Is this year you finally make that pilgrimage to the Great Smoky Mountains for fall leaf-peeping season? This is one of the most visually stunning times of year for the ancient mountain range, which stretches through Tennessee and North Carolina.

From mid-September to mid-November, the mountain slopes and hidden valleys explode in a dizzying array of color that seems too brilliant to be natural, from royal purple to crimson red to butter yellow. Every week brings a new wave of color, as the cold air creeps downward from the heights and different trees react to the change in weather.

The trees are also affected by the prevailing weather conditions—drought, warm weather, or especially rainy weather can all affect their color-changing schedule. Keep an eye on a fall foliage calendar as your trip dates grow near to find out just where the magic is happening, like this one from

Use our infographic as a starting point to plan your leaf-peeping excursion, helping you choose the right destinations and viewing locations for the time you’ll be visiting the Smoky Mountains. Will you drive or will you hike? Will you peer down at the bright valleys from leafless mountaintops, or gaze up through green at crimson ridges?

No matter what you choose, we wish you a very happy autumn as you take in nature’s beauty!

Looking for a comfortable home away from home while you chase autumn’s colors through the mountains? Visit our Destinations tab to learn more about Gatlinburg Town Square By Exploria Resorts, where you can enjoy family-size villas in a creek-side location just a short walk from Gatlinburg’s attractions.

Tips for Great Leaf-Peeping in the Smoky Mountains

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