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One of our favorite Smoky Mountain cities is back in the news! TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website, recently released its guide to the top 10 fall foliage destinations in the U.S., and Gatlinburg, Tennessee scored a spot on the list. While New England typically gets the most national attention for its fall scenery, we are thrilled to see that the Gatlinburg fall colors are getting the recognition they deserve.
Fall Travel on the Rise
According to data collected by TripAdvisor, fall vacations are more popular than ever. 82% of U.S. travelers surveyed by the travel website reported that that they are planning an autumn getaway. Obviously, the changing leaves are the major driver of travel during the fall, but other factors make October and November ideal for a vacation as well. In contrast to the summer, the fall season brings cooler, more comfortable weather and less traffic on the highways. Additionally, many people choose to take a fall getaway because they are looking for a pick-me-up between the end of summer and the start of the holiday season.
(See Also: 5 Amazing Things to Do in Gatlinburg in October)
In order to compile its list of the top 10 fall foliage destinations in the U.S., TripAdvisor pulled information from millions of online reviews. The quality and quantity of reviews related to fall colors, local attractions, places to stay, and restaurants determined which cities made the grade. Here is a quick sampling of what TripAdvisor users had to say about the Gatlinburg fall colors:
- “Words and pictures cannot describe the beauty. My friend who has been to 50 states told me this was the prettiest he has seen. Hearing this I had to see for myself. The beauty will stay with me for a lifetime.”
- “My Happy Place!!! This has to be what Heaven is gonna look like. All seasons are beautiful but if you have not experienced it in the fall when the colors peak then you have no idea what beauty is. Put it on your bucket list. You will not be sorry.”
- “The most wonderful changing of the leaves I’ve ever seen. We were lucky to see the peak season. Cades Cove had the best foliage change….ever. Lots of reds, yellows, oranges…This is my 4th trip to the Gatlinburg area. Love, love this place…so serene…so beautiful.”
- “Best color in the trees that we have seen EVER! Not too crowded and a beautiful drive through the mountains in the convertible.”
- “Natural beauty everywhere you look, fabulous fall color, my favorite place on the planet. The park service employees in visitors centers are extremely helpful, and every single place in the park is clean, well maintained and beautiful.”
When planning an autumn vacation in Gatlinburg, the million dollar question is, “When is the best time to see the fall colors?” The answer to this question really depends on where in the Smokies you are.
In early and mid-October, the leaves change color in the highest elevations of the mountains. This is a great time to visit Clingmans Dome, Newfound Gap Road, the Wonders of Flight Balloon Ride, or the Gatlinburg Space Needle to enjoy panoramic views of the fall foliage.
During the last two weeks of October and the first week of November, truly spectacular fall colors come to the lower elevations. If you will be in Gatlinburg at this point in the season, taking an autotour of Cades Cove is a must! This is also an excellent time for a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some of the best fall hiking trails include the West Prong Trail, The Sinks, Laurel Falls, Metcalf Bottoms, and Ace Gap.
For a more detailed look at the season, check out Your Ultimate Guide to the Gatlinburg Fall Colors.
Due to the growing popularity of the fall colors, autumn is one of the busiest times to visit Gatlinburg. Lodging gets booked up quickly this time of year, as vacationers try to time their trip with the foliage.
To find the perfect lodging for your fall vacation, visit our Where to Stay in Gatlinburg page. Rather than wasting time on lots of different websites, you can browse cabins, chalets, and condos from a variety of companies all in one place. Our convenient search tool makes it easy to find the specific amenities you want, such as mountain views, indoor Jacuzzi tubs, or a private pool. We can’t wait to see you in Gatlinburg this fall!