With few days of respite from the blazing heat in summer, planning a trip to the Smoky Mountains to enjoy the soon blazing colors of fall is a great way to get ready for the cooler days ahead. The intoxicating blend of red, orange, and yellow leaves is the perfect backdrop for a fun family hike or a romantic stroll through one of the most beautiful parks in the world.
10 Reasons We’re Thankful for FALL in the Smokies
- Fall Colors
First on our list are the unparalleled colors of the Smoky Mountains each fall, making this season one of the most popular for visiting Pigeon Forge. The variety of trees dotting the Smoky Mountain hills and the mild climate of East Tennessee make for a perfect combination when it comes to enjoying the oranges, golds, and reds of the changing leaves on the trees. For one of the best seats in the house when it comes to fall colors, we recommend a ride on the 200-foot Great Smoky Mountain Wheel at Pigeon Forge’s The Island.
- Mountain Views
Besides the fall colors, one of the highlights of visiting the Smoky Mountains, of course, is viewing the beautiful Smoky Mountains! To take advantage of the best that Pigeon Forge has to offer, you should not only visit attractions like Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park but also check out our Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg cabin rentals with private mountain views. Plan to relax in a rocking chair, sip your morning cup of Joe, and enjoy the grandeur of the Smokies without another tourist in sight!
- Comfort Food
For most of us, when we think of fall, we automatically think of food. Maybe it’s a warm bowl of chili, a baked sweet potato with melted butter and cinnamon, or pumpkin-flavored anything. In the Smokies, we have our own versions of fall comfort food classics. Things like apple fritters at the Apple Barn, a stack of buttermilk pancakes with syrup at Log Cabin Pancake House, or a hot bowl of corn chowder at The Old Mill Restaurant. And don’t forget to stop by Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen for Southern favorites any time of year—things like Best Ever Southern Fried Chicken and Chicken-Fried Pork Chops.
- Mild Weather
Pigeon Forge visitors love the fall for many reasons, and the mild weather is certainly one of them. Typically, fall temperatures in the Smokies range from the 40s and 50s in the morning and late evening to the upper 70s and low 80s throughout the day, offering visitors the best of both worlds. You get those perfectly cool mornings on the porch with a steaming cup of coffee in your hand and those nice afternoons that aren’t too hot or too cold when you’re hiking the Smokies or shopping along the Parkway.
- Fascinating History
Another reason we’re thankful for the Smokies is the amount of history these mountains have to offer. In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone you’ll find a variety of centuries-old structures that tell the story of these mountains from the days of the Cherokee Indians to the first European settlers of the 19th century. If you want the place where you’ll find the widest variety of historic buildings in the Smokies, pay a visit to the lush valley of Cades Cove, where you’ll find everything from a working grist mill to churches.
While you’re visiting Cades Cove for the fascinating historical structures, don’t miss the variety of wildlife in this area of the national park. Cades Cove is known for offering some of the best opportunities for viewing wildlife in the area, and the milder weather of the fall is sure to improve your chances. Get out for a hike or a bike ride during your Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge stay, and keep your eyes peeled for white-tailed deer, coyotes, turkeys, and even the symbol of the Smokies, the American Black Bear.
- Fun Shows
Although the daytime temperatures are awesome, by the time the sun goes down, you might be looking for a fun alternative to staying outside in the cold. How about a dinner show in Pigeon Forge? This area is known for combining some of the best food with some of the best entertainment for unforgettable evenings with the family. A few dinner shows to check out while you’re in town include the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show, Great Smoky Mountain Murder Mystery Dinner Theater, Biblical Times Dinner Theater, Lumberjack Adventure, and Dixie Stampede.
- Arts & Crafts
If it’s fall, that can only mean one thing: it’s almost Christmas! And Christmastime—though one of our favorite times of year—can also be one of the most stressful. That’s another reason we’re thankful for the Smokies: you can easily knock out your Christmas list with one visit to the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. This historic 8-mile loop in nearby Gatlinburg is home to the largest group of independent artisans in North America and has been designated a Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail. You’ll find almost everything in their shops, including candles, baskets, quilts, pottery, jewelry, jams and jellies, and so much more!
