Fall In the Smoky Mountains: A Magical Season
by Bennie McCann © 2007, All Rights Reserved

There's something about fall that adds a bit of excitement to the air. Maybe it's because school has begun. It might be the reduction in sweltering summer temperatures. Perhaps it's the thrill of football season or it could be the onset of holidays including Halloween and Thanksgiving. While you're marking your calendar and making plans for what to do this fall, don’t forget to include a visit to the Smoky Mountains. It’s the perfect place to experience the magical change of seasons.

We all know that during fall the leaves change colors, but if you haven’t seen the colors of fall in the Smoky Mountains, you have missed a masterpiece of nature. While the official dates for the fall season are September 23rd through December 21st, the peak time for leaves to change is unpredictable because there are so many factors involved. According to the National Park Service, “At higher elevations, where the climate is similar to New England’s, color displays start as early as mid-September. The fall color display usually reaches peak at mid- and lower elevations between mid-October and early November. This is the park’s most spectacular display.” It's during this time that you'll find brilliant shades of deep burgundy, dazzling orange, sparkling gold and emerald green shimmering in the sunlight. These magnificent colors turn the Smoky Mountains into a priceless work of art.

There are numerous ways to experience this beauty. Traveling by car is the most popular choice because it allows for a great deal of freedom. Hundreds of people jump into their vehicles to spend the day enjoying the breathtaking colors of autumn. Bring a picnic lunch, park the car and savor your meal surrounded by the glorious landscape. Prefer walking? These mountains offer more than 800 miles of trails to explore laced with waterfalls, historic buildings and other surprises along tranquil paths. See wildlife when you bike the 11 miles of Cades Cove Loop Road or go horseback riding across 550 miles of trails. Whatever method you like, there's definitely something for everyone.

With a spectacular display of color all around, it's hard to imagine anything more beautiful. However, if you've ever seen the reflection of fall colors in a glistening stream you'll know that the Smokies repeatedly outdo themselves. That's probably why fishing is another popular attraction in the Smoky Mountains.

Whether you're a novice or have years of experience, you'll enjoy over 2000 miles of streams filled with brook, rainbow and brown trout, as well as smallmouth and rock bass. While fishing is permitted year round, the use of live bait or food is not allowed. You may only use artificial flies or lures with a single hook. Since the park lies across the Tennessee/North Carolina border, a permit or license from either state is required.

The early fall brings daytime high temperatures in the 70s and 80s, with dropping highs in the 50s to 60s at season's end. This makes fall an opportune time to take advantage of the great outdoors. If you can only get away for a day, it will be a day well spent. Obviously, longer stays afford more time for fun, adventure and relaxation. With numerous cabins nearby for rent, you can enjoy your evenings nestled in the beauty and tranquility of the Smoky Mountains. Whether it will be for one day or several, make plans now to see the magic of the fall colors unfold right before your eyes.

Bennie McCann is Reservations Manager of Volunteer Cabin Rentals specializing in Cabins in Wears Valley, TN near the national park. Visit the main website to book cabins for weddings, vacations, reunions and other special events.