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Fall in the Smokies

It is my professional opinion that the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee are the most beautiful place to visit during the fall. The rolling hills and picturesque mountains, painted in all shades of red, orange and yellow top any other destination during this time of year.

As a local, I have spent many an October visiting Dollywood, Gatlinburg and the Smokies as a whole. As the days slowly get shorter and the nights get a tad brisker, a visit to the Smoky Mountains NEEDS to be in the plans for any group looking for some fall entertainment. Check out a quick list of my usual must-dos for September and October.

Dollywood’s Harvest Festival featuring Great Pumpkin LumiNights

Obviously, this is number one. Nothing screams fall more than putting on a Vols sweater and literally screaming through the trees on Wild Eagle. Dollywood’s Harvest Festival featuring Great Pumpkin LumiNights have become the iconic elements of autumn in the Smoky Mountains. The already beautiful park gets a fantastic thematic overlay to match the season and literally “glows” with pumpkin spice energy. I could go on and on about the multiple aspects of this festival that make it so great, but come on, this is the Dollywood Blog, you already know.


There’s a brand-new festival element this year for Great Pumpkin LumiNights! Hoot Owl Hollow is a shoo-in for this year’s “most Instagrammable display.”

Smoky Mountain Views

Folks around here don’t call it “leaf-looking season” for nothing. The Smokies are a world-wide destination for fall foliage, and it’s easy to see why. For visitors looking to maximize their views of the national park there are several options:

Go for a hike:

If you’re like me and you love some outdoor time, there are many hikes with incredible views. My personal favorite is the Shuckstack Fire Tower Trail. If you want to research before picking your Smoky Mountain loop, I suggest visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website.

Go for a drive:

Not all fall views require rigorous activity. If you’re looking for a close-up of the trees without the work, hop on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. If you have a big group and aren’t wanting the driver to miss out on anything. Check out Pink Jeep Adventure Tours. These tricked-out jeeps allow viewing for the whole family without the hassle of traffic management.

Go for a lift:

My last suggestion for mountain viewing – hop on a chair lift. There are a few of these attractions dotting the area, and they are another great way to get hike-level views without the hassle. Many of these lifts feature some mountain top attractions and restaurants, like Gatlinburg SkyLift Park. Take a ride up the hillside, get some dinner and sit a spell. You won’t be disappointed.


Gatlinburg is already a picturesque mountain town. Add in the changing leaves and some seasonal décor, and you get an even more beautiful backdrop for a Sunday stroll. Now, Gatlinburg offers their own Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival (we love the name btw). The event combines seasonal decorations, events and showcases across the town. The can’t-miss event is the Craftsmen’s Fair. From Oct. 13-30, artisans and craftspeople flood the area to showcase their work. Dollywood visitors will recognize some of these displays, as many of the seasonal craftspeople from the park also pay homage to this festival. For more dates and info on the fair, check out Gatlinburg.com.


While you’re in Gatlinburg, you have to check out the Donut Friar. While it may not have any Dollywood cinnamon bread, it was the perfect spot to fix a sweet tooth.

The Smokies are an ideal fall destination for families, couples and really anyone looking to see the mountains at their best. If you’re an out-of-towner reading this, plan your weekend getaway today! If you’re a local, what are you waiting for?

By | 2022-09-09T17:17:00+00:00 September 9th, 2022|Family Visits|0 Comments

About the Author:

Joshua Sauer is a local East Tennessean who has always referred to Dollywood as his second home. Being the youngest of his family, he always wanted to play with the “big kids” at the park. His favorite childhood memory is when he was finally tall enough to ride Thunderhead. He is a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee and a rather loud fan of the Big Orange. Growing up beside Norris Lake, Joshua prefers to be on water when he is not riding a roller coaster. His favorite non-Dollywood hobbies include: spending time with his fiancée, water skiing, wearing orange and refusing to grow up even a little bit.
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