Crisp breezes, falling foliage and mountains of amazing color make Pigeon Forge one of fall’s must-see destinations. Located among the misty mountains, charming valleys and peaceful scenery of east Tennessee, Pigeon Forge is an idyllic year-round destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Fall’s foliage kicks it up a notch with bursts of fiery red, flame-kissed orange and golden yellow. Though it can vary, peak color in the Smoky Mountains begins around mid-October and lasts until early November.
Pigeon Forge Activities
Get your adrenaline rush, and a unique perspective of autumn color, on mountaintop ziplines at Smoky Mountain Ziplines or Adventure Park Ziplines. Go hiking along the Tennessee River or brave the curving downhill rush of the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. Then, there’s the 60-foot high Treetop Skywalk and the 360-degree views of the AnaVista Tower observation deck. Less adventurous visitors can practice their swing at Wild Laurel Golf Course or Gatlinburg Golf Course while taking in the stunning views of the Smoky Mountains.
Smart Storage for Hikers and Photographers
You’ll want your camera or Smartphone to capture as much of the dazzling color as possible. You’ll also want to make sure your stuff is protected when not in use. The Swissgear 2712 Anti-Theft USB Tablet Sling has padded sling shoulder straps and a mesh back for comfort while hiking or biking. The built-in USB port lets you keep your electronics charged on-the-go. There’s a padded 8-inch tablet sleeve and lots of internal pockets to carry maps, keys, wallets, small snacks and other necessities you never knew you needed. There’s also a handy water bottle holder on the side.
Speaking of water bottles, don’t go hiking without one. The Swissgear 18 Oz. Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle is vacuum-insulated with a double wall to keep drinks cold for up to 24 hours or hot for 12 hours. Early morning hikes make a strong mug of coffee a must. The stainless steel twist cap has a carrying handle, but the small and ergonomic design will fit easily into a holder on a travel backpack. It’s rust and shatter-resistant and made of BPA-free materials.
Dining with a View
Don’t miss out on the views just because it’s time to dine. Pigeon Forge and nearby Gatlinburg offer a wide variety of dining venues with a view. Visit the mountain lodge setting of the upscale Cherokee Grill or sit back and relax outdoors at the Cliff Top Grill & Bar. Steaks, burgers, BBQ ribs and seafood make an excellent pairing with the mountaintop locations. Enjoy the country cooking, Southern hospitality and the 1830s gristmill scene at the Old Mill Restaurant.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Located in the misty blue-tinged Smoky Mountains of Gatlinburg, Great Smoky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the U.S. It sits on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. It offers more than 522,000 acres of spruce-fir forests filled with native wildlife and natural attractions such as rushing waterfalls, rambling rivers and fish-filled streams. Dedicated in 1940 by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The park has historic buildings, log cabins, gristmills, barns and structures dating to the 1800s located throughout it. There’s no entrance fee and you can drive, hike, camp or watch nature to your heart’s content. Parts of the Appalachian Trail wind through the park. Be sure to take advantage of the scenic overlooks for selfies, groupies and Insta-worthy landscape pics.
Hands-Free Hiking Help
If you’re traveling on foot, by bike or even on horseback, you’ll want a hands-free way to carry necessities. The Swissgear 6067 Getaway Big Backpack 2.0 is one of the best carry on bags around. Whether you’re using it as a day pack or for travel essentials like clothing and toiletries, it does double duty for day trips or weekend excursions. There’s a spacious main compartment with a mesh pocket on either side that will keep phones, cameras, keys and other items dry and secure.
This backpack has clothing tie-down straps for use as a weekend bag. The front has inserts for pens, a small note pad, a tablet and chargers. The side compartment has an RFID-protected sleeve for a 15-inch laptop. It’s made of durable polyester and has padded ergonomic shoulder straps, a top and side grab handle and an expandable zippered pocket that provides two inches of extra space.
Sites and Trails for Leaf Peeping
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to more than 1,500 kinds of flowering plants and trees such as hickory, oak, birch and red maple. In an effort to eclipse the show-stopping hues of the leaves, flowers like goldenrod, asters, sunflowers and coneflowers come out to show off their colors. Cades Cove, Roaring Forks Nature Trail and Cataloochee are perfect drives to experience falling leaves, scenic overlooks and wildlife such as birds, bears and elk. Clingmans Dome is the highest peak and has an observation tower.
Whether you’re taking a road trip or traveling by air, the best thing you can take with you to the Smoky Mountains is your sense of adventure. Well, that and a great travel backpack.