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, corn stalks and haybales 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.

Check out some great suggestions about where to look for fall color and some great outdoor activities this season.

Here's what you can expect ...

Events & Festivals

Events are in Bryson City/Swain County unless otherwise noted. Events are subject to change. For detailed information, visit event websites.

Daily ranger led programs in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (October). 828-497-1904.

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

September 20 - October 31- Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch daily at Darnell Farms. Hayrides, Thursday - Sunday. Haunted Corn Maze the week of Halloween.


September 22 - "Uncorked" event train food with wine pairings. All adult-first class car.

September 22 - Swain County Agricultural Fair. Swain County Event Park, 10 am - 10 pm. Demos, crafts, food, live music and judging of vegetables, eggs, flowers & animals.

September 22 - Octoberfest at Nantahala Brewing. Traditional German dishes and fun family games.

September 29 - Mountain Heritage Day at Western Carolina University, Cullowhee.

September 28-30 - Guest Appreciation Festival at Nantahala Outdoor Center.

October: Fridays thru Sundays - Peanuts Pumpkin Patch Express Train Event. Ride to pumpkin patch, meet Peanuts charactures, enjoy activities and music, pick your own pumpkin.

October: Fridays & Saturdays - Spooky Tales at the Storytelling Center. 8 pm, around the fire pit in the train depot area.

October: Fridays & Saturdays - Cherokee Bonfire & Storytelling, 5-7 pm. Islands Park in Cherokee.

October 2-6 - Cherokee Indian Fair

October 5-14 - Smoky Mountain Arts Festival under the big tent at the train depot.

October 6 - ColorFest arts and crafts show, Dillsboro.

October 6 & 20 - Old-time music jam at Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 1-3 pm. (Cherokee)

October 6-7 - Fall Festival at John C. Campbell Folk School, Hayesville.

October 13 - Smoky Mountain Fly Fishing Festival. 9 am - 5 pm at the Warehouse at Nantahala Brewing.

October 13-14 & 20-21 - The Inspirations Fall Color Gospel Festival, 2 pm daily. Swain County Event Park.

October 19-20 Cruise the Smokies Fall Rod Run, Cherokee, 9 am - 5 pm.

October 19-20 - Stecoah Harvest Festival, crafts, food, music and country fair, Stecoah.

October 20 - Southeastern Downriver Championship. 8 mile course on the Nantahala River.

October 26-27 - Witch's Brew Release & Halloween Party, Nantahala Brewing Co. Live music.

October 27 - NOCtoberFest Great Pumpkin Pursuit, games and music 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 3 - WNC Pottery Festival, Dillsboro.

November 3-4 - Rumble in the Rhododendron Fly Fishing Tournament, Cherokee.

November 10 - Heritage Arts Festival, 10 am - 4 pm. SW Community College/Swain Center.

Swain-Fall-Family

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 tastings of flavored moonshine. Moonshine-infused cocktails available for purchase. 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."