Best Scenic Drives In The Smoky Mountains To View Fall Leaves

blue ridge pkwy drive in the fall

A scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains is one of the best way to experience the amazing fall colors. There are numerous scenic drives in the Great Smoky Mountains that offer amazing views of the changing fall leaves. Colors begin to change in higher elevation areas first, typically late September or early October. The fall colors peak starting around mid-October and continue through early November in lower elevation areas.

Explore some of the best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains to view fall colors on your next visit to Willow Brook Lodge in Pigeon Forge.

Foothills Parkway

newfound gap drive in the fall

Drive or bike along the Foothills Parkway for some of the most breathtaking views the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has to offer. The final section of the 16-mile stretch of roadway between Walland, Tennessee and Wears Valley, Tennessee was recently completed and opened to the public, and it was certainly worth the wait! Motorists can now admire the fall colors of the Smoky Mountains on this beautiful 33-mile scenic drive from Chilhowee Lake to Sevier County.

Getting There: Most visitors to the Foothills Parkway enter at the north end from US-321 in Walland, Tennessee, a small town located between Maryville and Townsend.

Cades Cove Loop Road

About an hour’s drive from Willow Brook Lodge is one of the park’s most popular and favorite areas, Cades Cove. “The Loop” in Cades Cove is an 11-mile one-way scenic loop road, and offers beautiful views as well as opportunities to see wildlife. From deer to coyotes, and wild turkeys to bears, you can find them all in the Cove.  You’ll also find several historic structures to explore along the way.

Visitor Tip: The Cades Cove Loop Road is closed to motor vehicles for the benefit of foot and bicycle traffic from sunrise until 10am every Saturday and Wednesday morning from mid-May to late September.

Getting There: Located about 27 miles from Gatlinburg, off Laurel Creek Road.  Or, you can take a nice drive through Wear’s Valley from Pigeon Forge.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Grotto Falls

For wildflower viewing and historic buildings, you’ll want to check outRoaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This 5.5-mile one-way loop is just a short drive from Willow Brook Lodge Pigeon Forge. And there are several overlooks throughout the park where motorists can pull over and take in the magnificent views of the fall colors without ever having to leave the car. If it’s waterfalls you’re chasing, trailheads for both Grotto Falls and Rainbow Falls can be accessed from the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

Please note that Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is closed during the winter.

Getting There: Turn at Stoplight #8 off the Parkway in Downtown Gatlinburg onto Historic Nature Trail-Airport Rd.

Fall is one of the absolute best times to visit the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.  An escape to the vibrant colors and beautiful scenery is breath taking to say the least.  And the best part of it, is you don’t even have to leave your car if you prefer not too.  We hope to see you in the fall for all of the changing leaves and endless things to do at Willow Brook Lodge in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee!