Are you an autumn leaf peeker?! The Smoky Mountains are the perfect destination in 2022 for chasing fall colors. Additionally, this will be the last year before the national park starts entrances fees. Making now the perfect time to visit. Worried you’ll miss the best season of them all? Don’t worry, we are the Tennessee fall experts here to help plan your next vacation. Here is the low down on all the best spots to see fall colors in the Smoky Mountains!
Best Time to Go: Fall Colors in Smoky Mountains
Since fall is such a short season in the mountains, the best time to go depends on where you are staying. The elevation varies between 875 and 6,643 feet, making the leaves in higher elevation turn faster than the trees at lower elevation. Tennessee fall typically lasts about 3 weeks from mid October to early November. If you are staying in our glamping domes, the best weekend to stay under the leaves is the last week of October. November can tend to dip into the snow on cold nights so make sure to secure your dates now for the short time frame.
Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway
A chill ride 469 miles up the mountain into Cherokee, North Carolina full of pull offs with views points. Most pull offs feature parking on the side of the road or there are designated lots where trail heads or more popular viewpoints are present. The parkway is windy so bring some non-drowsy Dramamine with you if you tend to get car sick.
This fall trail starts at one of the most popular swimming holes in the North Carolina side of the Smokies, the Sinks. But since you’ll be visiting in the fall, take this waterfall hike instead. The intermediate hike is about 3.5 miles to Meigs Falls. Just make sure not to hike past the cascades 1.7 miles in if it has been raining as there will be flooding.
Hen Wallow Falls is a popular day hike, 4.4 miles roundtrip and considered moderate in difficulty because of steep switchbacks. There is just something more magical about fall hikes near the water at this time of year. When you arrive to the end, you find a 20 foot cascade that often has salamanders at the bottom. The rest of the hike is through an ancient forest Click here to read more about the trails specifics.
Stops along the trail include Noah “Bud” Ogle historic area, Roaring Fork Creek, Grotto Falls, and benches to sit at to take in the view. At whatever speed you are inclined. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the Place of a Thousand Drips waterfall just towards the end. You have a little bit of everything on this route so we recommend taking the full day for this loop.
Luftee Overlook on Newfound Gap Road
Want those stunning views and an amazing overlook without a long hike?! Check out this viewpoint. Located just over the Tennessee, North Carolina border. Pro Trip: Save this location into your Google Maps before you go to make sure you gave the right directions. If you download the map on wifi, you can open and interact with it even with no cell service. Cause you don’t wanna miss out on all these spots!
This trail is considered to be a strenuous 8 mile out and back hike. But one of the best. During the hike you pass three grand waterfalls, cascades and all the fall foliage. Truly magical to hear the running water pass as you watch the leaves fall. Not into hiking as much as the drive by view points?! Still wanna hear the rapids?! Don’t worry, Dunn’s Creek runs through our GLAMP property and you can listen to it all night long from your private deck. Click here to see some pics of the creek!
Speaking of creeks, check this one out! If you are an avid fisherman, this is the perfect place to cast off for trout. Make sure to stop by a rangers station to get the wildlife certifications you need in order to fish! There are historical structures on hikes as well as a horse camp where you can book a ride here!
AstroLumina at Anakeesta
Opening October 21, 2022 is this new cosmo experience at Anakeesta, Astrolumina! This is the best way to explore the changing trees at night for a different, bear free experience. Connect with the stars in the treetops of their canopy walk with special art installs, projections and light shows for this season only. Ask for an exclusive deal when you booking your tickets by mentioning we sent you.
Just down the road from GLAMP is the cutest little, family owned apple orchard. It will have the quintessential pumpkin farm vibes with the end of the apple orchard trees turning for fall. You can wander around the apple trees, take family photos and check out their restaurant for lunch! They have the tastiest treats and its a small escape from GLAMP if you would prefer not to venture into the downtown areas.
This spot is great for families and or the history buff of the group. This is where they used to grind corn into cornmeal to feed neighbors in the 1800’s. Elk frequent the area and you can explore inside the mill house and even see a demonstration on how it works. Open 9 am to 5 pm depending on when in the season you choose to go. Check out more info here!
A constructed overlook point over the crest of the Smoky Mountains. It is a less than two mile and heavily trafficked hike. It is moderately difficult after the initial mile as there are steps straight up. The hike is short but you do gain an extreme amount of elevation. If you are prone to respiratory reactions at different, elevations hike with caution. Click here to learn more about the wildfire that struck the area in 2017 and how it has changed in recent years.
Look Rock Tower is located on the scenic Foothills Pathway which is beautiful in itself. Pull of and take this quick half mile hike to the 360-degree panoramic view from the tower. You can see up to 40 miles into the park and it is absolutely gorgeous with the colors of autumn. The picnic area is now closed but it is truly a great hike to a view point for everyone. Just like Clingman’s Dome.
An 11 mile, one-way loop for cars to drive through a gorgeous and historic valley. There are multiple trails, 19th century churches, and wildlife all around. So… Pro Tip: Go early in the morning as leaf peepers typically are in no rush to go fast on this path. You are frequently at a dead stop watching a damn leaf fly across the road. Or if you wanna try out a road less traveled, check out Rich Mountain Road over Rich mountain. It is an 8 mile one way loop similar to Cades Cove, but looking over it.
Skipping the Smoky Mountains during the fall would be a mistake. Escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Gatlinburg and over trafficked areas around Sevierville for the rolling hills of Cosby, Tennessee. Our glamping domes or cabins are perfect for this weather with great views. Make sure to check out our current availability for the year while it lasts! And make sure to tag us when you check out the Best Spots to See Fall Colors in Smoky Mountains!