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10 Unique Ways to See Fall Colors in the Smoky Mountains

person from the knees down stands in fall leaves outside

There are so many ways to enjoy fall colors and foliage in

these mountains!

Many have made their lists, but me, I have to be different.

Haha. Yep.

The 1st list of options below are absolutely wonderful and the traditional suggestions for seeing Autumn colors in the Smoky Mountains.

You cannot go wrong with any of those choices.

But I also want to throw out some extra ideas for those of you who may be looking for something unique, unusual, or off the beaten path.

The 2nd list is something different, things that you may not have thought of.

I'm here to inspire you!

So, You May Have Heard About These:

  • Great Smoky Mountain National Park Overlooks

  • Newfound Gap Road

  • Skybridge and SkyTrail in Gatlinburg

  • The view from the Space Needle, Gatlinburg

  • The Foothills Parkway

  • Cade's Cove

  • The Ober Mountain Aerial Tram

  • Gatlinburg Bypass Overlooks

  • Clingman's Dome in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

  • Any of the many hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park


Here are Some Extra, Unique Ideas to Truly Enjoy Fall Colors

in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge

1.) Ziplining

zipliner zips through and over fall forest and mountains

If you are thinking, "no way", you may want to know that all ziplines are NOT the same. Some are very beginner friendly! That's why my guide is pretty valuable.

Yes, I've been ziplining, and it is wonderful! And I'm kind of a chicken sometimes. So if I can do it, you can too. Professionals are there to help you every step of the way.

And the fall foliage and mountain views are 100% worth it!

2.) In a Helicopter

helicopter flies over the mountains at sunset

Helicopter Tours are one of THE best ways to see everything....and I mean everything!

Choose from a variety of flyovers.

There are several professional helicopter tour companies in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge. They are very popular so book early!

3.) Fall Guided Tours

Autumn path in the woods, fall foliage, colorful trees in the forest

Did you know there are many guided walking or ride on tours around the Smoky Mountains area? You might be surprised at what you find.

Take in the extreme beauty and serenity of a walk in the woods as you are safely guided by those who know the area best!

4.) An ATV Tour, Pigeon Forge

A rider with helmet sits on a stationary ATV, all terrain vehicle rider

Really want to go into the back country where only the lucky ones have ever seen?

Go on an ATV or UTV and get off the main roads and out of traffic.

There are many high quality, scenic and fun tours in the area.

5.) Wears Valley (pretty much anywhere!)

A cabin and Fall mountain view in Wears Valley, Sevierville Tennessee

Enjoy Harper Brothers Hawk Skylift - a hidden gem in Wears Valley.

And if you like Moon Pies, you are in luck as well. Visit their cute store, take a relaxing a scenic ride to the top of the mountain, and see the fall foliage and colors from a whole new perspective in the Valley.

The views just driving through the main road in Wears Valley are incredible. Visit an antique store, try some moonshine, have lunch and coffee and feel the peace and serenity of the area.

Then take a scenic drive on the "Missing Link" via The Foothills Parkway.

6.) AnaVista Tower at Anakeesta

AnaVista Tower at Anakeesta attraction in Gatlinburg Tennessee. Mountain Views and sunset with Anakvista Observation tower in the  foreground.

Go up to the highest point in Gatlinburg!

If you decide to visit Anakeesta (and I highly recommend you do), you will have access to this beautiful observation tower that overlooks Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas.

Not only will you be able to experience the fall foliage from the top, but you can enjoy stunning views and the most unique experiences everywhere at this mountaintop attraction.

7.) In An Airplane

the view out of an airplane tour over the mountains, fall colors mountain view, Smoky Mountains

Sky High Air Tours, in Sevierville will take you up in the airplane of your dreams! Aerial tours in an open cockpit biplane, with narration by a highly experienced pilot. Just imagine!!

Highly rated Activity on TripAdvisor.

Also located next to the Tennessee Museum of Aviation.

8.) On Horseback

There are many places to ride horses. The following are my most recommended! Beautiful backwoods scenery and highly rated, experienced professional tour guides.

There are many horse friendly trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and surrounding area.

  • Harper Brothers, Wears Valley

  • Twin Valley Horse Ranch, Walland

  • Cades Cove Riding Stables, Townsend

  • Deer Farm Riding Stables, Sevierville

  • Five Oaks Riding Stables, Sevierville

  • Sugarland Riding Stables, Gatlinburg

9.) On The Water

A group of 7 take a white water rafting trip down the Pigeon River in the Great Smoky Mountains

Need adventure?

Rent a pontoon, jetskis, wakeboards, tubes, paddleboards, paddleboats, kayaks and more! By the hour or overnight for Douglas Lake. H20 Sports Pontoon Rentals has you covered. (check seasonal dates open)

Also, if you are looking for adventure, see Smoky Mountain Outdoors Rafting, accommodating beginners to experienced. Guides in every raft.

10.) In a Hot Air Balloon

a hot air balloon drifts over a farm in the fall in East Tennessee

What's Up Ballooning can lift your spirits!

A fun, peaceful and unique experience like NO OTHER. "We ride at dawn" is their policy, because leaving early is what the owner and pilots say is best!

Float and meander above the lake and mountains with experienced professional balloon operators, and former FAA Aviation Safety Counselors.

11.) Ride Some Mountain Coasters

My POV riding uphill on The Wild Stallion Mountain Coaster at Skyland Ranch Theme Park attraction in Sevierville, Tennessee

Riding a Mountain Coaster is NOT like a regular roller coaster. It is a more personal are in control, because they all have hand braking, so if you need to slow down, it's all up to you and you only.

Also ride with a partner or child, just the 2 of you. (weight restrictions apply) See and feel the air, the trees, the scents of fall or spring. Any season is open, but Fall is probably one of the best and most scenic!



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