When autumn comes to Gatlinburg, the mountains come alive with the fiery hues of the changing leaves, adorned in brilliant scarlet, rusty orange, and golden yellow. It’s the perfect time of year for sightseeing without the summer heat and partaking in classic fall activities in the area. Read on below to learn more about things to do in Gatlinburg in the fall!
Celebrate the Changing Season with Fun Recreation
From festivals to foliage viewing, Gatlinburg is ripe with opportunities to appreciate the fall season. You don’t have to go any further than downtown Gatlinburg. The Parkway is the place to find fine dining, shops and galleries filled with local arts and crafts, and local distilleries year-round, and during holidays it gets decorated to the max. And fall is no exception, as this popular city walkway overflows with hay bales, scarecrows, and pumpkins and gourds of all shapes, sizes, and colors.
Celebrate with Festivals
One of the most notable fall festivals in Gatlinburg is Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort. Celebrating the traditional Bavarian festival each fall, Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg features traditional German food, music, and—most importantly—beer. Enjoy bratwursts, schnitzel, and strudel while dancing to live polka music performed by the world-famous Smoky Mountain Oompah Band, playing themed games, and sampling craft beer from local breweries around the Smokies.
Another incredible festival is Fall Harvest at the Island in nearby Pigeon Forge. Themed around autumn harvests, you can listen to talented live music on the Old Smoky Moonshine stage, sample seasonal food, and partake in the annual Halloween event in this entertainment-focused town.
Stay downtown and enjoy the Anakeesta Festival at Gatlinburg’s downtown amusement park. Walk through the tree tops on the Treetop Sky Walk and see that fall foliage up close. Or zip over the trees on the Dueling Zipline Adventure, ride the mountain coaster, listen to live music, and sip fall-inspired beverages. A fun way to enjoy great views and the colorful fall foliage is on the Anakeesta Scenic Chondola or climb to the top of the Observation Tower.
Celebrate Fall Colors
Viewing the fall leaves is yet another fall tradition favored by out-of-towners and locals alike. Peak fall foliage season in the Smoky Mountains takes place from mid-October to early November at lower and mid-level elevations, and around mid-September at the highest elevations. During this time, over one hundred species of trees like scarlet oaks, red maples, sugar maples, hickories, and sweetgum put on a breathtaking natural display over the course of around seven weeks or more.
The most remarkable fall colors can often be seen during the last three weeks of October. Cades Cove inside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most popular places to see the changing leaves, particularly by driving. As a result, the trail becomes quite crowded, it’s recommended that you rent a bike and traverse the trail that way, or hike to well-known spots like Inspiration Point, Sutton Ridge Overlook, Look Rock Tower, Appalachian Trail, and Oconaluftee River Trail. Clingman’s Dome is one of the highest spots in the park and one of the best spots for fall foliage viewing. The panoramic view from the observation tower is breathtaking. An alternative to hiking inside of the park? Taking a helicopter tour, where you can take in sweeping views from above.
There are scenic drives through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you can enjoy from the comfort of your own vehicle (or tour bus) too, like the Cades Cove Loop. But if the loop is too crowded, try the Roaring Fork Historic Motor Trail. This scenic drive follows the Roaring Fork River and has several hiking trails to try along the way, including to Rainbow Falls, Grotto Falls and Baskins Creek Falls. There are several large pullovers along the drive too, and while you’re admiring the view, keep an eye out for the occasional bear! Other high spots with great panoramic views that are worth a visit are the Gatlinburg SkyBridge (the country’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge) and the Gatlinburg Space Needle.
Celebrate Fall Flavors
Of course, any coffee spot in Gatlinburg, and maybe even worldwide, will be offering up pumpkin spice lattes, but remember, Tennessee is moonshine country. So many flavors, so little time! Popular moonshine flavors include blackberry and apple pie, made from local ingredients. A few of the best Gatlinburg distilleries for taste testing include Ole Smoky (the most visited distillery in the country), Sugarlands Distilling Co. (try the peppermint or root beer shine), and Tennessee Shine Co., where you can get your pumpkin fix with their Pumpkin Spice Cream. And Wylie Cider Barn makes tasty sparkling cider, hard cider, and apple cider from local apples.
Gatlinburg In The Fall
To find out more about these wonderful fall activities and other cool things you can do year-round in Gatlinburg, contact our team of reservation specialists to discuss reserving your stay in one of our lavish vacation rental cabins today! Learn about the Gatlinburg fall activities today!