- Cozy Cabins
Sure, a visit to the Smokies in the fall isn’t complete without mountain views, fall colors, and a mug full of something warm and satisfying. But here’s a little secret: you can have all of these fall favorites in one convenient location when you stay in one of our beautiful Smoky Mountain cabins! Choose a cabin with mountain views, and you’ll have private access to your very own piece of Pigeon Forge paradise. Then your family can enjoy the best of what fall has to offer from the comfort of your rocking chair porch.
- Family Time
We love so many things about the fall, but the final item on our list has to be one of the most important: time with family! A visit to the Smokies makes this time possible with our comfy Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg cabins, complete with fully equipped kitchens, game tables, and dining rooms. You can enjoy home-cooked meals, indoor activities, and outdoor fun without leaving your cabin’s driveway. And the memories you make with your loved ones are sure to be the best part of any Smoky Mountain vacation!
When and Where to View Fall Foliage
The fantastic fall color display here is unlike any place else in the country, drawing in thousands of visitors to enjoy the colorful spectacle. About 100 species of trees, including scarlet oak, mountain maple, and sweetgum, provide not only color but also, a variety of leaf shapes and sizes. Once October arrives, wildflowers, like asters and goldenrod, color the ground; blackberry and blueberry shrubs have just begun changing. Mountain ash, pin cherry, and sumac give a burst of red, while birch and American beech add a splash of yellow.
Fall color during autumn here can be seen from far and wide – from the roadsides in downtown to the very highest mountain peaks. The question is – where is the best place to see fall color in Gatlinburg? That question can be surprisingly hard to answer! The fall color here migrates slowly down the mountains, first starting at the highest elevations before working its way down the mountains. Because the color is so varied depending on the elevations, it can be difficult to pinpoint which place will be best for viewing. Choose your leaf-viewing destinations depending on the time you are visiting and you are promised one of the best views you could imagine!
One of the most well-known places in Gatlinburg, TN, Cades Cove is a beautiful trail that can be enjoyed via car, bike, and foot. Photographers love this beautiful stretch of land, complete with incredible views of the valley and towering mountains that surround them. The wildlife viewing is also excellent here, with black bears and deer frequently spotted in these areas. Cades Cove is usually great for viewing in early October.
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
This 6-mile, one-way loop features breathtaking views of the fall colors. Here you can glimpse 2 of the most popular waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, providing you with great photography opportunities! A moderate hike will take you to the 80-foot-tall Rainbow Falls and the 25-foot-tall Grotto Falls – the only waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that you can walk behind! This trail is great throughout early and middle October.
Newfound Gap Road
At an elevation of about 5,000 feet, you can enjoy viewing a variety of diverse ecosystems on this drive. Here you can check out a variety of trees, from oaks and pines to evergreens and maples. Significantly cooler than surrounding areas downtown, the drop in temperature here brings the changing leaves early in the season. This road offers many scenic overlooks where you can pull over, get out your camera, and enjoy the spectacular sights. Check out Newfound Gap Road in early to mid-October.
This hiking trail about six miles in length is located along Newfound Gap Road. Featuring one of the longest footbridges in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this loop is considered to be a moderate hike. Travel under some of the spectacular fall foliage and enjoy excellent photo opportunities as you cross over the stream. This trail is also home to an old church, cemetery, and the Smokemont Campground. This trail is best to enjoy in late October!
More Great Fall Drives
The largest variety of trees is found in the lower to middle elevations of the mountains, and during September, Clingmans Dome and Parsons Branch Roads are some of the best drives for checking out the fall foliage. You can also head to the high country on Heintooga Ridge Road, Foothills Parkway West and East, and Rich Mountain Road.
The Blue Ridge Parkway and Foothills Parkway East and West are beautiful drives in November, and for a breezy hike, Smoky Mountain travelers can opt for trails such as Rich Mountain Loop, Chestnut Top Trail, Smokemont Loop, or Kanati Fork. So, no matter what time of fall you plan to visit, the Great Smoky Mountains is sure to please with the vivid colors of autumn painting the landscape.
Scenic Fall Hikes
For those who want to get out and stretch their legs, Albright Grove and Sugarland Mountain Trail are some nice hikes, while Andrews Bald or Mt. Leconte allow visitors another vantage point at high elevations. Until late October, hikes in the higher elevations are the most promising for taking in the bright colors of fall, because trees in the lower elevations have not yet reached their peak. There are several easy hikes to try during the middle of October, including Baskins Creek Falls, Lower Mount Cammerer, Little River, and Old Settlers. Low Gap, Mt. Sterling, and Goshen Prong trails are more challenging hikes, but all provide some wonderful scenic overlooks.
