20 Incredible Places To See the Blue Ridge Mountains in Fall

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As the sweltering days of Summer say their goodbyes, the nights and mornings get a little cooler, and the promise of changing leaves in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Fall is tantalizingly close. 
Living in the Blue Ridge Mountains (as we do) offers year-round treats, from Spring blossoms and Summer wildflowers to Winter wonderlands.
But Autumn has always held a special place in my heart, because you don’t even have to go anywhere special in the Southern Appalachian region to be blown away by fantastic Fall colors.
Just making our way to work through Stone Mountain State Park, NC each day is a jaw-dropping experience!
That’s not to say there aren’t some special places. Whether you visit Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee or Virginia, there are many great places where you can get your fill of Fall in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Note that times for peak Fall foliage viewing change from year to year. There are many factors that can influence the timing and intensity of the colors, such as elevation, humidity, and temperature.
Read on for our in-depth guide to 20 incredible places to see prime Blue Ridge Mountains Fall colors. To avoid disappointment, check official websites before visiting to get a better sense for their peak leaf-peeping times. 

Blue Ridge Mountains in Fall Guide

(Arranged by State)

  1. Brasstown Bald
  2. Richard B Russell Scenic Highway
  3. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
  4. Fort Mountain State Park
  5. Black Rock Mountain State Park
  6. Grayveyard Fields
  7. Beech Mountain
  8. Grandfather Mountain State Park
  9. Clingmans Dome
  10. Julian Price Memoria Park
  11. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  12. Roan Mountain State Park
  13. Chattanooga
  14. Cherokee National Forest
  15. Tennessee Valley Railroad
  16. Grayson Highlands State Park
  17. Shenandoah National Park
  18. Mabry Mill
  19. Hungry Mother State Park
  20. Natural Bridge State Park

READ MORE:  30 Fun Facts About Appalachian Scots-Irish History & Culture


Fall in GA

Fall in GA - Brasstown Bald
Fall at Brasstown Bald, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

1. Brasstown Bald

Brasstown Bald boasts the superlative of being the highest natural point in the State of Georgia, towering an impressive 4,784 feet above sea level.

You can probably imagine the jaw-dropping views from up there, right?

Make that hike in Autumn and you’ll be blown away by the 360° views of the Blue Ridge Mountains range decked out in prime North GA Fall glory.

If you’re up for a hike to the top, be ready for a half-mile, strenuous uphill climb to get your leaf-peeping fix.

If not, you can jump on the shuttle provided by the park! Once you’re up there, you can enjoy views of Fall in Georgia as well as North Carolina and Tennessee.

READ MORE: Fall in the Mountains of North Georgia: 25 Places to See Fall Colors

Georgia fall -Richard B Russell Scenic Hwy near Helen Ga
Richard B Russell Scenic Hwy, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

2. Richard B Russell Scenic Hwy

This short (but well worth the drive) scenic highway is a perfect place to do a little leaf-peeping. Starting in Blairsville GA, folks can cruise the 17.6-mile road that leads to the quirky Alpine town of Helen GA.

The winding road through the mountains is surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest.

Though dense and lush in the Summer, the trees begin to transform in Autumn, showing off their red, orange, and gold leaves.

All of which you can see from the comfort of your vehicle, or at the various overlooks along the way. 

If you’re up for more than just a driving adventure, stop along the highway to take a hike or two. The Dukes Creek Falls trail is just 2 miles round-trip, while the ever-popular Raven Cliff Falls is a lovely 5-mile hike. 
Train ride Blue Ridge GA - Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

3. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway offers a magical journey through the North Georgia countryside.

Catch the historic train at the depot in Downtown Blue Ridge GA. Then kick back for a 26-mile round-trip journey along the Toccoa River, with a stop in the lovely twin towns of McCaysville GA and Copperhill TN.

If you take this trip in the Georgia Fall, you’ll get to see the wondrous Autumn colors of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the comfort of your own carriage.

There are open coaches, closed coaches, and even a premier coach if you’re feeling fancy.

Blue Ridge Fall foliage rides take place from late September into early November. Check out their website for details on tickets, and take a look at their special Thanksgiving and Christmas trips, too. 

READ MORE: 25 Fun Things To Do in Georgia for Fall

fall in Georgia - Cool Springs Overlook at Fort Mountain State Park near Ellijay GA
Cool Springs Overlook at Fort Mountain State Park, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

4. Fort Mountain State Park

Hikers, mountain bikers, and leaf-peepers alike love to head to Fort Mountain State Park in the Fall.

This magical place is located 17.7 miles northwest of Ellijay GA, with a CCC lookout tower and a legendary ancient rock wall that stretches 855 feet across the summit. 

