When it comes to Fall, the best place to see Fall Foliage is Tennessee – tied with Virginia. Some people think it’s New England but once you consider the colors plus the weather, Tennessee is where it’s at for the best place to see Fall foliage.
And if you’re going to take a trip to see the best foliage in the country, then you definitely want to know the best places and ways to experience it to the fullest.
The 21 Best Places to See the Fall Foliage in Tennessee
The Cherohala Skyway is venture 30+ years in the making that features 18 miles in North Carolina between the Cherokee National Forest and the Nantahala National Forest and an additional 23 miles in the back country of Tennessee. One of the biggest perks – and things to plan for – is that there is little sign of civilization along the route for perfectly uninterrupted views.
Image courtesy of Gorilla Girl on Flickr.
The Whitestone Country Inn
Sitting on over 360 perfectly manicured acres that overlook a waterfowl refuge on Watts Bar Lake, the Whitestone Country Inn offers 8 miles of well-kept trails with amazing views. One trail includes a marriage walk which will encourage and strengthen your marriage. Waterfront. Foliage. Trails. Plus stronger marriage. Sounds picture perfect.
Cherokee National Forest
The Cherokee National Forest is 650,000 acres divided into a northern and southern section and joins up other great national forests in Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina.
Image courtesy of Cherokee National Forest Facebook Group.
Roan Mountain sits among 2000 acres of hard wood forest along the Doe River and has about 12 miles of hiking trails for every one – from easy to very strenuous.
Image courtesy of the TN State Parks.
Radnor Lake State Park
Radnor Lake State Park is perfectly nestled in an urban area while being completely separate, rich with wildlife and picturesque views. The 6 miles of trails are only for hiking and photography and are completely accessible via wheelchair.
Image courtesy of the TN State Parks.
River Gorge Explorer
River Gorge Explorer is a great way to experience the foliage along the Chattanooga River. Each trip is about two hours and is guided by a naturalist from the Tennessee Aquarium.
Image courtesy of Tennessee Aquarium.
Meeman-Shelby State Park
Meeman-Shelby State Park outside of Memphis and along the Mississippi River offers more than 20 miles for hiking, horseback riding, that overlooks Poplar Lake.
Image Courtesy of TN State Parks.
Cataloochee Valley is a part of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park system, nestled in a lovely valley surrounded by historic buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Image courtesy of the Cataloochee Valley Facebook Page
Rock City is one of the natural treasures of Chattanooga and offers spectacular views of the surrounding area. From the top of Lookout Mountain enjoy the rock formations and extensive gardens plus a view of 7 states.
Image Courtesy of See Rock City.
Big South Fork National River
The Big South Fork River and Recreation Area lies right along the TN and KY border with more than 170 miles of hiking trails that go across cliffs, rock shelters, gorges, and waterfalls.
Image Courtesy of Big South Fork National Park Facebook Page
Clingmans Dome is one of the most popular hikes in the Smokies – and for good reason. Because of the nature of the path up to the top, you’ll have full panoramic views of the gorgeous colors that will surround.
Image Courtesy Clingmans Dome Facebook Page
Newfound Gap Road
The Newfound Gap Road offers an incredible foliage palette as you drive along this road which is about a mile high. Foliage and weather patterns change here earlier than lower elevations. This is a great road trip, so be sure to get out early if you want to avoid traffic.
Image Courtesy of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park Facebook Page
Natchez Trace Parkway
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444 mile, two-lane road running from Bellevue, TN to Natchez, Miss and is perfect for driving, biking, hiking and exploring.
Image Courtesy of Natchez Trace Parkway Facebook Page
Frozen Head Park
Frozen Head State Park features some of the tallest peaks in the Cumberland Mountain chain. Overlooks can be followed for miles along the top of the bluffline. These hikes can be difficult at times and should not be taken lightly.
Image Courtesy of TN State Parks Facebook Page
Cades Cove lays in a Valley in the Smokies and has great foliage even late into the season. You can drive the 11 mile loop, get out and hike any of the numerous trails that start there, and enjoy the many historic buildings in the area as well as great wildlife viewing.
Image Courtesy of Experience Cades Cove Facebook Page
The Water and Trails near Watts Bar Lake
Watts Bar Lake offers acres upon acres of waterfront foliage that is gorgeous, whether you’re on the water, on a trail, or driving in the hills.
Three Rivers Rambler
The Three Rivers Rambler (3RR) is a steam engine running tourist runs out of the heart of Knoxville. With the hills, rivers, and plenty of water front, you’ll see gorgeous fall colors.
Image Courtesy of Three Rivers Rambler Facebook Page
Tennessee Valley Railroad
The Tennessee Valley Railroad (TVRR) runs out of Chattanooga and Etowah, TN. To get a glimpse at peak foliage in the Cherokee National Forest, try the Hiwassee River Rail.
Image Courtesy of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum Facebook Page
Tennessee Central Railway Museum
The Tennessee Central Railway Museum (TCRM) travels from Nashville to Lebanon, Watertown, and Cookeville. A diesel-powered engine from the 50’s will have you traveling in style. For an extra special experience, get your seats in the former Northern Pacific Railway Dome car.
Image Courtesy of the Tennessee Central Railway Museum Facebook Page
Hot Air Balloon Ride in the Smoky Mountains
A Hot Air Balloon Ride from Wonders of Flight will give you a totally unique view of the Smokies – from the sky! You’ll be able to look down on the rolling and gorgeous foliage in a balloon floating across the sky.
Image Courtesy of Wonders of Flight Facebook Page
Tail of the Dragon
Tail of the Dragon is not for easily car sick with 318 curves in 11 miles. Bordering on both the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the Cherokee National Forest it is a popular destination for motorcyclists and sports car enthusiasts. You’ll find the Tail of the Dragon marked on your map as US 129.
Image Courtesy NCDOT