Fall is an incredible season to visit the Great Smoky Mountains with the beautiful Gatlinburg fall colors, crisp air, crafts, harvest festivals and more. If you have never visited Gatlinburg TN in October or early November, then you are missing out on an amazing experience.
Figuring out when the Gatlinburg fall colors will peak can be very tricky, and requires predicting the weather a little bit, too. A good rule of thumb that defines a brilliant fall is dry weather with cool (not freezing) temperatures in October. There are obviously other factors, but the cool temperatures will make the fall even more stunning in the Smokies. Colors usually peak around the last half of October with the higher elevations changing color first and the colors trickling down into the valley.
So, how can you figure out if the Gatlinburg fall colors are peaking just in time for your visit? And when is the best time to visit in the fall? We can help!
Inside Tips for Planning Your Visit to See Gatlinburg Fall Colors
- Check out the views from more than just the national park hiking trails, too. You can see the Gatlinburg fall colors from all over the area. Try visiting the Gatlinburg Space Needle or riding on the Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway for the best views of the colors!
- Prepare for lots of colors! The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be changing colors, but there are other places to see the fall colors, too, like the Dollywood Harvest Festival.
- Keep in mind that it’s going to be busy! If you visit Gatlinburg TN on the weekend, you’re likely to encounter many more people visiting the area. If you want to visit during a time when there are not as many people in the area, try planning to visit on a weekday!
The GSMNP site (Great Smoky Mountains National Park) keeps the most up-to-date information about all of the Gatlinburg fall colors throughout the season. They offer:
- Gatlinburg fall colors facts
- Information on why and how the leaves change colors
- Updates about the best times to visit the area for the fall color changes
- Helpful information for planning your visit to the Smoky Mountains
You can also jump straight to the site’s information specific to fall foliage.
Ready to start planning your Gatlinburg vacation? Make sure to check out all of the best places to stay in Gatlinburg TN, so you can get the best view of the Gatlinburg fall colors every time you step outside!
33 thoughts on “When Do the Leaves Change Color in the Fall in Gatlinburg?”
We’re planning a trip to Gatlinburg the first week in October.. any idea if that should be a good time for fall foliage viewing??
You can probably find some leaves changing in the higher elevations, so I would plan to hike some… if you are able to. I have been many times and usually in the mid to lower elevations the colors are good from about Oct 24 to about the first few days of Nov
Can you tell me the elevation of Gatlinburg?
I am planning to visit gatlinburg the weekend of 10th Oct. Please suggest the locations to view the best of the fall colors during this period.
can any one tell when is the best time to vist the top of smokies to see the pretty fall color’s? thanks
i visited in the weekend of 11th Oct, it was good. I think the coming weekend will be more beautiful.
Cades cove is the best place to go while visiting Gatlinburg. Just google it for directions, history and pics. AWESOME !!
What is it like the Week of Thanksgiving?
Great reading material. I’ve learned a lot by reading here. Thanks!
Leaves are beginning to change now in Gatlinburg, and the nights are cooling off. And the acorns are dropping — not sure what that means, but probably that the Fall Foliage in the Smoky Mountains will be spectacular this year.
i am planning on being in gatlinburg the week of 18-24. i hope the colors are full by then. i am taking my parents with me, they have been coming there for almost 50 years now, may be their last trip, i am hoping they will enjoy it.
Last week of October seems to have the best colors.
We are getting married in Gatlinburg on 11-11-11 and I am hoping the leaves will still be beautiful. Can someone give me an update where the colors are at.
Greetings from Seattle
I’m suprising my hubby with a trip to Smokey Mountains toward the end of Oct 2012. He’s a city boy fromm Seattle and I ‘m a country girl from TX. Want him to fall in love with Gatlinberg or TN in general. I would love to relocate to this area from Seattle. Anyway, any suggestions on where to visit during Fall foliage and a great mountain geatway would be greatly appreciated!Thank you!
Sugar Maple Cabins – http://www.sugarmaplecabins.com, is a great place to stay Diana. If you’re looking for places to view the fall foliage definitely plan on Cades Cove as well as driving down Rich Mountain Road.
We have a very comfortable, nice cabin in Pigeon Forge. It has a beautiful view of the mountains and wonderful Fall colors. I also suggest you visit Cades Cove for sure. You might even get lucky and see a bear there.
My wife and I visited our timeshare in Gatlinburg last year from 10/22/11 to 10/29/11, and as we were driving into the foothills of the Smokies the leaves were absolutely breathtaking and at their peak. When we checked out on the 29th and departed on the same road we came in on, we were amazed at what was before us. Even from the valley on up over Hwy. 441 south, the leaves that hadn’t already fallen from the trees were mostly dark red to brown. Hardly any yellow/orange left. Might I add that as we topped the elevation around Clingman’s dome entrance, there were no leaves but it was snowing. We and the kids had a wonderful time.
All in all, as far as last year, the second and third weeks of Oct. were the apex of the spectacular leaf viewing. We’re already reserved for the 3rd weekend of Oct. for this year. Hope this helps.
Thanksgiving break begins November 17. We would love to know the best place for peak leaves during this time. Will it be too late??? I hope not:)
Want to plan a trip to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinberg during 2012 color change/peak fall colors! When should I come?
HI WOULD YOU KNOW IF OCT 22 TO THE 29 WOULD BE NICE FALL COLORS THIS YEAR THANK YOU RON AND CHERYL CHERYL
They’d probably still be pretty good then Ron.