Everyone loves fall. The canopy turns intense shades of yellow and red and orange and then they snap and drop to the ground below. But East Tennessee, impounded by the Cumberland Plateau to the north and west and the spine of the Southern Appalachians to the south and east, may be one of the most beautiful autumns in the world. Don't believe us? Here are five reasons that might change your mind.
Trying to hit peak leaf season? Check out Tennessee Vacation's A Guide to Autumn Leaves in East Tennessee.
It'd be hard to claim that one road in Southern Appalachia was more scenic than another. But if we were having that debate, the Cherohala Skyway, connecting Tellico Plains, Tennessee with Robbinsville, North Carolina, would be a shoo-in finalist.
The Foothills Parkway + Look Rock
(Chilhowee Overlook, credit: Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association)
Another sky-high, mountain-ridge, scenic byway connects Walland with Chilhowee Lake in Blount County, crowned by an observation tower sticking into the sky, aptly named Look Rock. This route follows along the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, and offers expansive vistas of the park, lying due south and due east.
Undoubtedly the most popular destination in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Cades Cove Loop road offers visitors the opportunity to drive through - instead of above - the canopy, with as little modern intrusion as possible. During autumn, the Cove is open at sunrise. Arrive early and beat the crowds.
(Photo Credit: Chuck Sutherland)
Higher than any other location in the entire Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Clingman's Dome observation tower offers views that can hardly be challenged anywhere east of the Mississippi River. At a whopping 6,643 ft. above sea level, you are higher than most trees can physically grow, so the foliage change will literally be beneath your feet.