Visiting the mountains of East Tennessee will almost always take your breath away. Few people would argue that fall is the most spectacular time to visit. It’s no secret that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the number one visited park in the United States. If you are considering a fall foliage trip to view autumn color in East Tennessee this list will get you on your way.
#1 Top Fall foliage driving tours in East Tennessee
This is part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As if getting to the cove isn’t incredible enough there is plenty to see inside the area known as Cades Cove.
The star attraction of Cades Cove is an 11 mile one way loop. Along this road, there are several historic buildings and barns. View historic churches and church cemeteries and gaze across the fields.
Visitors can take the time to hike along the many trails. The loop itself is open to bicycles. There are many photo opportunities and small parking lots. While you are there be sure to watch for deer, bears and other wildlife. Keep your camera at the ready. You will want it.
Campgrounds and picnic areas are just outside the loop entrance. Visitors are best served by bringing along a picnic lunch. Expect to spend a full day or stay overnight.
#2 Top Fall foliage driving tours in East Tennessee
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
This is a 5 mile one way loop on the outskirts of downtown Gatlinburg. Visitors who like to hike can trek to the Grotto Falls waterfall. It’s a little over a mile off the motor trail. This trail is perfect for those who want to be near shopping but still take time to see the mountains. Be advised that this is a narrow drive so trucks and RVs are prohibited.
Visitors may want to bring a picnic lunch with them. Many will choose to eat in Gatlinburg before taking the drive. Unless you plan to hike, this tour will take around two hours or less.
#3 Top Fall foliage driving tours in East Tennessee
This beautiful drive is one of the National Scenic By-ways. Its opening in 1996 makes it one of the newer drives in the country. The skyway runs through East Tennessee and into Asheville, North Carolina. Most of this 50 mile drive takes you through areas that are remote and pristine. Stopping at the welcome center in Telico Plains, Tennessee is a must.
Visitors may bring a picnic lunch or dine at one of the quaint restaurants on the drive. There are many places to photograph and trails to hike. Allow a full day for this drive at minimum. More time will be needed if you want to hike. There are cabins, hotels, inns and campgrounds along the skyway.