Fall colors mean big tourism season in the Smokies

Fall colors mean big tourism season in the Smokies

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Tourism officials are expecting a bounce-back year for fall leaf season. Tourism officials are expecting a bounce-back year for fall leaf season.
The first signs of fall colors are already apparent. Many tourists are already making their way to the Smokies to capture the view ahead of schedule. The first signs of fall colors are already apparent. Many tourists are already making their way to the Smokies to capture the view ahead of schedule.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

GATLINBURG (WATE) - The first day of fall is right around the corner, and a big fall tourism season is expected in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A big part of that is due to the fall foliage.

Park and tourism officials are expecting a bounce-back year for fall leaf season.

The first signs of fall colors are already apparent. Many tourists are already making their way to the park to capture the view ahead of schedule.
   
"We've seen some trees that are starting to turn, and so we know it's coming," said Loranie Lalora, a tourist from Illinois.

"We're already starting to see some splashes of color change across the park," said park spokesperson Dana Soehn.

The National Park Service says some trees are starting to change early this season. Yellows and reds are noticeable in lower elevations.  The park service expects the fall color display to peak in mid-October.
     
East Tennessee has been plagued by larger-than-average rainfall totals this year, but for leaf watchers that's a good thing, as more rainfall means a better fall color season.

"With all of that moisture, the leaves are hanging tight to the trees right now. So they're not dropping them early, and hopefully will stay on and we'll see that brilliant color change next month."

Johnny Baker with Ole Smokey Tennessee Moonshine says he expects October to the busiest month at his distillery.

"It's not just the leaf change," said Baker. "That's a huge part in the mountains, but we have an arts and crafts function in October and a lot of other functions."

The Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau says 34 percent of the area's yearly visitors arrive in the fall, which is the most of any season.

"We had a great summer, lots of water, we've our cool nights and our sunny days which is a perfect setup for fall leaves," said bureau spokesperson Marci Claude.

The park service says the peak fall color season will last until mid-November.

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