Best Scenic Drives in the Smoky Mountains to View Fall Colors

A scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains is one of the best way to experience the amazing fall colors. There are a number of scenic drives in the Great Smoky Mountains that offer spectacular views of the changing fall colors. Colors begin to change in higher elevation areas first, typically late September or early October. The fall colors peak starting around mid-October and continue through early November in lower elevation areas.

Explore some of the best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains to view fall colors on your next visit to Pigeon Forge.

Cades Cove Loop Road

Cades Cove - Best Scenic Drives in Smoky Mountains National Park

About an hour’s drive from Pigeon Forge is one of the park’s most popular areas, Cades Cove. “The Loop” in Cades Cove is an 11-mile one-way scenic loop road, and offers beautiful views as well as opportunities to see wildlife. From deer to coyotes, and wild turkeys to bears, you can find them all in the Cove.  You’ll also find several historic structures to explore along the way.

Visitor Tip: The Cades Cove Loop Road is closed to motor vehicles for the benefit of foot and bicycle traffic from sunrise until 10am every Saturday and Wednesday morning from mid-May to late September.

Getting There: Located about 27 miles from Gatlinburg, off Laurel Creek Road.


Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Roaring Fork Trail Pigeon Forge, TN

For wildflower viewing and historic buildings, you’ll want to check out Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This 5.5-mile one-way loop is just a short drive from Pigeon Forge. And there are several overlooks throughout the park where motorists can pull over and take in the magnificent views of the fall colors without ever having to leave the car. If it’s waterfalls you’re chasing, trailheads for both Grotto Falls and Rainbow Falls can be accessed from the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

Please note that Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is closed during the winter.

Getting There: Turn at Stoplight #8 off the Parkway in Downtown Gatlinburg onto Historic Nature Trail-Airport Rd.


Foothills Parkway

Fall Colors on Foothills Parkway - Best Scenic Drives in Smoky Mountains National Park

Drive or bike along the Foothills Parkway for some of the most breathtaking views the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has to offer. The final section of the 16-mile stretch of roadway between Walland, Tennessee and Wears Valley, Tennessee was recently completed and opened to the public, and it was certainly worth the wait! Motorists can now admire the fall colors of the Smoky Mountains on this beautiful 33-mile scenic drive from Chilhowee Lake to Sevier County.

Getting There: Most visitors to the Foothills Parkway enter at the north end from US-321 in Walland, Tennessee, a small town located between Maryville and Townsend.


Autumn is a magical time in the Smokies. Soak up the vibrant fall colors from the comforts of your own vehicle on one of these scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains. Check out even more fun things to do during fall in Pigeon Forge.


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