Don’t consider yourself to be the outdoorsy type? Never fear, as there is a viewpoint right in downtown Gatlinburg that will allow you to catch a great view of the changing leaves. The Space Needles features a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains and downtown Gatlinburg from 400 feet in the air. Glass elevators will take you to the top where you can stay as long as you want – and also come back anytime that day for free! This viewpoint is great all season long, but particularly in late October.
FALL EVENTS IN THE SMOKIES
Looking out of the window of one of our cabin rentals, it’s easy to see why people love fall in Gatlinburg. The Smoky Mountains surround the city of Gatlinburg and create a beautiful playground for all. Visitors and residents alike look forward to fall in Gatlinburg because it’s so magical. Once you see the kaleidoscope of colors – rich reds, vibrant oranges, and deep golds – you’ll understand why the area takes advantage of this time of year for many great events! The beautiful weather acts as an invitation for activity and celebration. Read on for just a few of the annual events that grace the community calendar, and be sure to check out our Events Page for more details and to see what’s happening during your stay!
Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair
The Craftsmen’s Fair is a display of almost 200 booths that feature the work of artists from all over the nation. The talented artists give demonstrations of their amazing skills and offer it for sale – everything from leather goods, wood carvings, and quilts to jewelry, paintings, and pottery.
Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament
The Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament is open to children and adults, locals and residents, and is the perfect way to experience the cool waters of the Great Smoky Mountains up close and personal. Cast a line for your chance to win cash and prizes and be a part of the largest trout tournament in the area – with more than 10,000 trout stocked and ready!
The Gatlinburg Farmers Market is a chance for local farmers is a wonderful opportunity to sample and buy some great local produce and goods. It’s held Saturdays from 8:30 until noon next to the Gatlinburg Post Office from mid-May to mid-October.
Annual Taste of Autumn
Gatlinburg‘s Annual Taste of Autumn event features food and drink from local restaurants and vendors – with plenty of seasonal tastes – and benefits the United Way of Sevier County each year. Enjoy live music, great local food, an auction, and more!
Veteran’s Day Celebration
Held in the courtyard of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, this annual event features patriotic music, keynote speakers, and a focus on those who have sacrificed so much for us – our veterans!
A 205-year-old tradition begun in Munich, Germany, finds a home at Ober Gatlinburg with OktOBERfest! The month-long celebration begins in September, when the Bavarian Fun Makers Band, in authentic costumes, will begin performing traditional Bavarian folk dances, music, and more with daily shows throughout the festival. Special OktOBERfest beers will be served alongside traditional German dishes like schnitzel and strudel. Get your fill of German-style food and fun at the Heidelberg Castle in Ober Gatlinburg this fall!
Classic cars, hot rods, and specialty vehicles roll into the Smoky Mountains throughout the year for events that bring in thousands of visitors. Fall is a favorite, with the Pigeon Forge Fall Rod Run at the top spot!
FALL FUN – FOR FAMILIES, COUPLES, GROUPS, AND MORE!
Along with the many fun fall events in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, there are tons of fun fall activities to try, whether you’re traveling as a couple, in a group, with family, or with friends, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do. Spend time in the great outdoors, play at the cabin, and check out the many attractions in the area!
FUN FALL ATTRACTIONS
Explore Anakeesta – This newer attraction atop Gatlinburg the most spectacular views you could imagine – especially during autumn. Along with food, shopping, and ziplines, you’ll get a chance to enjoy amazing views from the Gatlinburg SkyBridge!
Ride the Aerial Tramway—For the best way to see the changing colors of the Smoky Mountain trees this fall, ride the Aerial Tramway at Ober Gatlinburg. This cable car departs from downtown Gatlinburg and takes you on a 2.1-mile ride up to the Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park.
Enjoy the Scenic Chairlift – For an open-air view of the colorful Smoky Mountains, try a ride on the Scenic Chairlift instead. This lift provides amazing views of the Smokies, and if you visit Ober Gatlinburg before Thanksgiving, you’ll also get to enjoy FREE live bluegrass music!
