November Smoky Mountains fall colors auto drive: Foothills Parkway East
Great pockets of fall colors and outstanding views of the Great Smoky Mountains can still be found in the Smokies. One of the best roads to see the fall colors right now by car, motorcycle or bicycle is the Foothills Parkway East.
All of the sections of Foothill Parkways are next to, in or overlooking the Great Smoky Mountains national park and are beautifully maintained by the national park service.
The Foothills Parkway East Connects I-40 with US 321 by Cosby Tennessee and is the best way to get from I-40 to Gatlinburg. This small stretch of road climbs steadily to a crest and then winds its way back down to the valley below.
The Foothills Parkway right now has fantastic color along the roadside with brilliant yellow maples leaves just turning into reds and peaches, oranges, and reds from brilliant light rose to deep burgundy.
You can also see plenty of green around the roadside from the yellow pines, Rhododendron and mountain laurel bushes, trees that haven't changed and grasses and undergrowth.
The pull off on the north side of the Foothills Parkway looks out to mountains, farms, rolling grass fields and the city of Newport in the distance. There is some color in the vista but the best fall color right here is in the tunnel of trees leading to and from this pull off and across the road.
The other 2 large pull offs on the Foothills Parkway East have the best color and the best Smoky Mountains view.
The best time to catch the views and see the fall colors when they are most vibrant on these pull offs is late in the afternoon as the last hour of sun is amazing and you can see how the light comes down in horizontal shafts and the colors in the leaves pop out. Sunrise is fantastic too.
The Foothill Parkway East is the best road to see the fall colors if you are going from Tennessee to areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park such as Cataloochee or Big Creek or going to Maggie Valley or Max Patch.
The Foothills Parkway East is less than an hour from most of the best cabin rentals in the Smokies.