Gatlinburg Sky Trail overlooking Smoky Mountains

Ahh, fall is in the air! It’s hard to match the freshness of crisp leaves combined with the cooler weather. Taking time to travel during the fall season ensures you and your loved ones will go home with renewed inspiration and joy as you proceed through the year. Plan a fall vacation to the Smokies, and you won’t be disappointed!

The Great Smoky Mountains region offers some of the most beautiful fall scenery in the United States. Gorgeous views of the changing leaves combine with the Smokies’ unique environment, providing endless moments to connect with nature and make lasting memories with outdoor activities galore.

Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville are three adorable small towns nestled near the mountains, each with their particular flavor of culture and history. These thriving towns are lovely places to visit during the autumn, and you can easily plan a weekend or a weeklong trip to take in the changing leaves, refreshing mountain air, and fun fall activities for all ages.

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park's suspension bridge over autumn leaves

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park

For the thrill-seeker in you, Gatlinburg SkyLift Park should be considered a “must-visit” in the Smokies! Attractions include the SkyLift and the SkyDeck – both of which provide exhilarating experiences for the whole family. A Gatlinburg SkyLift Park experience will captivate you and your loved ones with unbeatable mountain views.

Experience some of the best views of the Smokies from the SkyLift or SkyDeck. This is an incredibly enjoyable fall activity, as you can take in the leaves’ changing colors from a bird’s-eye view. The SkyLift is the first four-season scenic chairlift experience in the South, taking you up five hundred vertical feet to the top of Crockett Mountain. It’s a perfect place for an Instagram-worthy photo!

Take a walk on the SkyBridge, the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America, and feel the rush of the crisp fall air as you enjoy the panoramic views of these beautiful mountains. In the middle of the SkyBridge, walk across clear glass panels (if you dare!) to see and feel a truly unbeatable feeling of levitation over the lush valley below. 

After you’re done with these fun and adventurous fall activities, take some time and relax on the SkyDeck. Sunset is a particularly beautiful time here, and there are many opportunities for gorgeous photos as you take in the majesty of the mountains.

Zipline over trees

Wahoo Ziplines

After you’ve experienced the inspiring views of Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, continue the adventure at Wahoo Ziplines. There’s nothing quite like the experience of flight to change the way you look at the world. Wahoo Ziplines offers the feeling of flight to adventure seekers! As you strap into their exhilarating zip line, you will feel an adrenaline rush as you take off over a beautiful, vibrant valley. 

America’s top-rated zipline since 2008, Sevierville’s Wahoo Ziplines ensures safety and security with each ride. They cater to first-time flyers and experienced zip line enthusiasts, and offer their world-class zip line experiences at a very affordable price. Adults and kids age 5 and older can access the life-changing experience of flight at Wahoo Ziplines!

Road with fall leaves

The Jump Off Hike

So, now you have seen the Smokies from the air. Now, it’s time to see the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains on foot. The Jump Off Hike is one of the best hikes to experience for leaf-peeping and generally enjoying the fall weather in the mountains. 

This hike follows the “spine” of the Appalachian Mountains for about 6.5 miles, and offers views of the surrounding ranges that are perfect for viewing the changing leaves. With an elevation gain of over 1200 feet, you’re sure to see the different layers of color in sharp relief against the clear blue autumn sky.

Autumn leaves in the Smoky Mountains

Lodging For Leaf Season

Outdoor activities in the Smokies can leave even the most intrepid traveler exhausted and needing rest and rejuvenation. Book a stay at Baymont Inn & Suites On the River in Gatlinburg and enjoy great amenities and gorgeous Little Pigeon River views. All rooms include private balconies, flat-screen TVs, and comfortable furnishings.

You can select from a wide range of room types at Baymont Inn & Suites on the River. They also offer rooms with a king-sized bed and a fireplace or a Jacuzzi – perfect for relaxation! Baymont Inn & Suites is also known for its free hot breakfast, which is the ideal start to a day of adventurous fall outdoor activities in the Smokies. 

If you’re traveling with your family, finding a central location from which you can easily access your calendar’s fun fall activities is a top consideration. Howard Johnson Pigeon Forge provides fantastic amenities in the heart of the bustling town of Pigeon Forge, close to Tanger Outlets, the Comedy Barn, beautiful hiking trails, and other adventurous outdoor fall activities.

Dollywood, the top attraction in Pigeon Forge, is only a short drive from your room if you stay at Howard Johnson Pigeon Forge. It also offers an indoor pool, as well as an outdoor pool, complete with water slides! Howard Johnson is also beloved for its free hot breakfast each morning, making this one of the top places to stay for families visiting the Smokies. 

Autumn can be one of the most romantic times of the year to travel. If you’re planning a trip to the gorgeous Smoky Mountains region with a loved one, make sure to choose a lodging option that keeps the romance going throughout your stay. The Inn on the River in Pigeon Forge is a favorite of travelers due to its top-quality amenities and beautiful location on the Little Pigeon River.

This quaint Inn provides an outdoor pool, an indoor pool with a large hot tub, a riverside walkway, and a covered patio area. The Riverside area is a fantastic place to enjoy the crisp fall air and changing foliage, offering an outdoor fire pit and rocking chairs, perfect for a peaceful evening. 

The Inn on the River is within walking distance to many restaurants and is situated on the main Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Even if you’re planning a more quiet and relaxing getaway, a stay at The Inn on the River will ensure that there’s no shortage of fall activities to enjoy. You can hike on a gorgeous trail in the Smokies in the morning, sit by the Little Pigeon River in the afternoon, and walk to a delicious dinner all in the same day. 


The Great Smoky Mountain region offers such a wide range of fun and exciting fall activities, whether you are looking for outdoor adventure or a chance to let go and unwind. If you’re feeling the first touches of cabin fever, head to Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville. Take in the refreshing fall air, the changing leaves, and the inspiring vistas, and move into this new season with a renewed sense of joy.

Content on this page is subject to change. Please contact the locations mentioned to see if promotions, hours, pricing, etc. are still valid.

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller is a native Tennessean who currently resides in Asheville, North Carolina. She loves spending time in the great outdoors, such as camping, hiking, and mountain biking. She also enjoys exploring all that the Smoky Mountains have to offer.

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