Best Time for Fall Photos

Best Time for fall Weddings in the Smokies

The Best Time for Fall Photos in the Smokies

Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons of the year in Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains for weddings, elopements, engagement photos, and family pictures. The weather is cooler and the leaves turn the most beautiful hues of orange, yellow, and red. Being in the Smokies is an amazing sight, with beautiful shades of fall speckled across East Tennessee and leaves drifting in the air everywhere. Not to mention, it’s also one of our favorite times of the year for hot apple cider, campfires, pumpkins, and a slow drive around the Cades Cove loop.

When is the best time to take fall photos in the Smokies?

One of the most popular questions we receive is, “When is the best time to take fall photos?” Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to this because it varies every year due to temperature and the amount of rainfall in East Tennessee. However, we can make very educated guesses during certain timeframes that there will be fall colors.

We have found over the past decade of taking wedding photos and engagement pictures that the best time for fall photos in the higher elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains is mid-October, and the best time for fall photos in the Knoxville area is late October and early November around Halloween.

  • Mid-to-late October: Higher elevations such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Asheville, and Max Patch
  • Late October and Early November: Lower elevations such as Knoxville, Maryville, and Chattanooga

The trees begin to change colors in the highest elevations first, and then it spreads down to lower elevations. So, for example, if you started at Clingman’s Dome and found that most of the trees there have fall colors, as you drive down the mountains into Elkmont there would not be as many trees with fall colors. And then, if you continued to drive into Knoxville, there would be very few with fall colors. This slowly changes over the course of a few weeks, so each elevation has its “peak” at different times. Also, different trees will begin changing colors at different times, so one tree may have dropped all of its leaves while the other tree next to it is just beginning to change.

How far in advance should we schedule fall photos in the Smokies?

October is the busiest month of the year for weddings and photos in East Tennessee because it’s so beautiful! We recommend scheduling your fall photos many weeks (or months) in advance for the most availability. The earlier you schedule your session with your photographer, the most flexibility and availability you will have.

What are some of the best locations for fall photos in the Smokies?

Across East Tennessee, there are many beautiful locations for fall pictures. From The Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Knoxville, some of our favorite spots include everything from wide scenic views high atop the Foothills Parkway and Clingman’s Dome to an intimate grove of trees at Knoxville Botanical Gardens, a pumpkin patch in Greenback or Max Patch!

Here is a list of our Top Wedding Locations in the Smoky Mountains.

One of the most popular locations for national park visitors is Cades Cove. It is a 1-way driving loop, and you can view layers and layers of mountains with autumn colors everywhere. But plan your trip to Cades Cove with a lot of time to spare! Because it’s such a popular location and it is a 1-way driving loop, it can take 3-6 hours to drive the loop or longer.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Wedding Photographer

We are authorized Great Smoky Mountains National Park wedding photographers, and the park is a beautiful destination for mountain weddings, elopements, and photo sessions. If you live in Knoxville, Maryville, East Tennessee, or you are traveling to Gatlinburg, Sevierville, or Pigeon Forge from out of state, then you know how gorgeous the national park is for photos. We have the permit required to photograph weddings in the park, and we visit the park dozens of times each year to photograph weddings.

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    jophoto - smoky mountain wedding photographersthis is us!Hey!

    Hi! We're Joe and Kathleen, and we're a husband and wife photography team specializing in weddings and elopements for adventurous couples in the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, and East Tennessee.


    Celebrate in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, by the river, on top of the mountains, or in a cozy cabin...wherever adventure takes you, our job is to take photos you'll love for years to come.

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    Wedding Photography

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    Smoky Mountain Wedding Photographers

    Joe & Kathleen Atkins


    Tel: (865) 919-7280 Calls only