downtown gatlinburg in the fall at sunset
August 8, 2023

Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains are home to some of the most magnificent autumn leaves in the nation! You don't want to miss the chance to explore the area during this time of the year. To help you make the most of your vacation, Parkside Cabin Rentals has put together a list of the top 10 spots for seeing the fall colors in Gatlinburg and the Smokies:

1. Clingmans Dome

At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the state of Tennessee. This observation tower offers stunning panoramic views of the mountains covered in autumn foliage. We recommend visiting Clingmans Dome in early October, because the leaves start to change towards the beginning of the season in the highest elevations of the Smokies.

2. Ober Mountain Aerial Tramway

Ober Mountain tram in the fall

The Ober Mountain Aerial Tramway takes guests from The Strip all the way up to the Ober Mountain Amusement Park. In addition to providing a convenient way to get to Ober, this cable car offers breathtaking views of the fall colors in the mountains. From late September throughout the month of October, the park hosts a fun fall festival, so a visit to Ober should definitely be on your to-do list this autumn.

3. Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook

When you’re driving along the Gatlinburg Bypass, be sure to pull over and stop at the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook. From this vantage point you will be able to see the fall leaves in both downtown Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The contrast in elevation between the city and Mt. LeConte makes this view totally unique.

4. Cades Cove

view of Cades Cove during the fall

Cades Cove is one of the most popular places in the national park to visit year round, but in the fall, it is simply spectacular. This incredibly scenic valley offers excellent views of fall leaves on the trees and in the mountains. As you make your way around the 11 mile loop road, you will also have the chance to see historic buildings and some of the area’s most beloved animals, such as deer, turkey, and black bears.

5. Anakeesta

Anakeesta is a magical outdoor adventure for everyone in the family to enjoy. It provides spectacular views all year long, but is even more beautiful in the fall. You will love trying the Dual Zipline Adventure, which allows you to soar through the trees beside the person of your choice, and the Tree Canopy Walk, which will put you right in the middle of all the gorgeous colors of fall.

6. Gatlinburg Space Needle

Located in the heart of the city, the Gatlinburg Space Needle is a 407 foot tall observation tower that provides 360 degree views of the downtown area and the mountains. Whether you use the free view finders or just your naked eye, you will enjoy stunning vistas of the fall foliage.

7. Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

river during fall in roaring fork

For up close views of the fall foliage, it’s hard to beat hiking in the national park! With over 800 miles of beautiful trails in the Smokies, you’re sure to find the right hike for your group. Here are some of the best autumn hikes:

  • Rocky Top (late September)

  • Andrews Bald (late September)

  • Sugarland Mountain Trail (early - mid October)

  • Spence Field (early - mid October)

  • Little River Trail (mid - late October)

  • Porters Creek Trail (mid - late October)

  • Charlies Bunion (mid - late October)

  • Abrams Falls (early November)

  • Schoolhouse Gap (early November)

8. Gatlinburg SkyLift

This fun chairlift ride leaves from downtown Gatlinburg and takes guests up 1,800 feet to the top of Crockett Mountain. At the top, not only will you have panoramic views of the fall foliage, but you can walk across the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the country, go for a stroll along the SkyTrail, or grab a drink and a bite to eat in the SkyCenter. The fall fun never ends at Gatlinburg SkyPark!

9. Scenic Drives

Newfound Gap during fall

Driving through the national park is one the best ways to see the fall colors without working up a sweat or spending money. Here are a few of our favorite places for autotouring during the autumn:

  • Newfound Gap Road

  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

  • Wears Valley Road

  • Little River Road

10. Gatlinburg Cabin Rentals

A cabin rental is a fantastic place to enjoy the fall colors in Gatlinburg. Whether you lean back in a rocking chair or soak in the hot tub, you will find tremendous views of the foliage from your cabin’s deck. To start planning your autumn getaway, check out our selection of Gatlinburg cabins!

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