Get thrills on the Ski Mountain Coaster – If you’re wanting to see the beautiful fall foliage at a little faster pace, try the newest addition to Ober Gatlinburg: the Ski Mountain Coaster. This Smoky Mountain thrill ride begins by taking you on a peaceful, 1,000-foot climb through the woods bordering the National Park. Then you’ll be whisked down 2,750 feet at speeds of up to 25 mph! Kids as young as 3 can ride tandem with a parent or grandparent.
Putt around with mini golf – Revisit your childhood and enjoy the crisp mountain air of the Smokies at the same time with a game of mini golf at one of the many area courses. Surrounded by a gorgeous display of autumn colors, you’ll have fun with kids and kids at heart!
Warm up with a whiskey – When the weather has cooled down a bit, you can warm up quickly with some homemade whiskey, also known as moonshine. Visit several popular distilleries along the Parkway in Gatlinburg, including Ole Smoky Distillery, Ole Smoky Moonshine, Sugarlands Distilling Company, and Doc Collier Moonshine.
Visit Ripley’s Haunted Adventure – While open year-round, this creepy mansion with 10,000 square feet of haunting attractions is perfect for an October visit to the Smokies. Where better to celebrate Halloween than the #1 haunted house in Gatlinburg?
Ride the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel – Part of a fall visit to the Smokies is soaking in the fall foliage from a perfect vantage point. And one of the best places to do this in Pigeon Forge is on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, a 200-foot ferris wheel located at The Island.
Grab some sweet treats and local favorites- Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are known for their sweets, including fudge, old-fashioned candies, and more. They also have plenty of classic foods to try. Get a candy-covered apple from Kilwin’s, get a footlong Ogle Dog from Fannie Farkle’s, fill up on seasonal pancakes at Pancake Pantry, and much more!
OUTDOOR FALL FUN
Toss a football at the park – We’re going to let you in on a little secret about the Smokies: not everything fun has an admission price attached! So if you’re looking for a fun and easy way to enjoy the fall this year with your family, why not visit Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge (right behind The Old Mill)? Bring a football, feed the ducks, or just go for a relaxing stroll around the half-mile walking path.
Take a hike under the changing leaves. Did you know the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the nation? Come experience it for yourself this fall by taking a hike beneath old-growth trees, packing a family picnic, or driving scenic roads like Cades Cove and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
Visit a panoramic viewpoint. You just have to see it to believe it sometimes, and if you visit a popular park destination like Clingmans Dome (the highest point in the national park), you’ll be able to see all the colors that make the Smoky Mountains an ideal fall foliage destination!
Do some birdwatching – The crest of the Smoky Mountains towers almost a mile above the foothills, which allows for a wide range of elevations and topographies. This diversity provides an array of habitats and microclimates for a large variety of birds. Around 240 species of birds have been found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Hit the golf course – With the background of the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg has several magnificent golf courses. Gatlinburg Golf Course and the Bent Creek Golf Course are just two of the great courses in the area.
Do some hiking – This is one of the most popular activities in the Great Smoky Mountains. With over 800 miles of hiking trails ranging in difficulty, there is something for all ages and abilities. Whether you just want to spend an hour lazily taking in the wooded views, or you want to challenge yourself to hike to the highest or best waterfalls, there is a trail for you.
Go horseback riding – Another great way to take in the incredible sights of the Smokies is a horseback ride. Smoky Mountain Stables and Sugarlands Riding Stables offer guided tours for people of all ages. This is wonderful for a family activity or a romantic day outside.
FALL FUN IN THE CABIN
Cozy up in front of the fireplace – We have Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge cabins with electric fireplaces, wood-burning fireplaces, and gas fireplaces. These make perfect cabin companions for those chilly fall nights in the mountains.
Make s’mores over an open flame – Few activities say fall better than melting marshmallows and assembling s’mores before an open flame. If this is a must for your family’s fall getaway, be sure to ask our reservation specialists about cabins with outdoor firepits or wood-burning fireplaces.
Watch a favorite Halloween movie in your private home theater – Our cabins’ home theaters aren’t just glorified living rooms with big screen TVs. There are entire rooms equipped with projectors, surround sound, theater-style seating—even movie posters on the wall. Watch your Halloween countdown in style this year in our Smoky Mountain cabins!
