As Mother Nature begins painting the landscape with vivid splashes of reds, oranges, and yellows, the desire to experience the beauty of the fall season grows. Travel during one of the most popular seasons of the year might not seem affordable, but here are some awe-inspiring attractions that should not be missed and won’t do too much harm to one’s pocketbook.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
One of the most visited parks in the National Park Service system, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina is a free park offering some of the most spectacular views of fall foliage in the country. Whether hiking, biking, or driving through the 816 square miles of parkland, the varying elevation of the mountains help the fall colors develop at different stages, affording a spectacular view from every angle. Stay up-to-date on the changing fall foliage in the Smoky Mountains by bookmarking the Fall Color Report.
Where to Sleep:
On the Tennessee side of the mountain range, the small towns of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville offer an assortment of overnight options that make leaf peeping doable for most budgets. Both independently-owned and recognizable chain properties line the Parkway, and each town’s website offers an assortment of deals and packages that can help save some significant money when purchased in advance. In addition to hotel packages, those websites also offer attraction and shopping coupons providing another great way to save on upcoming vacations.
Thrifty travelers can save a few more dollars by patronizing one of the local grocery stores and packing a picnic lunch for the journey into the mountains. Make a ham and cheese or a trustworthy PB&J. Grab some hummus and pita chips to fancy things up, and stop by the local Apple Barn Winery for a bottle of local flavor. No matter what culinary delights one brings along, the locals request that guests be respectful to the mountains. Don’t litter, and do not feed the wildlife.
Save on Gas:
Another way to save money in the Smoky Mountain area is to use the park-and-ride trolley system that connects Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. The trolley is affordable, convenient, and easy to navigate. Check out the routes and prices for Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge trolleys in advance to become familiar with all the stops.