Bright fall colors throughout the Smoky Mountains
September 11, 2023

We love the fall season in the Smoky Mountains. Of course, the fall leaves are the main reason people visit the Smokies this time of year, but we love the fall for more than just the colors. The fall season means campfires, sweaters, and hot apple cider, and there’s no better place to celebrate the season than at our condos in Pigeon Forge. But now you’re probably asking yourself, “When is the best time to visit to see the fall colors in the Smoky Mountains?” Well, we have those answers for you, just read below!

Early Fall Season

Fall colors covering the Smoky Mountains

This is the time of year when vacationers start counting down the days to the fall weather. The Smoky Mountains are absolutely beautiful, but when the fall colors start to shine through, the mountains become even more stunning.

In September, guests can expect the summer season to begin fading into the fall season. There won’t be any major leaf changes in September, but it’s possible to see some of the colors peeking through the leaves in the upper elevations. If you really want to see the colors, wait until October to visit the mountains!

(See Related: Here’s What the Fall Colors are Like from Your Condo in Pigeon Forge)

Mid Fall Season

The fall colors in the Smoky Mountains usually last for about 6 weeks, from start to finish. It won’t be until October that colors start to arrive in the mountains. Don’t expect the colors to be vivid around the first couple weeks of the months, but by the end of the month, there will definitely be colors all over the Smokies.

The colors will start to change in the upper elevations first, around 4,000 feet. Clingmans Dome is a popular place to visit during the middle of October because you can see the colors for miles and miles. The observation tower at Clingman’ Dome is extremely popular because of the panoramic view. Don’t forget to take your camera with you when you go!

By the end of October, the colors will make their way from the upper elevations to the lower elevations of the mountains. When the colors reach the lower elevations, you will be able to see the colors from just about anywhere.

Late Fall Season

Breathtaking fall colors in the mountains near Pigeon Forge TN.

The fall season will wrap up around the middle to end of November. The fall colors will stick around for at least the first week or so of November.

At Cherokee Lodge Condos, we recommend planning your vacation to Pigeon Forge toward the end of October or the beginning of November, this way, you will be able to see the fall colors in the Smoky Mountains at their peak. If you’ve already planned your stay for a little earlier than the end of October, don’t worry! There will still be colors in the upper elevations for you to see!

How Do the Leaves Change Colors?

Every year, visitors wait for the green leaves to turn into reds, yellows, and oranges all over the mountaintops. But what makes them change color? Although there is a lengthy scientific explanation, the answer is quite simple, really. When the fall weather moves into the Smokies, the temperature begins to drop, dropping to the lowest temperatures in the upper elevations. This cool weather causes the leaves to lose their green pigments, allowing the true colors of red, yellow and orange to shine through the leaves.

The fall colors are so remarkable in the Smoky Mountains because of the diversity of trees (there are over 100 species of trees in the national park). Many people wait on the ‘first freeze’ to know when the fall colors in the Smoky Mountains will arrive. We don’t need the weather to freeze, but we do need the cool fall atmosphere to make its way to the area!

Where to Find Fall Colors in the Smoky Mountains

fall at The Island

Now that you know the best times to visit to see the fall colors in the Smoky Mountains, you’re ready to start planning! Are you looking for the best places to see the fall colors this year? Learn more about the Top 4 Places in Pigeon Forge to See the Fall Colors of the Smoky Mountains.