Blog for Zip line Attraction in the Smoky Mountains
Located in Pigeon Forge, TN and near Gatlinburg and Sevierville.
By Ross Bodhi Ogle
Posted on October 2, 2020
We thought we'd borrow a line from Bob Dylan in introducing our topic for this week. Oh, the leaves, they are a-changin' in the Great Smoky Mountains. We're well into October, and if you've spent any time in the Smokies in the last couple of weeks, you've probably noticed the transformation. The level of impact depends on the elevation, but even in the lowest of terrain here in East Tennessee, the changes are well under way.
This week, we'll share info about what kinds of trees are turning into which colors and where you can find them. Right now, almost all areas are seeing at least some level of leaf color change. In the valleys, it's patchy, and in the foothills, the colors are nearing their peak. You'll already see peak colors at the highest elevations within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Those peak colors will cascade down to the lower elevations over the next several weeks.
By October 12, the national park areas will be starting to move past peak colors, while the foothills and lower altitudes will be hitting peak. By October 19, the highest areas will be well past peak, and leaves will begin dropping. The foothills and valleys will be just starting to move past their most vibrant colors. That should be a great time to view the colors in the more low-lying areas of the region. In any case, there should be great foliage viewing all the way through the end of the month.
In case you've ever wondered which fall colors occur in which species of trees, here are a few examples to look out for. Tulip poplar trees will turn golden yellow, while birch trees will turn bright yellow, and black cherry trees will be a basic yellow. You'll see the deepest reds in dogwoods, while sourwoods are more of a brick red, and shining sumacs are basic red. Hickories yield golden-bronze leaves, while oaks turn red, brown or russet. Maples turn a variety of colors, from the orange-reds of sugar maples to the glowing yellow of black maples to the bright scarlet or orange of red maples.
If you're interested in traveling to some of the best places to see the foliage, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is where you want to be. A few of the scenic drives and destinations to consider include Foothills Parkway (don't forget about the new segment between Walland and Wears Valley), Newfound Gap Road (and the Clingman's Dome observation tower), Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Balsam Mountain Road, Cove Creek Road and, of course, the Cades Cove Loop.
Keep in mind, however, that October is the area's second peak season of the year. People come here from all over the world to see the color show, so expect heavier traffic on national park roads and other popular scenic routes.
Another way to see the leaves if you can't visit the Smokies this month is to log onto one of the many webcams set up throughout the area. You can see what's going on in the Newfound Gap area by clicking here: https://www.air-resource.net/grsmnfgap/. Check in on Clingman's Dome by clicking here: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/air/webcams.htm?site=grcd. Or see the view from Look Rock by clicking here: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/air/webcams.htm?site=grsm.
You can also see some awesome fall foliage here at Smoky Mountain Ziplines. Our canopy tour is surrounded by lush hardwoods, and we have the most fun experience on a zipline Sevierville, TN has to offer. Come see us soon, before the colors disappear!
Next week, we'll talk more about fall colors. We'll give a brief update on the state of the foliage throughout the area, and we'll drop some science on you in terms of why leaves turn colors and why they turn the colors that they do. We'll also discuss what conditions are necessary to have a glorious fall color season in the Smokies.