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7 Best Places to View Fall Foliage in Tennessee

Tennessee is a popular travel destination no matter what time of year. However, fall brings tourists and travelers wanting to view changing fall foliage in the state. October is the most popular time to catch the forest landscape changing from lush green to the vibrant fall colors of red, yellow, and orange. Embrace the fall season by exploring these top places to view fall foliage in the state of Tennessee.

Clingmans Dome Fall sunset over Clingmans Dome
Credit: Fall sunset over Clingmans Dome by Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Clingmans Dome

This list starts with Clingmans Dome – one of the most popular places in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This observation tower offers 360-degree views of the Smokies, which boasts stunning fall colors if you’re there during peak color change. The paved walkway up to the dome is short, at only half a mile, so this spot sees a lot of different travelers, from motorists to hikers. Found at an elevation of 6,644 feet, Clingmans Dome is one of the highest points in the Smoky Mountains and the highest in both Tennessee and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Newfound Gap Road Great Smoky Mountains
Credit: Great Smoky Mountains by Commons.wikimedia.org

Newfound Gap Road

Newfound Gap Road is in the same area as Clingmans Dome, making for an incredibly scenic and roadtrip-worthy drive. Since there are many overlook opportunities here, Newfound Gap Road is a popular spot for travelers hoping to catch fall colors in the Smoky Mountains. Due to its popularity, hit this road early in the day to avoid traffic. This road is not only known for its fall colors but also for the location where former President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his speech during the grand opening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since the road is one of the lowest spots in the Smokies, fall colors show earlier here than at higher elevations.

Cades Cove Cemetery in Cades Cove
Credit: Cemetery in Cades Cove by © Paulbuhr | Dreamstime.com

Cades Cove

Another Great Smoky Mountains National Park spot to go to during fall is Cades Cove. Cades Cove attracts visitors in the fall because of its dazzling colors and historic buildings. Cades Cove typically sees the most fall color during the last two weeks of October. This 11-mile loop is perfect for a scenic drive, but hikers will also be pleased to find several trailheads along the route.

Gatlinburg Space Needle Gatlinburg Space Needle
Credit: Gatlinburg Space Needle by Gatlinburg Space Needle

Gatlinburg Space Needle

Outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the town of Gatlinburg. You may have a sudden urge to drive outside of town to catch fall colors in the area, but don’t miss out on the view from the Gatlinburg Space Needle before you head out to the national park. With a 360-degree view and standing at 407 feet tall, the view from the top of the Gatlinburg Space Needle is sure to offer breathtaking vistas of the town and the surrounding forest. Guests to the Gatlinburg Space Needle particularly enjoy the glass elevator that brings them to the top of this tower.

Roan Mountain Fall Foliage at Roan Mountain State Park
Credit: Fall Foliage at Roan Mountain State Park by Roan Mountain State Park

Roan Mountain

After exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, spend some time in Roan Mountain State Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee. As in the national park, the Appalachian Trail also passes through this scenic state park. Here you’ll view grassy bald patches in between colorful fall trees. With 2,000 acres of hardwood forest in this state park, you can count on a colorful scene when you visit here during the fall.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Credit: Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail by Angela Loria via Unsplash

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

There is nothing more serene than a waterfall surrounded by changing fall foliage. Therefore head to Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, where two waterfalls offer stunning views. Both Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls are popular areas in this part of the state. The hike to Grotto Falls, a 2.6-mile walk, is a must-do in the area.

Great Smoky Mountain Wheel The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel at The Island at Pigeon Forge
Credit: The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel at The Island at Pigeon Forge by Facebook.com

Great Smoky Mountain Wheel

If you don’t want to head into the mountains to catch fall foliage, you can view it right in Pigeon Forge from the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel. This Ferris wheel gives riders an impressive view of the town and surrounding area. At 200 feet tall, you’re sure to see orange, red, and yellow trees down below. This Ferris wheel is near The Island in Pigeon Forge, a popular attraction in the area with rides, shops, and restaurants.

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