Fall Color Viewing in Tennessee

October 13, 2016  |  Permalink

As Anne of Green Gables famously said, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” The chill of the autumn morning, the glow of an evening fire, and the smells of nutmeg and cinnamon characterize this time of year. Yet another thrill, especially for outdoor enthusiasts, is the changing of the leaves. Like the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, the fall foliage draws people in. It begs them to stop and absorb the spectacle.  Fortunately, Tennessee is a wonderful place to view this transformation. Let’s take a look at where, and when, you can expect to see them in Tennessee:


East Tennessee


The leaves in East Tennessee generally start changing during the first week of October and peak around the third week of the month. If you are visiting East Tennessee, you might check out…

Roan Mountain photo from James Tinch 2016

Roan Mountain State Park

Seeing the fall colors splashed across the Blue Ridge Mountains is the pinnacle experience for leaf viewing in Tennessee. Some of the best views are found driving up Highway 143 through the park, following it to Carver’s Gap- an access point for the Appalachian Trail. (Photo Credit: James Tinch)


Other Notable Parks:

Cumberland Plateau


If you want to visit a park in this region, it’s safe to assume that the second or third week of October are good times to see the changing colors.

Cumberland Mountain

This park is one of the oldest in our system, and boasts an architecture and layout that is perfect for enjoying the fall. Located just minutes off I-40 in Crossville, visitors can enjoy a meal at the park restaurant, a weekend by the lake in one of the cabins, or a round of golf at our Jack Nicklaus-designed course. The park’s best-known landmark is a stone dam/bridge that is the largest masonry structure ever built by the CCC. This bridge, and Byrd Lake in the middle of the park, make for some inspiring fall photography.



Other notable parks: 

Middle Tennessee


As you move closer to Nashville and Middle Tennessee, the color change begins in mid-October and peaks around Halloween. If you’re visiting the area, you might like

Montgomery Bell State Park

Located just 40 minutes west of Nashville, this densely wooded park is great for viewing the colors in late October. The park has hiking, golfing, lake access and mountain bike trails to support a wide variety of outdoor interests. There are campsites, cabins and inn rooms that make it an ideal destination for every type of traveler.



Other notable parks:

West Tennessee


Like Middle Tennessee, the leaves in West Tennessee start changing in mid-October and peak around Halloween.

Natchez Trace State Park

Located almost directly between Nashville and Memphis along I-40, this park sits within a 48,000-acre state forest. There are 13 miles of hiking trails within the park, and a 40-mile overnight trail that weaves through the state forest. Visitors can stay at the park inn, but there are also cabins and campsites. There is a wide range of activities to do, including fishing in the park lakes, mountain biking and horseback riding on more than 250 miles of public trails. If you’re looking for a wilderness adventure this fall, Natchez Trace is the park for you.



Other notable park:

About the author

Josh Gibson