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 at the Train Depot in Bryson City

September 3 - November 1 - Corn Maze, Hayrides & Pumpkin Patch daily at Darnell Farms. Haunted Corn Maze the week of Halloween.

September 23-25 - Guest Appreciation Festival at Nantahala Outdoor Center

September 24 - Mountain Heritage Day at Western Carolina University

October 1 - Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon & 5K benefits Children's Cancer Foundation

October 1 - Dillsboro's ColorFest arts and crafts

October 1 & 15 - Old-time music jam at Oconaluftee Visitor Center

October 1 & 2 Fall Festival at John C. Campbell Folk School, Hayesville.

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

October 4-8 - Cherokee Indian Fair

October 7-9 - US National Whitewater Slalom Nationals on the Nantahala River

October 8 - Annual Smoky Mountain Fly Fishing Festival

October 13-15 - The Inspirations Fall Color Gospel Festival "Singing in the Smokies"

October 14-16 - Stecoah Harvest Festival

October 15 - Bryson City Chili Cook Off & Car Show featuring live music, treats, crafts and chili from 11 am - 4 pm (free, with $5 ticket to sample chili). New in 2016 - free car show (approx. 40 cars) from 10 am - 2 pm.

October 22 - NOCtoberFest Great Pumpkin Pursuit on the Nantahala River

October 28-29 - Rumble in the Rhododendron Fly Fishing Tournament

October 29 - Plow Day & Harvest Festival. 10 am - 11 pm at Darnell Farms.

October 29 - Masquerade Dinner Train / Bootlegger Edition. Adults only. Tasteful costumes required. Light buffet and delicious drink creations. 8 pm.

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 5 - WNC Pottery Festival

November 5 - Old-time music jam at Oconaluftee Visitor Center


Special Train Rides

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

Peanuts Pumpkin Patch Express - Weekends October 1 thru 30. Enjoy the ride, play games, pick out your own pumpkin & meet Peanuts, Lucy & Snoopy.

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."