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Visiting Smoky Mountains in the Fall: Which Area/Resorts shall I look for?

LisaH

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Planning our first trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and would like to get some input about which area we should stay and which resorts I should be searching for. Have both RCI and II but prefer to use RCI as I have lots of TPUs to use. Also any idea what time frame is the best to enjoy fall color?
 

joestein

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I don't know if you have any children/grandchildren coming with you, but Wyndham Great Smokies Lodge is located within the Wilderness at the Smokies. It is the best of both worlds. You have the timeshare in the Smokey Mountain area and a huge indoor (and a couple of outdoor) waterparks to enjoy. I am staying there myself in late August.

Joe
 

LisaH

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Thanks! No kids. Looks like Gatlinburg is even closer to the Park than Sevierville. Which town has more things to do? Any resorts to recommend in Gatlinburg? We like to hike and good food.
 

eschjw

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There are 4 resorts in Gatlinburg that I have stayed in.

1. The closest to the park and the only one that is within easy walking distance to the main Gatlinburg strip is HICV Great Smoky Mountains. It is a RCI Gold Crown and I got a rental from TUG Member Tank. It is located on Airport Road. Nice place with indoor pool plus several water features. You can be in the park in five minutes from there and it is my top choice.

2. Treetops is also a Gold Crown that is farther off the main road near the end of the one way nature trail road that does meander into the park. Access to the beginning of this one way road is from Airport Road. Several buildings were destroyed in the wildfire of November 2017. These building are being rebuilt and the new indoor pool and racket ball court just recently opened. If you are a nature lover you might like this resort, but 2 of the buildings are still under construction and will not be completed until next year. Checkout their Facebook page for more information.

3. Bluegreen Mountain Loft is located further away up Hwy 321 and it escaped damage from the wildfire but our favorite breakfast place nearby was destroyed. This resort is also a good place to stay.

4. Westgate Smoky Mountain is located on the lower end of HWY 321 just after you enter the city limits. Very spread out and up hills, but nice resort with an indoor water park.

My wife's favorite is the Gold Crown Wyndham Smoky Mountains on Collier Drive because it is near the Tanger Outlets. It also has great access via Veterans Blvd to Dollywood. If you want to avoid the main drag traffic on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge, Veterans Blvd is your friend.

My Grandkids favorite is Wyndham Great Smokies Lodge because of the water park, but it is farthest to the National Park. If you do not know the back roads, the fall weekend traffic can be a real problem.

My timeshare (Oakmont) is on Veterans near the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge. It is a Silver Crown and room selection here is important because there are no elevators and most of the buildings have 3 floors. We have even better access to Dollywood and the Island entertainment complex on Teaster Lane, but it is a step down from the Gold Crown resorts.

If you want see the fall colors, it really does vary greatly from year to year. Mid to late October tends to be the peak in the upper elevations. In the lower elevations the peak colors tend to run from late October to early November. Last year in 4th week of October the upper elevations in the Park had lost their leaves, but Gatlinburg was very nice. Two years ago in the 3rd week of October Gatlinburg had very little color and the upper elevations had still not peaked.
 

LisaH

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Thank you! I think all the resorts mentioned above will work for us. I’ll enter a search for late Oct.
 

Icc5

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Planning our first trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and would like to get some input about which area we should stay and which resorts I should be searching for. Have both RCI and II but prefer to use RCI as I have lots of TPUs to use. Also any idea what time frame is the best to enjoy fall color?
We went a few different times several years ago and loved Tree Top. I would go back any chance I got, just love that entire area.
Bart
 

Cheapseater

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I concur with eschjw. Considering your interests and traveling plans, then recommend staying in or near Gatlinburg.

The fall season is busy and October is the most visited fall month. The beauty of fall and the peak of college football season make the GSMNP a great place to spend clear days and chill in the air evenings.

If you prefer a sense of being away from the village of Gatlinburg, then Tree Tops Resort or Bluegreen are very good choices. We very much prefer Tree Tops but have enjoyed various properties, cabins and hotels and pitched our tent many times thru the years. We also reside close by and day-trip to the GSMNP.

Due to the various elevations within the GSMNP one can find color throughout the month but as noted the highest and best time frame is usually mid October thru the first week of November.

I usually stay in Gatlinburg for several days in the third week of October for CLE. The weekdays are comfortably busy but the nearer the weekend the greater the traffic. The beauty of the GSMNP is that you are only have to select a trail and the crowd is no more. Also visitors really do not get going until around 930 to 10 in the mornings so if you get up and out it is like it is a different place. Dining, walking, driving, getting to trailheads, etc are really easy in the early mornings. Seeing that you are from the Bay area, perhaps traffic will not be an issue to you, but weekends can be jammed. Thus the recommendation of Gatlinburg over Sevierville or Pigeon Forge.

