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Help with Fall Colors Itinerary Please

Napa, California
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Help with Fall Colors Itinerary Please

First thank you for any comments, suggestions, and ideas.

Second, I'm in the very first pre-planning stage of this trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. I know absolutely nothing about the area. However after reading through other posts I have a tentative plan. My primary purpose is to photograph the fall colors. So I'm looking at coming in the 3rd week of October. I'm planning on 4 days for the park.

I will fly into Greenville SC and spend the night at a girlfriends house. From there I will be going through Cherokee to the park entrance on the eastern side. I'm trying to decide whether I should go all the way to Gatlinberg and spend the night there or just stay in Cherokee and do all my driving into the park from there. I just got back from Yellowstone and stayed the entire time in West Yellowstone but a lessen learned would have been to say there for the lower loop and then in Gardiner for the upper loop. The drives were long and I had to backtrack a few times. I don't mind changing hotels. I also don't mind back-tracking if it isn't too far of a drive. I'm just not sure how big the park actually is and how fast it would be to get through each day. I'm pretty thrifty on hotels but I don't want to stay in a flea bag motel either. Which location could I find the best selection of inexpensive hotels?

In addition, does anyone have any favorite fall color locations?

Finally, after reading other posts I am very interested in the Biltmore Estate and possibly going to one of Paula Deens restaurants. The Biltmore estate I found tons of information on. I'm sure I can get info on Paula Deen's restaurant. Does anyone have any other suggestions for anything around the Greenville SC area since I will spend the last few days there. I'm a foodie, photographer, wine snob and history nut! Well in addition to a National Park Junkie!

I will be traveling solo and look forward to this trip! I have not made my travel arrangements yet but will do so in the next day (sale prices are going on now) so everything is still open.

Thank you for any help and suggestions.

nashville
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1. Re: Help with Fall Colors Itinerary Please

the smokies are about a quarter of the size of yellowstone. it's a big place, but not as big.

Cherokee's a good central spot to explore the NC side and Newfound Gap coordidor (the road that bisects the park north-south).

Gatlinburg's the most central town to explore the TN side.

of course the leaves will change starting from the top and moving down. Newfound Gap road goes up and over the Smoky Range, giving you a taste of all elevations... you can use this to figure out where things are happening leaf-wise.

this blog is a good way to track it from afar... get some first-hand reports:

thegreatsmokymountains.org/blog/…

Macon, Georgia
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2. Re: Help with Fall Colors Itinerary Please

I would stay in either Bryson City NC or Cherokee.

I would spend a day at Biltmore Estate and check out downtown Asheville. It is a beautiful city. Have dinner at Tupelo Honey Cafe.

I would spend 1 day in the national park. Go to Cades Cove and Roaring Fork Motor Trail. The traffic is a nightmare in October so go on a weekday.

With this being said there are some great photo ops in NC with very little traffic. When you leave Greenville get on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Hendersonville. Take it all the way to Cherokee. Around October 15 this drive will be at peak colors. Take these two side roads off the BRP, highway 276 and 215. Both of these are beautiful drives with many waterfalls and breathtaking views.

Another road about an hour west of Bryson City is the Cherohala Skyway. Very little traffis and awesome color around October 115th. Visit Joyce Kilmer National Forest for a great hike and more photo ops.

http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/

http://main.nc.us/graham/hiking/joycekil.html

http://www.telliquah.com/skyway.htm

nashville
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3. Re: Help with Fall Colors Itinerary Please

+1 for Bryson City ... very nice town, not touristy... has good restaurants... adjacent to Deep Creek and Lakeshore Drive park entrances and not too far from Newfound Gap Rd.

Mississippi
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4. Re: Help with Fall Colors Itinerary Please

In agreement with popsoda, the best fall photos we have been able to take have been along the Cherahala Skyway, and that was a couple of years ago in the 3rd week of October. You probably know that you can't really count on the color change being consistent from year to year, but I think that particular time is your best bet.

Tremendous trees (Tulip Poplars) at Joyce Kilmer. Might be some of the largest east of the Mississippi, and easy to access.

Napa, California
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5. Re: Help with Fall Colors Itinerary Please

Thanks for all the wonderful information. I'm getting pretty excited about this trip. I will go to wherever the colors are at!

Popsoda, I am planning on staying in Asheville and will definitely see the Biltmore estate. A girlfriend of mine owns a condo there so I won't have to worry about finding a hotel. I'm flying into Greenville so the route you are suggesting was already in the plan..... just by chance! My same friend who owns a condo in Asheville also has a house in Greenville so I don't have to worry about hotels at least in North/South Carolina.

I will definitely map out all of your suggestions. Thank you so much for all of your help with this. I'm sure I will have more questions as I finalize the plan. I hope that my timing will be good......

6. Re: Help with Fall Colors Itinerary Please

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