Known for its sweeping mountains that change from lush green to a captivating collage of color during the fall season, the Great Smoky Mountains is a destination you’ll want to move to the top of your travel bucket list this year.
If you’re planning a trip to the Smokies this fall, but aren’t sure what to do once you get there, we’ve got you covered. You can make the most of your Smoky Mountain adventure this fall with activities ranging from hiking, sightseeing and even amusement rides.
Explore The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Taking their name from the blue haze that covers the mountains, the Smokies have been a national treasure for decades and have become an iconic travel destination. It’s no wonder The Great Smoky Mountains National Park brings in a staggering 9.4 million visitors each year, making it the most visited national park in the country.
The park is packed with breathtaking mountaintop views, pristine streams and vibrant forests. There are also nearly 400 miles of roadways with scenic pull-offs that wind through the mountain range.
Take Advantage of the Fall Colors
Autumn brings a breathtaking seven-week display to the Smoky Mountains each year. From the end of September through early to mid-November, the mountains take on rich hues of reds, yellows and browns as the leaves begin to turn. With over 100 different species of trees and plants, the Smokies are sure to put on a spectacular show yet again.
Keep in mind that if you’re planning a trip to see the fall foliage, you’ll want to pay attention to the foliage predictions. There are many different factors that determine when and where the leaves change each year.
Enjoy a Scenic Hike
Roughly 800 miles of maintained hiking trails populate the Smokies, 70 of which cross the Appalachian Trail, making the park an ideal destination for hikers. Hike up to Clingmans Dome and experience the Smokies from the highest point in Tennessee, or hop on the Appalachian Trail for hikes such as the Jump Off or Charlies Bunion.
Don’t forget to take the time to stop by a few of the many waterfalls that hide on some of the trails, like the popular Rainbow Falls on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. If you’re not sure which hike is right for you, check out some of our favorite hiking spots.
Learn about more family fun activities in Tennessee.
Ride through Cades Cove
Cades Cove is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This scenic mountain valley drive stretches across 11 miles, winding you through a picturesque valley where you can see deer, coyotes and other park wildlife.
Cades Cove also has a few historic attractions including several churches and log homes that capture the region’s rich Appalachian heritage. If you choose to drive, be sure to pull off and take advantage of these iconic sights and 19th century historic spots, most of which you can actually explore inside.
Want to explore the cove without worrying about traffic? Every Wednesday and Saturday in early May to late September, the roads are only open to hikers and bicyclists until 10 a.m.
Visit One of the Many Historic Sites
With its long history, the Smoky Mountains is the perfect spot to explore some rich, southern Appalachian heritage. The mountain range is home to over 90 historical structures including houses, barns, outbuildings, churches, schools and grist mills. Some of the best places to see these historical gems are at Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Oconaluftee and along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
Stroll through Gatlinburg
Gatlinburg, a quaint little town just outside the park, offers a unique strip filled with cute shops, bakeries and hand crafted goodies so you can take home a piece of the Smokies. Be sure to check out Gatlinburg’s iconic Pancake Pantry or one of the many other breakfast venues before starting your Smoky Mountain adventure.
If the kids are looking for fun, try one of the many amusement rides scattered across the Gatlinburg strip. There are attractions for all ages, from the kids or dad. We’ve even found some coupons for your trip.
Get a Bird’s Eye View
If you’re looking for a bird’s eye view of the Smokies, check out Aerial Tramway. This 120-passenger tram provides a captivating aerial view of Gatlinburg and the picturesque mountains surrounding the town.
If you’re looking for some breathtaking scenery combined with outdoor activities and fun for all ages, you’ll definitely want to head out to the Smoky Mountains this fall.
Most outdoor activities have some level of risk, and you may need to consult an expert before engaging in the activity. Always
check the current weather conditions before embarking on any outdoor activity.