Visitors may come year-round to witness the fog hovering gracefully above the tree line in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but fall is a particularly special time because of the bright bursts of color that cover the mountainside. Leaves typically start to change in mid-September at higher elevations and can continue through early November. Leaf-peepers will delight in the range of trees (and their different colors), including American beech, yellow birch, mountain maple, sweetgum, and scarlet oak.
Not far from the park, Asheville makes for an ideal location to spend your nights and even some of your days. The area gets quite busy during the autumn season, so it's important to book early and it helps to stay midweek. Packages are also available, and some include discounts of up to $75 per night.
You can then choose activities based on whether your love for fall foliage is mellow, intense, or extreme. Mellow visitors can enjoy harvest excursions, while intense people are probably better suited to cycling, driving, and touring. The extreme fall enthusiast might want to try hot air ballooning or motorcycling.
The best part of visiting Asheville in the fall is it doesn't have to cost a fortune.