The Tribe's Favorite Fall Mountain Destinations
Oh, how I savor the quiet joy of crisp cool air seeping through an open window, touching my face, whetting my appetite for adventure. Cool Autumn mornings exhume an energy the suffocating heat of Summer stifles. Primitive instincts induce ritualistic behaviors such as fire building, hiking, and sleeping under the stars. Even the children are aware of the changes. Already they know, life is about to get a little better. Autumn is a time of rebirth and recreation. Autumn is magic, and Autumn in the mountains of the southeastern United States is magic beyond description.
The Appalachian mountains begin right here, in the southeastern US. Altogether, this massive prehistoric mountain range features brilliant Autumn colors, unique wildlife, and sensational experiences. The majestic ridges begin in Alabama and stretch across Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and beyond. The range provides a variety of mountain destinations for the Fall season, and we have visited most. If you are considering a seasonal trek to the southern Appalachians for Fall, please, allow us to provide some direction.
The first mountain destination that comes to mind is the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. No doubt, the Smokies are an experience of which everyone should partake at least once in their lifetime. The western side of the Smokies can be accessed from Townsend, Tennessee, one of our favorite places to stay while visiting the park. We typically stay at the Townsend KOA because many of the campsites overlook the trout filled Little River, and the great activities the campground staff provide for the kids. From Townsend, we can easily access the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pigeon Forge, Dollywood, Gatlinburg, Cades Cove, and the ghost town of Elkmont.
The eastern side of the Smokies also offer a variety of Fall experiences. Cherokee, North Carolina is the home of the eastern band of the Cherokee nation, the last of the hold-outs from the notorious Tail of Tears. A must-see is the critically acclaimed outdoor theatrical production "Unto These Hills," the story of the Cherokee's forced exodus. When visiting this side of the Smokies, we like to stay at Stone Bridge RV Resort (now a NASCAR resort) in Maggie Valley. From Maggie Valley, it's a short drive to Asheville and the Biltmore House, an awesome Autumn destination. If rockhounding is of interest, the Old Pressley Sapphire Mine is also just a short drive. Within Maggie Valley, there are many great places to eat and entertain yourself, including an incredible motorcycle museum.
A bit south of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the Chattahoochee National Forest. There are a numerous places to visit within the Chattahoochee national Forest, but we tend to prefer the state parks. Perhaps the most beloved park is Vogel, located deep within the mountains near Blairsville. One of our favorite destinations, Fort Mountain State Park, is also an awesome destination in the Autumn season.
To the west, Lookout Mountain dominates the horizon. Way up on Lookout Mountain, near Fort Payne, is a rugged Alabama destination by the name of Desoto State Park. The park has a wonderful campground (full hookups), cabins, a lodge, pool, tennis courts, and lots of great hiking. While staying at Desoto, we like to visit the Little River Canyon Center, Desoto Falls, Mentone, and Sequoyah Caverns.
Due North of Lookout Mountain in Tennessee is the Cumberland Plateau and Fall Creek Falls State Park. Fall Creek Falls is loaded with so many things to do, you could easily spend the entire season and never get bored. There are great paved bike paths, tennis courts, playgrounds, horseback riding, and a top ranked 18-hole golf course.
So, there you have it. There are many other southeastern Autumn destination well worth the visit, but I only have so much space. Here is the official list of southeastern Autumn mountain destinations.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park
- Townsend, Tennessee (Townsend KOA)
- Maggie Valley, North Carolina (Stonebridge RV Resort)
Chattahoochee National Forest
- Vogel State Park, Blairsville, Georgia
- Fort Mountain State Park - Chatsworth, Georgia
- Desoto State Park - Fort Payne, Alabama
- Fall Creek falls State Park -
For more destinations, visit the "Places to Go" page. There's a map!