If you’re coming to the mountains, it only makes sense to stay in the mountains, and autumn is the most popular time for many to stay in the foothills of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg.

If gas prices or busy lifestyles kept you away during the traditional summer travel period, have no fear – autumn is nearly here! Life doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Get an altitude adjustment and treat yourself this fall by planning a trip to the foothills of the Smokies.

The streets of Gatlinburg are more serene compared to summer vacation flow, yet shops and attractions are still hopping and have plenty to offer. School is back in session during these months, so adults and families with preschool children find that Gatlinburg has a bounty of offerings in store.

One of the best times to visit Gatlinburg is after Labor Day when September’s warm, sunny days and cool, clear nights mix with just the right amount of rain to begin the transformation of 800 square miles of lush green forest into a brilliant palette of vibrant autumnal colors by early October.

Did you know that for about eight weeks each autumn, you can always find color peaking at some elevation of the Smokies, where most of the 100 or so species of trees are deciduous and shed their leaves. Color displays above 4,000 feet start as early as mid-September and the middle and lower elevations typically peak between mid-October and early November.

Artisans and storekeepers strive to mimic the beauty of the mountains by carrying the same colors into often-elaborate storefront decorations, thus turning this little mountain town into a promenade of Southern Appalachian sights.

Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival complements this facade of autumn. Fall decorations, special events, entertainment, and local crafts exhibits complement this festival which cranks up September 13 and continues through October 31.

The eight-mile loop of Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community is a drive visitors will not want to miss. Situated on the northeast side of Gatlinburg, it is the only zoned crafts community in the United States. Onlookers can view live demonstrations of candy-making, watch as ordinary wood is turned into works of art, and marvel at the intricate handiwork of mountain artisans as they handle the delicate tasks of quilting, broom making, and pottery-throwing.

On Thursday, September 27, a multitude of Gatlinburg’s finest restaurants will serve menu favorites for a United Way of Sevier County fundraiser in the 15th Annual Taste of Autumn at Gatlinburg Convention Center.

Arts and crafts are important to the heritage of the Smoky Mountains, and if visitors missed it during July, Gatlinburg’s Craftsmen’s Fair once again becomes the focal gathering point for over 180 craftspeople from around the United States as they exhibit and sell their traditional handiwork at the Gatlinburg Convention Center from October 11 through October 28. Live country and bluegrass entertainment is featured throughout each day.

October also means Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg and Fright Nights at Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, and don’t forget to check out the mermaids at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. There’s a special event for everyone in Gatlinburg.

While October is known throughout eastern America as being a beautiful time for leaf-watchers, the latter part of October often extending into the first days of November is also a rewarding time to visit Gatlinburg. The red maple trees that shroud the Great Smoky Mountains turn deep crimson and orange in color during that time, making it a sight to see and a pure wonder of nature.

Coming to the mountains? It only makes sense to stay in the mountains of Gatlinburg! For mountains of information, call 800-56-VISIT (568-4748) or visit Gatlinburg online at www.gatlinburg.com.