If you’re looking for a fairly easy stroll, take the 1.2-mile loop trail that has you circling the park’s beautiful lake. For a serious challenge, try hiking the 8-mile Gahuti Trail.

There are several overlooks along this trail that are perfect for catching views of the surrounding Fall vistas, and there’s a multi-tiered North Georgia waterfall on Goldmine Branch Creek.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Corn Mazes in Georgia (Haunted Mazes, Kids Mazes & More)

fall in the mountains - Sunrise-in-Black-Rock-Mtn-State-Park
Sunrise at Black Rock Mountain State Park, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

5. Black Rock Mountain State Park

As Georgia’s highest-elevation State Park, Black Rock Mountain State Park is the perfect place to spy some spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Fall. 

There are a number of great hiking trails here, including the 2.2-mile Tennessee Rock Trail, which offers excellent sunset views.

If you’re interested in an epic all-day trek, check out the 7.2-mile James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail. 

Not a big hiker? No problem! Just driving through the park, exploring the Visitor Center, and/or having a picnic at Black Rock Lake will give you plenty of Fall foliage to marvel at. 

READ MORE: The 30 Best Fall Fairs and Festivals in Georgia


Fall in NC

NC fall - Graveyard Fields Waterfall near Asheville NC
Graveyard Fields Waterfall 

6. Graveyard Fields

Named after the tree stumps that were left behind after a terrible storm blew through centuries ago, Graveyard Fields is a prime place for leaf-peepers.

It’s located on the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC at Milepost 418.8, just 35 miles southwest of Asheville NC.

There’s a trail that leads hikers to two stunning waterfalls, which are framed beautifully in the NC Fall by the red and gold leaves of the forest. 

The first waterfall is just 1/3 of a mile along the trail, with is a viewing deck where you can get a perfect photo. Although it’s a short walk, it does require some uphill leg work. 

From this point you can head back to your car, or continue on the 4-mile Graveyard Fields Loop to see the Upper Falls. This is mostly a level hike, but does have a section of strenuous uphill climbing. 

READ MORE: The 12 Best Hendersonville Apple Orchards for Apple Picking & More

North Carolina fall - Lake Reflections in Beech Mountain, NC
Fall Reflections, photo courtesy BeechMtn.com

7. Beech Mountain

Widely considered one of the best places for snow skiing in NC, Beech Mountain is also high on our list of the best places to visit to catch beautiful views of Fall in North Carolina.

There are all kinds of activities and amenities on offer to visitors at the Beech Mountain resort.

You’ll find chair lifts, hiking trails, mountain biking, restaurants with to-die-for views, and even cabin rentals if you want to stay a few days. 

Not only is this a special place to experience the Appalachian Mountains in Fall, but the area is also home to 127 species of North Carolina birds, making it a birdwatchers’ paradise!

READ MORE: The 25 Best Pumpkin Patches in NC

fall in North Carolina - Grandfather Mountain State Park, NC
Fall colors in Grandfather Mountain State Park, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

8. Grandfather Mountain State Park

In our experience Grandfather Mountain State Park is one of the most wonderful of the 41 NC State Parks.

It spreads over 2,500 acres, and is home to the iconic 5946-foot-tall landmark that is Grandfather Mountain. 

Located in Banner Elk NC, Grandfather Mountain offers 12 miles of hiking trails that offer jaw-dropping views of North Carolina in full Fall glory.

We trekked to the top of Grandfather Mountain, and it was certainly a challenging, yet incredibly rewarding hike. 

Whether you’re taking in the vistas from the summit or enjoying being blanketed in Fall colors along the trails, Grandfather Mountain simply cannot be missed this Autumn

READ MORE: Fall in North Carolina: 25 Great Places to See Fall Colors in NC

fall colors in the smoky mountains - Early Morning below Clingmans Dome
Early Morning below Clingmans Dome, photo via Canva

9. Clingmans Dome

Located in the Great Smoky Mountains near the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, the Clingmans Dome observation tower offers spectacular scenic views all year round.

You can actually drive almost all the way up to the summit, giving those who are unable to hike uphill a chance to see something really special. 

Those who want to go the extra mile can park near the Visitor Center and continue up a paved, yet deceptively steep hiking trail to the 45-foot high lookout tower.

The trail is only half a mile, but we saw several people on the way up who were clearly wondering if the climb would be worth it. In our experience, it DEFINITELY is!

At 6,643 feet above sea level, Clingmans Dome will give leaf-peepers some of the earliest views of the breathtaking North Carolina Fall colors, which we rank among the best of the Blue Ridge Fall foliage.

READ MORE: The 25 Best Pumpkin Patches in NC

Fall in Blue Ridge Mountains on Price Lake at Julian Price Memorial Park
Fall Colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Price Lake, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

10. Julian Price Memorial Park

We’ve just returned from our latest camping trip to Julian Price Memorial Park. But I’m longing to return when the park’s mountain lake, bold creeks, and stunning forests will be bejeweled by Fall colors.