The best dining spots are the many places in the GSMNP. There are some really great day camp areas with tables, restrooms and grills throughout the Park. Many along waterways.

Wildlife can be seen at any time but the mornings and dusk are the highest and best times. The best place for groceries is Food City just north of Gatlinburg proper off of Hwy 321.
 

Tank

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Eschjw wrote
1. The closest to the park and the only one that is within easy walking distance to the main Gatlinburg strip is HICV Great Smoky Mountains. It is a RCI Gold Crown and I got a rental from TUG Member Tank. It is located on Airport Road. Nice place with indoor pool plus several water features. You can be in the park in five minutes from there and it is mytop choice.



Thanks Eschjw for the plug, we love HICV Smokey Mountan resort downtown Gatlinburg.
Glad you enjoyed your stay! I rent about 15 trips a year. It's about a 8 hour drive for us, I hope to get here more often.

I hope my kids take advantage now that they are grown up. As a young parent paying for a vacation was tough , and my plan is to provide a place to ease the burden. Now if we can just get them to plan ahead Just reserved Lake Geneva for my oldest for Labor Day. He's taking his inlaws, what the heck! Good people but I hope we get to join them once in a while.

I do a annual raffle fundraiser at our school using a week from our HICV timeshare system. Going to Catholic Schools we have been envolved with many lame fundraising projects.
I have perfected this as the easiest money maker I've ever been involved with going on the 7th year now. Our small school (100 students) makes $4500.00 after expenses on this annually.
Actually thinking about marketing this fund raiser.

Dave
 
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quhines

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We just got back, and I can echo HICV Smokey Mountain is a great resort. The proximity to the Smoky Mountains National Park is great. The Gatlinburg Strip is about 1/2 Mile down the Hill from the property.

Now Gatlinburg Town Square by Exploria is next door. I have never stayed there but it is another option from RCI.
 

eschjw

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Now Gatlinburg Town Square by Exploria is next door. I have never stayed there but it is another option from RCI.
I forgot about Gatlinburg Town Square. We stayed there during ski season many years ago before the HICV Great Smokey Mountain was even built. It is not as nice as the top 4 resorts in Gatlinburg that I mentioned, but would be perfectly acceptable to me in a pinch. Gatlinburg Town Village is across the street, but the reviews do not look good. I previously referred to the road that these resorts are on as Airport Road, but it has been renamed Historic Nature Trail Road. While attending UT, I used to work in Gatlinburg during late spring and summer at a miniature golf course on that road, but it was removed before the Convention Center was constructed.
 

Talent312

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I forgot about Gatlinburg Town Square... I previously referred to the road that these resorts are on as Airport Road, but it has been renamed Historic Nature Trail Road.
I own at GTS, but only 'cuz it was a freebie and MF's are low (circa $700).
"Acceptable" describes it well. But I'd rather stay at the HICV myself.

.
 

sfwilshire

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Thank you! I think all the resorts mentioned above will work for us. I’ll enter a search for late Oct.
This October? Probably late for that, but I don't look for exchanges there, so I could be wrong. Early October will probably be readily available, but you won't see any leaf color.

I don't think the tourist levels have recovered 100% from the wildfires, so you might get lucky. Some of the resorts are still being rebuilt.

Sheila
 

LisaH

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This October? Probably late for that, but I don't look for exchanges there, so I could be wrong. Early October will probably be readily available, but you won't see any leaf color.

I don't think the tourist levels have recovered 100% from the wildfires, so you might get lucky. Some of the resorts are still being rebuilt.

Sheila
Yes. This Oct. I started an ongoing search at RCI. Hoping for a last minute cancellation :)
 

eschjw

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Yes. This Oct. I started an ongoing search at RCI. Hoping for a last minute cancellation :)
I found a three night weekday rental for late October last year on ebay at Wyndham Smokey Mountains. The cost was $375 for a 2 bedroom deluxe. I made the purchase in late September and cancelled my Gatlinburg motel reservation that would have cost almost the same including taxes.

The previous year I rented the HICV in October 2017 from Dave on the last minute TUG Forum.

The Wildfire of November 2017 did very little damage to the main areas of Gatlinburg. Over a third of Tree Tops was destroyed and a few motels in the wooded areas away from the main road were burned to the ground. Many chalets on the mountain were also damaged. Our friends who owned a chalet near the top of Ski Mountain road had to drive down over fallen burning leaves and braches to escape the fire storm.

Gatlinburg downtown has fully recovered, but lodging will be even harder to find. Good luck!
 
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