Best time to travel to Gatlinburg, TN

Fall Colors in Gatlinburg, TN

The getaway to the Great Smoky Mountains bestows some of the best fall foliage displays in Tennessee

Fall Colors in Gatlinburg, TN
Newfound Gap Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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The Great Smoky Mountains are the unbeatable winner among leaf peeping spots in Tennessee. Visitors often start their vivid experience in Gatlinburg, renowned as a getaway to this glorious national park. The mountain town offers several excellent vantage points to indulge in the fall colors.

Best places to see fall foliage

Gatlinburg Space Needle south of the Parkway is among the top places to view the fall colors in the Smokies. With a height of 407 ft (124 m), the observation tower in downtown Gatlinburg provides a unique bird's eye view of the area. No need to climb a long staircase, as the tower is equipped with two glass elevators. So you'll be able to take in the scenery on your way to the top. For a closer look at brilliant foliage, make use of free viewfinders set on the observation platform.

Another place to meditate over fall colors is Gatlinburg SkyLift Park located on the opposite side of the Parkway. Take in the colorful canopies below on your way to Ober Gatlinburg, the famed amusement park with skiing. You can opt between a scenic chairlift (30-minute ride) or an aerial tramway (10-minute ride), both departing from downtown.

Additionally, in 2019, Gatlinburg SkyLift Park introduced a brand new way to absorb sweeping vistas—Gatlinburg SkyBridge. Stretching for 680 ft (207 m) above the land, the SkyBridge is North America's longest pedestrian suspension bridge. Glass floor panels at 140 ft (45 m) above the valley provide exquisite outlooks. You can access the bridge from Crockett Mountain via the SkyLift ride.

At last, you'll want to drive the Gatlinburg Bypass, also known as Parkway Bypass or U.S. 441 Bypass. The short picturesque route winds for 3.6 mi (5.8 km) and is accessible from both ends of the town.

Best time to see peak fall foliage

The best time always depends on the weather. Usually, the colors develop in mid-to-late October and peak in early November. The catalyst for the most splendid fall foliage is a string of warm and sunny days followed by cool nights. So keep an eye on the weather forecast to capture the most spectacular sights. Make sure to plan your visit before the cold snaps, as slight frosts end with leaves browning up and falling.

See also more spots to observe fall colors across Tennessee.

Practical info

When should you visit Gatlinburg, TN to see fall colors?

Fall colors in Gatlinburg, TN peak early in November, triggered by a streak of warm and sunlit days followed by cold nights. The advent of cold weather results in browning and shedding of leaves, so visitors should plan their trip before the cold sets in. Staying up-to-date with the weather forecast can also help tourists capture the best foliage views. Show more

Which vantage points provide the best views of Gatlinburg's fall colors?

Visitors can find excellent opportunities to take in the fall colors at the two observation locations in Gatlinburg, TN. The Gatlinburg Space Needle situated south of the Parkway provides a unique bird's eye view of the region via its glass lifts. The Gatlinburg Skylift Park provides a scenic chairlift and an aerial tramway that takes visitors to the crockett mountain and the Gatlinburg SkyBridge that extends across 680 ft (207 m) at a height of 140 ft (45 m) above the valley. Show more

Where else can you see colorful canopies while heading towards Ober Gatlinburg?

Tourists can only observe colorful canopies while en route to Ober Gatlinburg by visiting the Gatlinburg Skylift Park. The park offers a spectacular chairlift ride and an aerial tramway departing from downtown. Visitors can also choose to visit Crockett Mountain and Gatlinburg SkyBridge via the SkyLift ride. Crockett Mountain showcases stunning panels of glass floor at a height of 140 ft (45 m) above the valley. Show more

What are the length and height of the Gatlinburg SkyBridge?

The Gatlinburg SkyBridge is North America's longest pedestrian suspension bridge, extending over 680 ft (207 m) at a height of 140 ft (45 m) above the valley below. To access the bridge, visitors can travel to Crockett Mountain via Gatlinburg Skylift Park. The Gatlinburg SkyBridge boasts an awe-inspiring glass-bottom surface, offering gorgeous outlooks for tourists to capture the beauty of the region. Show more

Can you access the Gatlinburg Bypass from both sides of the town?

Tourists can access the Gatlinburg Bypass, also known as the Parkway Bypass or U.S. 441 Bypass, from either end of the town. Visitors can take a scenic 3.6 mi (5.8 km) route to view the gorgeous countryside sights. The Gatlinburg Bypass offers several lookout sites on the way and is a desirable drive to watch the colorful fall foliage in the region. Show more

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Last updated: by Olha Savych