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
(2017 - check back for 2018)
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
September 15 - October 31- Solar Eclipse Corn Maze, Hayrides & Pumpkin Patch daily at Darnell Farms. Haunted Corn Maze & other scary events, October 20-22 & 27-31.
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 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 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 3-5 - North American Bike Trials Series. Nantahala Outdoor Center.
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."