Smoky Mountains in September: Events in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge [2023]

Smoky Mountains in September

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September is a great time to visit the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. Crowds from the summer months are gone now that the kids are back in school. And it’s still warm enough to partake in outdoor activities, but just cool enough to be comfortable.

In and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park scenic drives like Cades Cove Loop Road, Newfound Gap Road, the Foothills Parkway and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail await.

You may also want to check out Clingmans Dome Road and the Blue Ridge Parkway as well – both located on the North Carolina side of the Smokies.

And wildlife – like black bears, deer and wild turkey – are everywhere.

Also, be sure to check out popular landmarks in the park like the Clingmans Dome observation tower, Baskin Creek Falls, Laurel Falls, and Chimney Tops.

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the clingmans dome tower
The tower at Clingmans Dome is a popular tourist destination in the Smokies (photo by Bernard Hardman/

The scenic beauty in these areas of the park are truly a sight to behold.

Be sure to stop at the Sugarlands Visitor Center before heading out on any trails for a map and directions. Skipping this step is a great way to become yet another unsolved disappearance.

Just don’t expect to see many fall colors. While September marks the official start of the fall season, leaves don’t begin to turn until early October. And peak color doesn’t happen until mid-to-late October or even early November.

The popular Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival begins in mid-September, as does the Dollywood Harvest Festival and Luminights celebration.

You might also want to add Anakeesta and Ober Gatlinburg to your to-do list.

And of course, don’t forget about the Sevier County Fair, which usually kicks off in late August and continues into early September.

Classic car lovers might want to check out the fall Rod Run event which usually takes place in September. See below for exact dates.

If you’re looking for a few of our suggestions for the best places and best activities in town in September, check out our events calendar below.

guests sitting on the dollywood tram in the rain
Heavy rain can be expected in the afternoons throughout the summer months Smoky Mountains. Pictured: Dollywood guests ride the parking tram in the middle of a downpour (photo by Daniel Munson/

Weather in the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg in September

Weather conditions in September are mostly mild.

Expect mostly warm days with a bit of cooler weather sneaking in towards the end of the month. Expect average temperatures in the low 80s in the lower elevations. And average lows in the mid-50s.

However, high elevations, like Mount LeConte – the third highest point in the Smokies – tend to be much cooler – with average highs in the low 60s and average lows in the mid-40s.

Afternoon thunderstorms are common.

woman stands at skylift park in gatlinburg
Pack mostly summer clothes with at least one backup rain poncho and one jacket or hoodie for the higher altitudes and unexpected temperature drops. Pictured: A woman poses for the camera at SkyLift Park in Gatlinburg, TN (photo by James Overholt/

What should you wear in the Smoky Mountains in September?

Pack a variety of clothing so you’ll be prepared for both summer and fall weather.

T-shirts, shorts, long pants, jackets and comfortable shoes are recommended.

And don’t forget to pack a rain poncho or umbrella for those afternoon downpours.

A classic hot rod makes its way down the parkway
A beautiful hot rod makes its way down the Parkway in Pigeon Forge during Rod Run (photo by Daniel Munson/

How busy is Gatlinburg in September? Crowd sizes in the Smokies

Crowd sizes aren’t typically too large in the Smokies in September. But weekend crowds – especially Rod Run and Labor Day crowds – can cause issues.

While Rod Run is a blast for hot rod and classic car enthusiasts, it tends to cause severe traffic congestion. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

If you prefer fewer crowds you may even want to avoid Rod Run week altogether.

Labor Day in the Smoky Mountains

Labor Day weekend is also a big event in the Smokies.

Expect sales at local shopping centers like Tanger Outlets and Labor Day-themed events throughout the area.

What do you think is the best time of year to visit the Smoky Mountains? Are you planning a trip in the month of September? Let us know in the comments below.

And if you own or operate a local attraction in the Smokies and wish to add your event to the calendar, please contact our editorial team here.

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Kimberly Grayson

Kimberly Grayson is a freelance virtual assistant and public relations manager for LLC.

7 thoughts on “Smoky Mountains in September: Events in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge [2023]”

  1. Want to visit Gatlinburg in Sept forst week.what events will be going on I have never been.I would also like be near ever THING like rent cabin
    Can you duggest anything

  2. In case you can,t find a cabin you want, we like to stay at Johnson,s Inn ,one short block off the main street downtown easy to walk to everything downtown ,older motel but has been updated. Great location,don,t have to pay to park to go downtown. Close to Anakeesta which is pretty nice attraction .

  3. Ripley’s website says “ALL school employees” – so if the employer is a school, it should qualify, but you may want to call Ripley’s to confirm.

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