang around until early November.

Currently, the 100+ species of trees in the park remain mostly green. The earliest color changers, such as dogwood, American beech, yellow birch and sourwood are starting to show the slightest signs of color in the upper elevations of the park. The red berries of the mountain ash are plentiful right now, as are the bright flowers of the “hearts-a-bustin’-with-love” shrubs. Keep an eye out for fall wildflowers, too!

Visiting soon? Take a drive through Clingmans Dome Road or head down the Blue Ridge Parkway…we promise you won’t be disappointed!

Stay tuned for more fall color updates as the season continues!


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