Curl up with a new book – Sometimes the best part about a fall vacation—or a vacation period—is the chance to relax away from deadlines and demanding schedules. Our cabins give you that chance with roomy living rooms, rocking chair porches, and relaxing amenities like outdoor hot tubs and indoor jetted tubs. So grab that book you’ve been meaning to read and head to the Smokies this fall!
Relax at your fall cabin – watch games on the big screen, sip a drink in the rocking chairs, toss a football around in the yard, unwind in a hammock, and enjoy the fall colors from your hot tub!
Gorgeous colors, gentle breezes, seasonal wildflowers — what better time to say “I do” in the Smokies than fall?! While other seasons do have their charms, autumn presents a unique period of nice weather accompanied by natural décor, truly enhancing your wedding experience. The Great Smoky Mountains is not only a beautiful place to tie the knot but also a fantastic location to spend your first days of marriage together.
From hiking through the fall-hued forests and attending local festivals to dining at first-class restaurants and spending cozy nights in the cabin, your wedding and honeymoon in the Smokies will be memorable, to say the least.
Why an autumn wedding?
Lovely weather makes any wedding better, and the transition from summer to winter means 3 things: cooler temperatures, a higher chance for clear skies, and low humidity. Falling gradually during the fall season, daytime highs typically average between the 70s and 80s in September, the 60s and 70s in October, and the 50s and 60s in early November. With these cool temps, a wedding in fall means comfort for all.
Whether deciding on an outdoor or an indoor ceremony, every bride prays for sunshine — after all, you don’t want to spend all day getting ready only to see your efforts come to ruin in the rain! Thankfully, autumn in the Smokies is the best time of year for clear skies, relieving one of your worst wedding fears.
Though rain can be a party pooper, humidity is perhaps the most vicious villain of all, threatening your hair within minutes of stepping outside and causing untold havoc amongst your female guests. Once again, fall is here to save the day with low humidity levels, leaving your hair (and your guests’ hair) in peace.
Avoid frozen guests in winter, rain showers in spring, and a humidity hair attack in summer by choosing fall as the season to host your special day in the Smokies. Plus, autumn weather isn’t the only thing to be excited about (check out some fall bonuses below).
- With cooler temperatures, why not wear a lace-sleeved dress? How elegant!
- Capture shades of deep purple, rustic red, pumpkin orange, bark brown, sunflower yellow, and forest green from the fall foliage in your wedding photos.
- Enhance your bouquet with wildflowers of the season, such as white aster, great blue lobelia, and goldenrod.
- Get a video shot of your tulle veil dancing with the soft winds.
- Goodbye, heels. Hello, boots! Forget the stilettos and rock a chic pair of boots on your wedding day.
Time to Say “I Do”
When it comes to planning for your wedding in the Smokies, nothing will make life easier than an all-inclusive wedding package. Instead of spending your valuable time searching for each little piece to fit into your wedding dream puzzle, channel your efforts into finding a venue that includes everything you’ll need — from the heartwarming ceremony to the joyful reception. We’ve even created a list of our favorites to help you get started.
- Above the Mist Wedding Service
- Flower Mountain Weddings & Receptions
- The Barn Event Center of the Smokies
- Honeysuckle Hills
- Almost Heaven Resort & Weddings
Top Planning Tips
- As if you didn’t already know, book the venue early! Waiting until the last minute will not only be another added stress but also a potential dream crusher as your place of choice may not be available.
- If you have a year to plan, make time for a weekend trip to the Smokies in fall to experience the season. Who knows? Maybe you’ll pick up some decoration inspiration while you’re there!
- Visit your list of possible wedding venues in person, even if it’s not in fall. Just bring some fall pictures or fabric pieces and imagine how the ceremony might look, so there’s no doubt when you make your final decision.
- Incorporate seasonal dishes in your reception menu to make your wedding in the Smokies even more festive. Maybe create a pastry bar with various pies and loads of toppings, like whipped cream, ice cream, warm caramel…the works!
- Ask your wedding planner to book your ceremony when the changing leaves are at their peak (it usually depends on the elevation, so it will vary at each location.)
- Save some money and let nature decorate for you. Place fallen leaves around the reception tables or use tree branches in your bridesmaids’ bouquets.
