Thanks to Leon Downey and Tom Adkinson of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism for providing these helpful answers and information.
Foliage.org: What are the average dates of the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee foliage season?
Fall color in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pigeon Forge’s next-door neighbor, lasts for such a long time that few people really target a peak week. They know that they’ll get a show almost anytime they visit in autumn. Color can start appearing in mid-September and last well into November.
Foliage.org: Are there areas, vistas, scenic lookouts or other destinations within Pigeon Forge that are known for their uniquely beautiful autumn foliage displays?
Pigeon Forge is in the valley of the Little Pigeon River, and the ridges of Great Smoky Mountains National Park rise above the town, meaning that almost every spot in town provides a view. One of the most spectacular sights from Pigeon Forge’s central street, the Parkway, is the west-facing slope of Mt. LeConte (elevation 6,593 feet) when it is bathed in the golden glow of a Tennessee sunset.
Foliage.org: What are the local and regional roads or highways that are favorite scenic routes for Fall tourists?
Pick almost any route in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and you’ll be pleased.Little River Road winds along a beautiful trout stream, Newfound Gap Road climbs to the highest point in Tennessee (Clingmans Dome, 6,643 feet elevation) and the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop is a treat because of its vistas of open meadow and surrounding ridges. (Note: The Cades Cove Loop is a one-lane route and can get quite congested. Veteran visitors pick weekdays over weekends.)
Foliage.org: What festivals or other public events are taking place during autumn?
Business throughout Pigeon Forge compete during by building colorful autumn displays using hay bales, mums, gourds, sunflowers, scarecrows and other decorations.
The Pigeon Forge Rotary Club conducts one of the region’s top crafts fairs in the city’s Patriot Park.
The Dollywood theme park (Tennessee’s most visited tourist attraction) provides a major reason to visit with its National Gospel & Harvest Festival that showcases some of the top acts in gospel music and an array of talented craftsmen and artists during the month of October.
Foliage.org: Are there historic or cultural sites that are popular destinations for Fall foliage travelers? What are they?
Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (see note above) is a veritable time capsule. It preserves homes, barns, churches and a gristmill from an almost self-sufficient farm community that thrived before the national park was created.
Walking, bicycling or driving the 11-mile loop around Cades Cove provides a great lesson in pioneer history and scenes worthy of Norman Rockwell paintings.
Foliage.org: What are some other popular tourist attractions for autumn travelers to Pigeon Forge. What are some of the less well known, but much loved local attractions?
Dollywood provides a special way to enjoy fall foliage in Pigeon Forge-a ride on an authentic steam train. Dollywood’s locomotive pulls open-air coaches on a five-mile trip that starts in the theme park and winds into the mountains. Children who never have experienced the sounds, sights and power of a steam locomotive are especially entertained.
Foliage.org: Are there favorite destinations for history, literature, architecture buffs, or antique collectors? What are they?
An in-town treasure for fans of architecture, history and engineering is the Old Mill. This structure was built in 1830 and has been operating ever since. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places. At one point, it even was the electrical generating plant for Pigeon Forge, but that was in another era.
The Old Mill is the anchor attraction in a complex called Old Mill Square. Flour and cornmeal from the mill are used at two restaurants, and you even can buy some to take home for your own baking.
Foliage.org: What are some favorite destinations or activities of families traveling during the Fall travel season?
Pigeon Forge is geared for family fun. Dollywood, of course, it the biggest single attraction, but there are dozens of others. They range from miniature golf courses and go-cart tracks to more than a dozen theaters featuring all types of entertainment and Zorb Smoky Mountains. Don’t recognize Zorb? Imaging climbing inside an 11-foot-tall inflated plastic ball and then rolling down a mountainside. It’s the only Zorb location in North America and an experience you’ll not forget.
Foliage.org: What are some helpful resources for discovering local inns, bed and breakfasts, lodges, boutique hotels, and other local lodging and dining?
The comprehensive resource for Pigeon Forge visitor information is the city’s
tourism department. Visit MyPigeonForge.com or call toll-free to 1-800-251-9100.
Foliage.org: Is there anything else you would like to tell visitors thinking about traveling Pigeon Forge for the fall foliage season?
Fall, of course, eventually turns into winter, and the kickoff of the annual Pigeon Forge Winterfest takes place at Patriot Park. Winterfest is a four-month series of special events, lighting displays and family entertainment. It is heralded this year as one of the Top 100 Events in North America, according to the American Bus Association.