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Fall Colors in Tennessee State Parks

While many people enjoy fall colors in the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee State Parks offer many spectacular spots to enjoy fall colors. If you want to enjoy fall colors in Tennessee this year, here are a few tips for where and when to travel to these beautiful destinations:

When should you plan to travel?

Figuring out when the fall colors will peak is tricky. Weather, moisture levels, and other factors determine the timing and the intensity of the colors. 

As a general rule, leaves in East Tennessee begin to change color in early October and peak around the third week of the month. Deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves annually) are usually bare by Thanksgiving. In Middle and West Tennessee, color change begins in mid-October and peaks by Halloween.

Fall at Cumberland Mountain

So where is the best place you can go to see these colors change?

We asked park staff for some of their favorite places to view the fall colors and the parks in the list below are among some of the best places to see the leaves change (Photo: Cumberland Mountain).

Here's our "Parks' Picks", a baker's dozen of State Parks where you will get a great view of the leaves changing color:

East Tennessee
Cumberland Plateau
Middle Tennessee
West Tennessee

Check out inn and cabin reservation options for all our Tennessee State Parks.

Color Blind Viewers

Do you or someone you know suffer from color blindness? The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Tennessee State Parks have partnered to install “color blind” viewfinders at several state park locations across the state. See the full list of parks and the locations of the viewers

Planning Tips

If you're making plans to hunt for leaves, we have a few things to consider to make your planning easier:

1. Plan a mid-week trip

As a general rule, you will experience smaller crowds in our parks if you visit during a weekday. This is especially true during busy seasons like October. 

2. Find other activities at parks that you'll enjoy

What's better than a beautiful view of the changing leaves? Enjoying that view while doing something you love! Maybe it's hiking to a waterfall at Fall Creek Falls or South Cumberland, or hitting the mountain bike trails at Roan Mountain or Cumberland Mountain. Check out the Find a Park page for a map of the state and filters that help you find the best park to meet your needs.

3. Take part in events while at the park

We offer hundreds of events every month to connect you with the outdoors and foster a love for adventure in guests of all ages. Every park has an event calendar on their homepage. You can also find a full list of events across all of our parks on our main calendar