Looking to plan a trip to see the leaves change in the Great Smoky Mountains? Here are four reasons why scenic Blount County, Tennessee is the place to be. (For more information about fall in the Smokies, be sure to check out A Guide to Autumn Leaves in East Tennessee)
1. Immerse Yourself in the Fall Colors at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
It's easy to love Cades Cove year-round. Sitting deep in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, an 11-mile, one-way, scenic loop road circles this broad valley. All around you stand the Southern Appalachian Mountains. In the fall months, as the leaves turn from green to red and yellow and brown and the mountainsides and hollows become a vibrant smattering of bright colors, you'll have to try not to get lost in the beauty of it all.
(Flyfishing in Blount County, part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park)
Cades Cove is accessible by entering the Great Smoky Mountain National Park via Townsend, Tennessee. From there, follow the signs.
2. You Can Stay In A Treehouse At The Butterfly Gap Retreat
(Credit: Laura Lockwood)
"There is no place I'd rather be than in Blount County in the fall," says Laura Lockwood, who, along with her family, own and operate this mountain retreat bed and breakfast.
Each one of Butterfly Gap Retreat's guesthouses is more unique than the last, but none among them can rival the treehouse. What could be better for fall than literally staying in the trees?
"This is a time when our community flourishes," Lockwood explains. "It makes us so proud to live here and show off just how amazing our home is. This is absolutely the most magical place to be in the fall."
Butterfly Gap Retreat is located at 4366 Butterfly Gap Road, Maryville, TN 37803. For reservations, visit them by visiting their website or calling 865-984-6021.
3. Fall is Festival Season
Fall festivals are ubiquitous in the Southern Appalachian Mountains and Blount County is no exception.
Grain & Grits is "a festival of Southern spirits and gourmet food. Legendary distillers throughout Tennessee will be in attendance, including Jack Daniels - explained Wes Boling, of the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority. Foodies and whiskey enthusiasts won't want to miss this one-of-a-kind festival in Townsend.
4. Drive the Mountaintops Along the Foothills Parkway
In Cades Cove, you get to view the fall foliage from the valley below. Up on the Foothills Parkway, you have the chance to see them from above. Running parallel with the park, the vistas from this National Parkway are specifically designed to be the best in Blount County. Off to the south and east sits the mountains of the national park itself, paling off into the immense distance. To the north and west, you see the great Tennessee Valley stretch out to the horizon. If time allows, don't hesitate to watch the sunset from one of the road's many stops.
To access the Foothills Parkway, take US-321 between Maryville and Townsend. Follow the signs.