It’s no secret that we love fall at the Gatlinburg Space Needle; it is without a doubt our favorite time of year. There is no other season during which the views from the top of our needle are as gorgeous and breathtaking as they are in autumn — though the snow-capped mountains in the winter are a close second. Autumn from the top of the Space Needle is liking down onto a gorgeous sea of color — you’ll see shades of reds, oranges, and yellows you didn’t even know existed.
Today, we are going to tell you when to see the best fall colors in Gatlinburg. But keep in mind that only Mother Nature knows for sure when her leaves will peak. Nonetheless, we have been around long enough to be able to predict these Smoky Mountain leaves with decent accuracy.
According to the Gatlinburg Press Room, “color displays above 4,000 feet start in mid-September with the turning of yellow birch, American beech, mountain maple, hobblebush and pin cherry.” The best place to see Fall color in mid-September through the middle if October is on Clingman’s Dome Road and the Tennessee-North Carolina line on Newfound Gap Road (Highway 441).
Cades Cove and the Townsend area of the Smokies sees fall color late than the higher altitudes, starting in mid-October. As the most popular destination in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, expect the traffic in Cades Cove to be stop-and-go during peak color times. The best way to enjoy the color is to park and hike one of the many trails in Cades Cove, such as the one to Abrams Falls.
According to color-expert Nancy Gray, Gatlinburg’s fall colors spring to life, on average, the third week of October. However, she warns “we have had seasons the last few years when full change was delayed, with most trees staying green through much of October, then giving us great color show the second week in November.”
The absolute best viewing area for Gatlinburg’s fall colors is from the top of the Gatlinburg Space Needle. Our 360-degree view allows you to surround yourself in the colors on Mount LeConte, as well as those decorating the city below. Sunset is the best time for photographs, as the golden glow of the trees is highlighted by the softer rays of the setting sun. Buy your discount tickets online.