Here in East Tennessee, autumn’s arrival ushers in a few annual traditions. The kids head back to school, football season kicks off, and the fall colors of the Great Smoky Mountains emerge. This dazzling display of blazing reds, bright oranges, light yellows, and calming browns hits the region beginning in September, with peak leaf season coming in October and early November.
Pigeon Forge provides the perfect vantage point from which to view the Great Smoky Mountains’ fall foliage. Not only does the town overlook the Smokies, it’s surrounded by opportunities to get outside, stay active and explore the natural world once the summer heat has ended and “leaf season” is underway. Whether you’re setting out for a long weekend of exploration in the crisp fall air or just in town for an overnight stay, the Pigeon Forge-Gatlinburg area is rife with opportunities for autumn fun.
Top 5 Ways to Enjoy a Fall Trip to the Great Smoky Mountains:
- Visit America’s Most Popular National Park (For Free)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most popular of America’s national parks – and for good reason. Admission to the area is absolutely free of charge, and the opportunities for exploration are countless. Great Smoky Mountains National Park – located less than 10 miles from Pigeon Forge – is renowned as a year-round destination and an outdoors enthusiast’s dream. As summer’s wildflowers fade, the fall foliage emerges, transforming the area into a spectacular kaleidoscope of colors. Popular fall activities in the Smokies include hiking, biking, horseback riding, and auto touring.
Look Rock Tower. Accessible via a moderate 1-mile hike, this tower provides some of the best panoramas of the Smokies’ spectacular autumn foliage. Head to the Look Rock Tower parking area from Foothills Parkway to discover this unique view.
Did you know?
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to 100 unique species of trees, most of which are deciduous. That’s why the park claims some of America’s most vibrant fall colors.
- Hit the Links for a Scenic Round of Golf
There’s no better backdrop for a game of golf than the cascading colors of the Smokies in autumn. No matter how smooth your short game is, the scenery will be more picturesque than your swing, guaranteed. Gatlinburg Golf Course is tucked between town and the foothills of the Smokies, offering staggering vistas and a stellar place to play 9, 18 – or maybe 36 over two days – holes of golf. Established in 1955, the course features well-manicured fairways, densely wooded sections, and carefully tended greens. Given the popularity of golf in the region and the beautiful setting, green fees ranging from $30 to $60 are a relative bargain.
Gatlinburg Golf Course is known more for its scenery than for its challenging layout, but there are several holes that could give even the most seasoned golfers a fright. The seventeenth is a brutally long 231-yard par 3, and #3 is a tough 529-yard Par 5 that puts a premium on drive accuracy.
Did you know?
RiverStone Resort offers easy access to Gatlinburg Golf Course, as the hotel overlooks the fairway of #7. The hotel is within 20 miles of two additional courses: Eagle’s Landing Golf Club and Bent Creek Golf Village. Learn more about golf near Pigeon Forge.
- Take in the Fall Foliage in the Great Smoky Mountains and Pigeon Forge
There’s no doubt about it: the best thing to do in autumn in Pigeon Forge is to simply soak in the natural beauty surrounding the town. The Pigeon Forge-Gatlinburg region is home to some of America’s most dramatic fall fireworks, and you don’t need to travel into the wilderness to catch a glimpse. RiverStone Resort overlooks the mountains, alight with color all autumn long.
When to Visit:
East Tennessee’s fall foliage season is relatively lengthy. Leaves begin changing color at higher elevations (4,000 feet above sea level-plus) before the bronze, brown and red blanket cascades down the mountains toward the Little Pigeon River Valley, where Pigeon Forge is located. By mid-to-late October, Pigeon Forge usually hits its colorful apex. This date range changes yearly due to climactic shifts, so be sure to consult online resources to get the best guess on when Pigeon Forge fall colors will peak in 2015.
Did you know?
The vast array of fall colors in the Smokies appears thanks to its diverse collection of tree species. The region is home to Sweetgum, Red Maple, Scarlet Oak, Hickory, and Sugar Maple trees, among others.
- Get Crafty at a Local Art Fair
If you’re seeking a way to spend an afternoon in town this fall, turn to one of the region’s acclaimed craft fairs. The Pigeon Forge Rotary Club Craft Fair, from September 26 to October 24, is a free exhibition of the work of East Tennessee’s best artisans. Hosted at Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge, the 40th annual iteration of this craft fair focuses on woodworking, handcrafted home decorations, stained glass and more. Another popular craft fair in the region is the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair. This event, running from October 8 to 25, attracts artists and musicians from around the country to fill 200 booths at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.
A Rich History:
Crafting occupies an important place in the history of Pigeon Forge. The folk art of the Smoky Mountains is among America’s best, and the region has been home to the country’s largest population of craftspeople and artisans since 1941 as part of the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community.
Did you know?
The epicenter of East Tennessee’s arts and crafts scene happens to be right here in Pigeon Forge: The Old Mill Square. The shops that comprise the area are known for expert woodworking, authentic jewelry, and other crafts.
- Make Education Enjoyable
For many families, fall rings in a return to textbooks, homework and tests – an adjustment that can be tough to make after the freewheeling fun of summer. If the kids need to bridge the gap between summer’s freedom and autumn’s more regimented schedule, consider bringing them along to Pigeon Forge for an educational-but-fun fall weekend. Attractions like Titanic Pigeon Forge, WonderWorks, and NASCAR Speedpark incorporate information and excitement, making them popular choices for adults and kids alike.
Enjoy an educational and exciting all-night stay aboard the Titanic at the Pigeon Forge museum’s 3rd annual Night at the Titanic Sleepover event. From 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. on the night of Friday, October 2, Titanic Pigeon Forge hosts an epic slumber party complete with ghost stories, a PG movie, and more. All you need is a sleeping bag and snacks!
Did you know?
While we’re on the topic of knowledge, enjoy this interesting nugget of historical information. Pigeon Forge derives its name from the Little Pigeon River, which was named after the now-extinct passenger pigeons that once inhabited the area.
Looking for additional tips on things to do in Pigeon Forge this fall? Head to the front desk at RiverStone Resort and ask one of our friendly local experts!