When Is Peak Fall Color in the Smokies?

Fall colors appear first at the highest elevations and work their way down over a 5-6 week season. So you should be able to find beautiful color no matter when you visit in the fall.

Not only do the Smoky Mountains explode with beautiful color in the fall, the small town of Bryson City itself puts on a festive fall show, too!

Colorful fall flowers and scarecrows decorate the streets mixing with the beautiful fall foliage changes. There are hayrides, a pumpkin patch and a corn maze, ghost stories and legends, harvest festivals, live music, and scenic roads and train rides to view the leaves.

Here's what you can expect ...

Events & Festivals

Daily ranger led programs in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (October)

Farmers Market- Every Friday morning May thru October, 9 am - 1 pm on Island Street in Bryson City

Free Concerts on Saturday nights, May thru October, 7-9 pm at Riverfront Park in Bryson City.

September 15 - October 31- Solar Eclipse Corn Maze, Hayrides & Pumpkin Patch daily at Darnell Farms. Haunted Corn Maze the week of Halloween.

September 23 - Railroad Reserve dinner train with wine pairings. All adult-first class car.

September 22-24 - Guest Appreciation Festival at Nantahala Outdoor Center

September 30 - Mountain Heritage Day at Western Carolina University

October: Thurs, Fri & Sat - Spooky Tales at the Storytelling Center. 8 pm, across the parking lot from the train depot.

October 3-7 - Cherokee Indian Fair

October 6-15 - Smoky Mountain Arts Festival at the Train Depot.

October 6-8 - Smoky Mountains Hook, Hackle & Rod Show with demonstration sessions. 9-5 pm at Swain Rec Center.

October 7 - Smoky Mountain Fly Fishing Festival. 9 am - 5 pm at the Train Depot.

October 7- Dillsboro's ColorFest arts and crafts

October 7 & 21 - Old-time music jam at Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 1-3 pm.

October 7-8 - Fall Festival at John C. Campbell Folk School, Hayesville.

October 13-14 - The Inspirations Fall Color Gospel Festival, 7 pm nightly

October 20-21 Cruise the Smokies Fall Rod Run, Cherokee, 9 am - 5 pm.

October 20-22 - Stecoah Harvest Festival, crafts, food, music and country fair.

October 21 - Bryson City Chili Cook Off featuring live music, treats, crafts and chili from 11 am - 4 pm $5 ticket to sample chili and vote for Best in Show).

October 21 - Plow Day & Harvest Festival. 10 am - 11 pm at Darnell Farms. Music, hayrides, pumpkin patch, old-time farming demonstrations.

October 22 - Southeastern Downriver Championship. 8 mile course on the Nantahala River

October 28 - NOCtoberFest Great Pumpkin Pursuit on the Nantahala River

October 31 - Downtown Trick or Treat. 4 - 7 pm safe trick or treating with merchants on Everett Street in Downtown Bryson City (street is closed to vehicles).

November 4-5 - Rumble in the Rhododendron Fly Fishing Tournament

November 4 - WNC Pottery Festival


Special Train Rides

Leave the driving to the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad on the special "Leaf-Looker" excursions to the Nantahala Gorge. Daily. (Named one of the 10 Best Foliage Train Rides in America by SmarterTravel.com.)

Peanuts Pumpkin Patch Express - Friday-Sunday in October. Enjoy the ride, play games, pick out your own pumpkin & meet Charlie Brown, Lucy & Snoopy.

'Shine & Dine' all adult first class moonshine car featuring Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon Spirits. Nantahala River excursions.

More Ways to Enjoy Autumn

Biking trails - ride through a canopy of color

Easy hikes to waterfalls in the area

Soar above the trees on a zip line

Scenic drives on the Blue Ridge Parkway or through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or on "The Dragon."