As I write this, we're experiencing warm fall weather, but it's fall weather nonetheless. The air is as dry as what I've experienced while visiting out West, and it feels amazing. I'm just not sure--and never have been--what effect dry weather has on fall foliage, but I know it does.

That, however, is no cause for concern here in western Kentucky. We are still about a month away from the time when the leaves really start to explode with color. But if you're like me, you don't mind hitting the road to go find it when the time comes. And maybe you plan vacations in certain parts of the country that will allow the foliage to be the perfect backdrop for your getaway.

Fall Foliage in the Smokies

Well, I doubt there's a much better place to seek such beauty out than East Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains.

The Best Locations for Fall Foliage Viewing in the Smokies

Simply breathtaking, right? Good grief. But how about we zero in on some SPECIFIC locations that come highly recommended:

But wait, boys and girls, we are hardly finished. It's great--and kind of important--to know WHERE to go, but we are talking about leaves changing color, and that usually amounts to a certain dosage of guesswork. Well, lookie here, we have a MAP, and not just any old map. It's one that tells us WHEN we can expect the foliage in the Smokies to be at its most gorgeous.

A Handy Tool to Help You Know When View Fall Foliage in the Smokies

A huge "thank you" to for this invaluable tool that shows enthusiasts when would be the best time to head to East Tennessee and soak it all in. Here's what it looks like right now, complete with the timeline:

Now if clicked that link--I hope you did--you know that you drag that cursor to the right to find the best time for fall colors in the Smokies...and anywhere else in the U.S. for that matter. That's late September, and it looks like the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area has a ways to go, so lets find out how far.

Well, there you go. It looks like your best bet is the week of October 16th. I did the timeline slide on the website and once you get past October 23rd, you get past the peak.

Listen, ANYTIME of the year is a great time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We all know that. But if fall beauty is your game, you now have your window.


RANKED: Here are the most popular national parks

To determine the most popular national parks in the United States, Stacker compiled data from the National Park Service on the number of recreational visits each site had in 2020. Keep reading to discover the 50 most popular national parks in the United States, in reverse order from #50 to #1. And be sure to check with individuals parks before you visit to find out about ongoing, pandemic-related safety precautions at

LOOK: Stunning vintage photos capture the beauty of America's national parks

Today these parks are located throughout the country in 25 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The land encompassing them was either purchased or donated, though much of it had been inhabited by native people for thousands of years before the founding of the United States. These areas are protected and revered as educational resources about the natural world, and as spaces for exploration.

Keep scrolling for 50 vintage photos that show the beauty of America's national parks.

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