Best fall colors in November - Smoky Mountain National Park
My bestie once told me that she never thought much of the Fall season but that changed completely once she saw the Fall colors in all their glory. I have to agree. As beautiful as it is to smell the new-born fresh flowers in spring, it is equally gorgeous to watch the old leaves make way for the new in the Fall with such grace that only Nature can exhibit. Standing amidst dazzling shades of yellows, oranges and reds and watching a colorful leaf fall from a tall tree slowly, swaying gracefully with the wind, and making a soft landing onto the plush carpet of brightly hued leaves on the ground is one of the most romantic experiences. Experiencing Fall colors is like living in a beautiful dream.
While there are several places to see the Fall Foliage, Smoky Mountain National Park is a popular one. It draws more than ten million visitors annually - about twice the number of the second most popular National Park. Its location in the lovely town of Gatlinburg is a huge plus, if you ask me. Which means, this place gets super crowded in October which is when the Fall colors peak in this region. We happened to visit this place in the second weekend of November and were apprehensive of missing the Fall colors, as the trees tend to turn bare within a few days after the fall colors reach their peak. While the trees did shed their leaves in the higher elevations, there was a brilliant display of colors in the lower elevations. And hold your breath, there were no crowds. I can't tell you if it was the best time to go as it wasn't a lot of fun watching the bare trees in the higher elevations and from the highest point in the Park i.e. Clingman's Dome. However, I believe we were able to enjoy a lot more in the lower elevations without having to wait for hours in the traffic, which we heard is the case during most of October.
As we entered the Park, we drove along the scenic Highway 441 and were treated to these lovely views at the lower elevations.
As we drove along to the higher elevations, the trees turned bare. We went to the observation point at Clingmans dome which offers sweeping views of the Park on a clear day. We then drove back and took the scenic road to Cades Cove. We did not see a lot of Fall colors in the Cades Cove valley, but saw some of the most vibrant colors on the way. We saw some wildlife as we drove along the Cades Cove Loop and waited at one of the stops where the hungry fox was eyeing a fawn.
The next morning, we did the Laurel Falls hike and loved it, not for the Falls, but for this kaleidoscope of colors along the trail.
There were a couple of spots both along Highway 441 and on the way to Cades Cove, where you can see the Smoky Mountains covered in layers of colors where both my husband and I exclaimed, "This is exactly what we see in the postcards, on screen savers and whenever they write about Fall Colors." Alas, my iPhone6 has its limitations though my eyes captured them forever.
Our friends suggested the Abrams Falls hike in Cades Cove, but we decided to spend our evening with moonshine tasting (13 tiny samplers each of some creative blends) and outdoor music in the lovely mountain town of Gatlinburg.
|Highly recommend their 'Moonshine Tasting' ;)
You can't plan a better evening, if you ask me ;)