We did a lot of hiking in the park, completing the Boone Fork Trail, Green Knob Trail, Price Lake Trail, and a section of the Tanawah Trail. It was beautiful, but I can only imagine those scenes in peak Autumn. 

What’s more, the Linn Cove Viaduct and Moses H. Cone’s mountain manor house are just short drives away from Julian Price Memorial Park.

Both of these destinations would easily make our Top 10 list of places to see fantastic Fall foliage in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina

READ MORE: Apple Picking in North Carolina: The 15 Best NC Apple Orchards


Fall in TN

smoky mountains fall colors - John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove Great Smoky Mountains National Park
John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove, photo via Canva

11. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

There are a million reasons to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park at any time of year, but even more so in Autumn.

Simply one of our favorite places in the world, this Smoky Mountains park offers jaw-dropping views of Fall in Tennessee and North Carolina.

Driving along Newfound Gap Road will have you traveling through a tunnel of sugar maple, scarlet oak, sweet gum, red maple, and hickory trees, all showing off their Fall flair. 

You can take a drive around the Roaring Fork Motor Trail, then head over to Cades Cove for chance at spotting wildlife and seeing some really awesome views.

If you want to see the colors of Appalachian Autumn up close, take this chance to hike a section of the awe-inspiring Appalachian Trail

READ MORE: The 20 Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the Smoky Mountains

blue ridge fall in Tennessee - Roan Mountain State Park
Road through Roan Mountains TN in Fall

12. Roan Mountain State Park

Roan Mountain State Park encompasses around 2,000 acres at the base of Roan Mountain.

We loved our time visiting the Tennessee State Park, where we found ourselves a cool little campsite and enjoyed miles of hiking trails.

Take the Raven Rock Trail for a hike through the forest and a spectacular view of Fall in the mountains of TN.

A few of the hiking trails wind alongside the Doe River, giving you beautiful waterside views against an autumnal backdrop. These include the Barewallow Trail, our favorite Roan Mountain hiking trail.

The Miller Farmstead would be a gorgeous place to visit in the TN Fall, when the old farm house, hen house, and barns pop against the colorful trees that surround them. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Places to See Fall in Tennessee

Chattanooga in fall in the mountains
Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga in Fall

13. Chattanooga TN

The southeast Tennessee city of Chattanooga is a place of pilgrimage when it comes to Fall leaf-peeping.

This bustling mountain town is practically bursting with the joy of Autumn, celebrating all of the natural beauty that surrounds its urban area. 

There are several great trails that may have you hiking up a mountain, or take you to the Arboretum and Nature Center at the base of Lookout Mountain

The Tennessee River runs right through Downtown Chattanooga, and offers a chance for those who aren’t up for a hike to experience the Tennessee Fall colors with minimal effort.

You can also take a Fall foliage cruise on a Riverboat to see the colorful display in complete comfort!

READ MORE: The 10 Best Apple Orchards in Tennessee for Apple Picking & More

fall colors in Tennessee -Watauga Lake, Cherokee National Forest
Watauga Lake and the Cherokee National Forest in Fall

14. Cherokee National Forest

Bordering Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the alluring Cherokee National Forest offers everything from camping, hiking, and mountain biking to boating, and, of course, leaf-peeping. 

Autumn is a very popular time to visit this National Forest, with thousands of visitors making the trip each year to immerse themselves in the wondrous colors on display. 

You can take a scenic drive through the forest and pass by verdant farmlands and sensational views of the East Tennessee mountains.

The French Broad River, the third oldest river in the world, also passes through this forest and makes for some stunning Fall photo opportunities. 

READ MORE: The 10 Best Haunted Houses in Tennessee to Visit

fall foliage in Tennessee
Photo by Ryan Robinson & Mark Wurst courtesy of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

15. Tennessee Valley Railroad

If you want to view the Fall colors in style, hop on a Tennessee Valley Railroad train and take a trip through the Tennessee Valley, along the Hiwassee River, or around Chattanooga.

Autumn has never seemed so romantic as it does when viewed from an old-fashioned train chugging through the wilderness and blowing its whistle. 

You’ll be taken through the Appalachian Mountains, where you can sit back, relax, and soak the beauty that will surround you.

Keep your eyes peeled and your binoculars ready for local wildlife spotting, too! This is a great activity to do as a family, with snacks and dining options on board.

