"Leaf-Peeper Headquarters" For Great Smoky Mountains
Cooler temperatures appear to trigger two chemical reactions. One is in hardwood trees, causing colorful
landscape changes and the other is in travelers' brains, generating the urge to go see those trees.
Where To Go
One popular spot to do so is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the largest wilderness tract in the eastern
U.S. (800 square miles) and America's most visited national park (9 million people a year). It's a target for many
of those travelers, and the resort town of Pigeon Forge, Tenn., becomes "Leaf-Peeper Headquarters."
"Mother Nature puts on her show, and Pigeon Forge provides lodging, restaurants, family attractions,
shopping, theater entertainment and its own autumn decorations," said Leon Downey, the city's executive
director of tourism.
Pigeon Forge is in the valley of the Little Pigeon River, and businesses throughout town build decorative
displays with hay bales, mums, gourds, pumpkins and sunflowers for HarvestFest during the height of fall color
The Dollywood theme park celebrates the season with its National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration, and
Dollywood's steam locomotive offers special train rides into the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.
What To Watch
More than a dozen theaters, some seating up to 1,500, offer more than 20 shows for entertainment after nightfall
when a day's leaf-peeping is done. Country and gospel music are plentiful, magicians spring their surprises in two
theaters, family-friendly comedy reigns at another and there's even a murder-mystery theater.
Where To Eat
Visitors never need go hungry in Pigeon Forge. True Southern country cooking is featured at the Old Mill
Restaurant and Mama's Farmhouse, barbecue is plentiful and a new restaurant-the Partridge and Pear-offers a hint of
Christmas feasts every month of the year.
What To See
One of the most spectacular sights is visible from Pigeon Forge's central street, the Parkway, when the golden
glow of a Tennessee sunset bathes the west-facing slope of Mt. LeConte. It's a popular hiking destination;
Clingmans Dome, the highest point in Tennessee at 6,643 feet, is reachable by car.
Whether on Mt. LeConte, Clingmans Dome or any other Smoky Mountains ridge, there's a variety of color. Maples
turn red and orange; sourwoods turn pink; sumacs turn red; tulip poplars turn yellow; and beech trees turn
How To Learn More
Full visitor information is available online at MyPigeon Forge.com and toll-free at (800) 251-9100.
Tennessee's fall foliage hotline is (800) 697-4200.
Fantastic foliage is just part of the fun found on a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains.