The rolling mountains of Gatlinburg are an ideal destination for a fall getaway. Temperatures are still warm enough to take full advantage of the plentiful outdoor activities, while the cooler evenings are perfect for cozying up around a fire. Fall also sees the landscape in and around Gatlinburg come alive with brilliant reds, oranges, and golds, turning an already beautiful landscape into a stunning backdrop for outdoor adventures. Whether you plan to shop and dine your way through a fall getaway to Gatlinburg or take full advantage of this outdoor playground, be sure to add some of our favorite fall activities in Gatlinburg to the itinerary!

Leaf Peeping

Fall days in Gatlinburg are made for enjoying the changing leaves, whether from the comfort of your vehicle on a scenic drive or from the packed dirt trail with the brilliant canopy spread out overhead. While it varies each year, the best time to see fall colors in Gatlinburg generally tends to be from mid-October to early November. If your visit is planned for earlier in the season, head to higher elevations to catch sight of those autumn colors. In the mountains and forests that can be found in and around Gatlinburg, the black maple tree’s leaves transform to glowing yellow, the sugar maples to a brilliant orange-red, and the hickories to a deep golden bronze.

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For those who prefer to enjoy fall foliage in comfort, options abound. Take the Aerial Tramway on a 2.1-mile journey from Gatlinburg’s downtown to Ober Gatlinburg, soaking in aerial views of Gatlinburg’s best fall foliage along the way as you climb 1,472 feet in elevation. The Gatlinburg Space Needle is another ideal location for enjoying a breathtaking aerial view of Gatlinburg in the fall, with the area’s brilliant colors spread out beneath the 407-foot observation tower. To enjoy the fall foliage from the comfort of your vehicle, plan a drive down Clingmans Dome Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or the Foothills Parkway. And of course, for those who enjoy the challenge and satisfaction of a good hike, getting out on the trail provides an up close and personal fall experience!


The Andrews Bald Hiking Trail is a great trail for leaf peeping while also enjoying the exhilaration of hiking through gorgeous terrain. This 3.5-mile round trip hike offers panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains and surrounding highlands, made especially stunning when fall colors are at their peak. Sugarland Mountain Trail is another destination for experiencing the beauty of Gatlinburg’s fall foliage while on foot. With a round-trip distance of 7 miles, this lengthier hike allows for the quiet and solitude of making your way through forestland that has been transformed by fall colors. This is definitely one of the all-time favorite fall activities in Gatlinburg!


Whether you’re an experienced angler or are looking for a laid-back way to spend your days with the family in Gatlinburg, fishing is a great option during fall months. With the appropriate permit, fishing opportunities are available in areas such as the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River, LeConte Creek, Roaring Fork Creek, and Dudley Creek. With Great Smoky Mountains National Park as Gatlinburg’s neighbor, you’ll also want to explore the many waterways within the park, most of which allow fishing. Only single-hook lures and flies as bait are permitted in both Gatlinburg and the park. If you don’t plan to bring along your own fishing gear, check out The Smoky Mountain Angler in Gatlinburg for all the supplies you’ll need to enjoy a day out on Gatlinburg’s waters!

You’ll find a wide variety of fish at the end of your line when you fish in Gatlinburg. Brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, rock bass, and panfish are all common. Gatlinburg regularly stocks its waters with trout, so although that means there is no fishing permitted on Thursdays when restocking occurs, it also means the waters are consistently teeming with fish. In fact, the Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament is often held at the beginning of October, when trout fishing in the Smokies is at its best.

Fall Events in Gatlinburg

Celebrate Oktoberfest throughout the month at Ober Gatlinburg, where the food, drinks, and music will quickly put you in a festive fall spirit. Feast on Bavarian-style food while watching The Smoky Mountain Oompah Band perform traditional folk dances in full costume. The Bier Garten is the perfect place to indulge in a schnitzel and Bavarian beer before exploring all the rest that Ober Gatlinburg has to offer!

If you’re looking for an extra spooky way to celebrate Halloween this year, consider attending one of Ripley’s Fright Nights at Ripley’s Haunted Adventure. Set in a renovated mansion that definitely evokes a spooky feel, this haunted adventure takes the traditional haunted house to the next level. Though families are welcome, children must be at least six to enter. The Ripley’s franchise boasts eight separate Gatlinburg attractions including the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, world-class aquarium, a 5D moving theater, a mirror maze, and themed mini-golf courses.

In search of Gatlinburg accommodations or more ideas for your fall getaway? Contact us at Smoky Mountain Realty Partners for more information!

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