That Honeymoon Phase
What’s more romantic than a secluded cabin in the mountains on your honeymoon in the Smokies? From enjoying incredible mountain views and relaxing in the outdoor hot tub to cuddling by the fireplace and swimming in the private indoor pool, there’s no better way to begin your married life! Not to mention, you can schedule in-cabin treats, such as a 2-person massage, a bed of roses, the Honeymoon Basket (sparkling cider included!), and dinner for 2.
Leaving the serenity of the cabin may be tough at first, but when you are able, head out for your first husband and wife adventures in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg.
- Take a helicopter ride and witness the immeasurable beauty of the Smokies from the skies with Scenic Helicopter Tours.
- Shop ‘til you drop at the Village Shops — you know she will appreciate this one.
- Visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies to view the charming sea life together.
- Laugh and dine at a dinner show in town, like the Dixie Stampede or the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show.
- Share a kiss and a selfie at the top of the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel at The Island.
- Go on a nature hike through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — the colors of fall will make your trek extra special.
Layers of autumn hues to complement your pearl white gown, gentle breezes brushing by as you walk down the aisle, breathtaking mountain views from your secluded romantic retreat — plan your fall wedding and honeymoon in the Smokies!
A ROMANTIC FALL GETAWAY
You don’t have to be tying the knot to take a romantic trip to the Smokies. No matter where you are in your relationship, an escape to the mountains is just right. Cozy nights by the cabin fireplace, romantic soaks in the hot tub overlooking the valley or mountains, dinners prepared together in your cabin’s fully equipped kitchen, fun days playing games in the cabin…what’s there not to love? Need some ideas? Read on!
Classic movie date – with a twist | Rent or bring romantic comedies, pop some popcorn, and cozy up by the fireplace (or in your cabin’s theater room) for an easy and fun date.
Romantic dinner – made by YOU | Swing by the grocery store and pick up everything you need to make your signature meal or try to whip up something new. Food is said to be the way to a man’s heart, and based on myself, it’s the way to a woman’s heart as well. A romantic dinner is a classic go-to, and it’s even more romantic in a Gatlinburg cabin. Drop by The Old Mill General Store and pick up a box of their famous pancake mix to impress your better half with breakfast in bed, too.
Fun & Flirty game night | A night of cards, board games, arcade games, or pool is a great way to have some playful romantic time together. Set up for games at the kitchen table or book a cabin with a rec room to up the fun competition!
Treat yo’ selves | Did you know you can schedule an in-cabin couple’s massage when you stay with Cabins for YOU? Surprise your love or plan together and treat yourselves to a luxurious and romantic spa night – without even leaving the cabin!
A wine-tasting tour | The Rocky Top Wine Trail lets you go at your own pace, visiting local wineries and a distillery. Earn free gifts as you go and find the perfect bottles of wine to take back for a romantic night in your Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge cabin.
A day in nature – together | Gorgeous mountain vistas, dipping valleys, fields of wildflowers, rushing waterfalls, quiet streams, historic buildings set among fields of green, diverse wildlife…the ways to enjoy the great outdoors as a couple are endless!
A romantic drive | The 31-mile stretch of road through Newfound Gap is heavenly. Put in your #throwbackthursday mixed CD or playlist from the early times of your relationship and soak in the deep green forests, hand in hand. The drive is relaxing and romantic as Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) winds deep through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, beside creeks and alongside mountain views you will want to pull over for. The fall foliage is especially breathtaking from September through November!
Explore Cades Cove | While sightseeing from the car is lovely, get out and be adventurous together! Cades Cove has mountain valleys, wildlife, historic cabins, fields of wildflowers, and multiple ways to enjoy all of these sights. Cades Cove Stables offers guided horseback and horse-drawn carriage tours through the dreamy foothill forests. Take a morning bike ride together along the paved loop; you can bring your own bicycles or simply rent on location from the Cades Cove Campground Store. After a day full of exercise, sit down and discuss your favorite parts of Cades Cove over a cute picnic lunch under the pavilion.
10 THINGS TO BRING YOUR FANTASTIC FALL GETAWAY
- 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!
- Sunscreen. Even though it’s fall, that doesn’t mean you should skip the sunscreen, especially if you’re planning an hour-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!
- 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!
- 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!
- Snacks. The fall is one of the most popular times to visit the Smokies, traffic will often be 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!