Exploring Tennessee: Fall colors arrive in Tellico Plains and Cherohala Skyway

Cooler temperatures are helping East Tennessee’s fall colors pop!
Published: Oct. 20, 2023 at 5:04 PM EDT
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MONROE CO., Tenn. (WVLT) - Winding through Monroe County, you’ll find the Cherohala Skyway. It’s a hidden gem in the mountains and gives you several chances to see the colorful leaves.

“It traverses a great amount of elevation from Tellico Plains to Robinsville, North Carolina. The colors vary a lot depending on the elevation you are at, time of year aspect ratio. Great color variation right now and over the next couple of weeks, there will be really nice color,” said Jesse English, who is the recreation program manager for the U.S. Forest Service.

As you drive along the skyway, there are numerous overlooks to take in the scenery and sights along the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The difference between the Skyway and the Smokies is that you won’t need a parking pass to access the overlooks.

“It’s a public access and highway and so none of the overlooks charge fees, but we do charge for camping,” said English.

One of the popular places to stop is the Indian Boundary. It provides the perfect opportunity to spend time outside with the family.

“It’s an excellent place to come out and bring the family. We have a day-use area and also some areas that are open for camping year-round. They are much smaller than the normal campground. Our normal campground is something highly sought after,” said Christopher Joyner, who is the Public Affairs Officer for the Forest Service.

While there, you can also do some hiking, boating, fishing and of course, check out the leaves changing.

One of the communities you’ll pass through is Tellico Plains.

“Fall season in Tellico Plains is a beauty. It’s the weather here, all the storefronts and the shops in town, we depend on the weather and depend on people come and visit because we have the mountains, the river and friendly hospitality people,” said Mayor Marilyn Parker of Tellico Plains.

You can find fall colors and decor as you travel throughout the town and all of Monroe County.

The colors will only get better over the next few weeks as it slowly slides into the lower elevations, but there are other neat places to visit while you are there.

“If you have a family and are coming down to Monroe County, you can start in Sweetwater at The Lost Sea, then you can move over to Madisonville and also head over to Vonore and enjoy the fall foliage at Tellico Lake at Fort Loudon State Historic Park”, said Blaina Best who is Director of Tourism in Monroe County.

It’s an hour and a half drive from Knoxville to Tellico Plains. and once you are down there it’s a guarantee for a day full of fun.