SkyLand chairlift with fall foliage

Smoky Mountain Fall Foliage Forecast

October 2, 2023

Fall is considered one of the most beautiful times of the year in the Smoky Mountains area, and for good reason! In fall, the mountain landscape comes alive with various shades of yellows, reds, and oranges. Not only can this majestic scenery be enjoyed up in the mountains, but it can also be seen in the surrounding towns like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville. Here’s your guide to everything you need to know about Smoky Mountain fall foliage and how you can enjoy it!

Why Do the Leaves Change Color in Fall?

Trees with autumn leaves

As the temperatures start to cool down, the deciduous trees in the Smoky Mountains begin to prepare for the winter months ahead. As the days start to get shorter, the green pigment in the leaves begins to deteriorate, and carotenoid pigments are exposed. This causes the leaves to turn yellow. As the sugars in the leaves start to break down, anthocyanins are formed. These chemicals have deep red and purple pigments. One of the reasons why the Smoky Mountains have such a magnificent display of fall foliage is because these forests are filled with a wide diversity of tree species. That means different types of trees display various colors at different times in reaction to the weather, drawing out the duration of Smoky Mountain fall foliage.

When Is the Best Time to See Smoky Mountain Fall Foliage?

The best time to see Smoky Mountain fall foliage varies based on elevation. The autumn colors first appear at the highest elevations since they experience cooler temperatures first. Trees above 4,000 feet in elevation typically start changing in late September or early October. These elevations reach their peak autumn colors around early to mid-October. The middle and lower elevations typically reach their peak fall colors between mid-October and early November.

Where Are the Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the Smoky Mountains?

aerial view of SkyLand Ranch surrounded by fall foliage

In the beginning of leaf changing season, the best views of Smoky Mountain fall foliage can be found at the higher elevations since they experience fall colors first. This includes places like Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap. If you want to experience the best fall scenery later in the season, then you should check out the middle and lower elevations, such as Cades Cove, Roaring Fork, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville.

Enjoy the Beauty of Fall at SkyLand Ranch

An especially great place to see breathtaking fall foliage and views of the autumn mountain landscape is SkyLand Ranch in Sevierville. When you travel up to the top of SkyLand Ranch in the fall, you’ll get to experience magnificent views of Smoky Mountain fall foliage. SkyLand Ranch is located 350 feet above the Parkway at an elevation of over 1,000 feet. This gives you a great vantage point to see fall foliage at multiple elevations, from the town below to the surrounding Smoky Mountains landscape.

Find out more about the things to do at SkyLand Ranch this fall and why it’s the best fall attraction in Sevierville!

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