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 - October - 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 Fly Tyers Retreat 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 Peanuts, 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."