Just make sure that you book your tickets in advance, as Fall is a very popular time for these scenic train rides

READ MORE: The 10 Best Fairs in TN to Visit


Fall in VA

Fall in Virginia - Grayson Highlands State Park Wild Ponies
Grayson Highlands State Park Wild Pony, photo by Dawson Tozier

16. Grayson Highlands State Park 

Grayson Highlands State Park is a gorgeous place to visit at any time of the year. There are seemingly endless trails through meadows and forests, leading to Virginia waterfalls.

There’s an old homestead in the park where visitors can get a feel of life in the post-Civil War 19th century. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a wild pony or two. 

The immense beauty of this wilderness is only intensified when Fall rolls in and blankets the park and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in a colorful tapestry.

You can also attend Grayson Highlands State Park’s annual Fall Festival, which usually happens towards the end of September. 

Festival attendees can listen to live bluegrass and old-time music (cue the banjos!), enjoy southern-style BBQ, and browse rows of crafts stalls while enjoying the crisp, cool air of Fall in Virginia.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Pumpkin Patches in VA

Shenandoah National Park in Fall
Shenandoah National Park in Fall

17. Shenandoah National Park

The Blue Ridge Parkway turns into Skyline Drive in the jewel of Virginia’s crown, Shenandoah National Park.

Wherever you go in the park, there are stunning views of the Blue Ridge and the Appalachian Mountains in their full VA Fall grandeur.

People flock to the park at this time of year to take in jaw-dropping views of the splendid Autumn colors that are on full display from late September into early November. 

You can enjoy the spectacular scenery from the comfort of your car, or make the most of the 500 miles of hiking trails the park has to offer.

The NPS website has done an awesome job of helping visitors pick the ideal trail for them, whether it’s a hike to see waterfalls or the best places to spot wildflowers or wildlife

READ MORE: Apple Picking in Virginia: The 20 Best VA Apple Orchards to Visit

Virginia Fall - Mabry Mill with Fall Colors in Meadows of Dan VA
Mabry Mill (Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 176), photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

18. Mabry Mill 

One of the best (and most popular) spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway for taking pictures, Mabry Mill is a must-see for anyone seeking that perfect photo of Fall in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Located at Milepost 176.2, Mabry Mill has so much to offer, whether you’re out for a day-trip drive on the BRP or camping nearby at Rocky Knob. 

The Visitor Center has a lovely gift shop, as well as a Mabry Mill restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They’re famed for their delicious buckwheat, sweet potato, and regular pancakes. 

You can carb up before taking a short walk over to the early 1900s grist mill for some killer shots of the famous waterwheel against the backdrop of the Fall forest. 

Visitors can also peak in at Ed and Lizzy Mabry’s cabin, and maybe catch a living history demonstration. 

READ MORE: The 20 Best Overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Fall

blue ridge mountains fall colors - Hungry Mother State Park SWVA Fall
Hungry Mother State Park in Fall

19. Hungry Mother State Park 

We have thoroughly enjoyed our time exploring Hungry Mother State Park in Southwest Virginia.

My husband and I hiked the 5.7-mile Lake Trail Loop and enjoyed trekking through rhododendron, along a lake where folks were kayaking and fishing, and past a beach where kids were jumping from a diving platform. 

When summer turns to Autumn, the park’s striking purple fireweed dies back and bathing suits are exchanged for jeans and hoodies.

Soon the lake will be shrouded in glowing gold, vibrant red, and vivid yellow.

It’s a great time to get some amazing Virginia Fall photos of the gem-like leaves reflected in the still waters of the mountain lake!

READ MORE: The 10 Most Haunted Places in Virginia to Visit

Fall in blue ridge mountains range - Natural Bridge State Park VA Fall
Natural Bridge State Park VA in Fall, photo courtesy Virginia State Parks

20. Natural Bridge State Park 

The land that this Virginia state park sits upon was once owned by Thomas Jefferson and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It was named Virginia’s newest state park in 2016, and it’s an absolute must-see in Autumn. 

Turning the corner of the trail leading from the Visitor Center and catching your first glimpse of the 215-foot-tall Natural Bridge is truly a jaw-dropping experience.

We had just finished exploring the Caverns at Natural Bridge when we decided to visit the bridge itself for the first time.

It was the depths of Summer when we visited, but the photo above gives a taste of what the bridge, creekside trail, and 30-foot-drop waterfall might look liker cloaked in the colors of Autumn.  -by Emma Gallagher; lead image by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

Born in Britain, writer/photographer Emma Gallagher lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC on a permaculture homestead with her husband, Jonathon. While traveling the world for 13 years, she fell in love with the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge region when she lived at an artist retreat in Burnsville NC before moving to Brevard. Today Emma lives near Stone Mountain State Park and Doughton Park volunteers at the Surry County Fiddlers Convention, and cares for the gardens at the Reeves Downtown School of Music in Elkin. She's also a volunteer for the Elkin Valley Trails Association, which maintains segment 6 of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.