Smoky Mountains in September: Events in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge (2023)

graphic for september in the smoky mountains

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September is a great time to visit the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. Crowds from the summer months are nearly gone now that the kids are back in school. Plus, it’s still warm enough to enjoy the great outdoors, 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 the Clingmans Dome observation tower and the Blue Ridge Parkway as well – both located on the North Carolina side of the Smokies.

Wildlife like black bears, deer and wild turkey are everywhere.

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Is September a good time to visit the Smoky Mountains?

September can be a great time to visit the Smokies. Notably, September is a time of transition, where summer draws to an end and fall is about to begin. Although September is a little early to see the fall foliage take bloom, many folks will start thinking about the best time to come visit.

So if you’re hoping to see some fall foliage, be sure to check out our interactive fall map. Generally, peak color doesn’t happen until mid-to-late October or even early November.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider a stop at the Sugarlands Visitor Center before heading out on any trails for a map and directions.

tunnel at dollywood during harvest festival in the fall
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival is a fan-favorite event (photo by Daniel Munson/

Fall events in September in the Smoky Mountains

Notably, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival and LumiNights celebration begins in mid-September. During this festival, thousands of pumpkins will be on display throughout the park as well as seasonal treats crafted by Dollywood chefs.

You might also want to add other popular downtown Gatlinburg attractions on your list of things to do. For example, Anakeesta and Ober Mountain (formerly Ober Gatlinburg) also have fall celebrations this time of year.

Last but not least, classic car lovers might want to check out the fall Rod Run car show in Pigeon Forge which usually takes place in September.

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.

Weather in the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg in September

Weather conditions in September are generally mild.

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

However, higher 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.

Also, afternoon thunderstorms are somewhat common during this time of year with an average monthly precipitation of about 3 inches, according to the National Park Service.

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/

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

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

lawn chairs in a parking lot in front of a car for sale
Lawn chairs are another familiar site during area car show weekends (photo by Morgan Overholt/

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

Crowd sizes aren’t typically too large in the Smokies in September. That being said, weekend crowds – especially during the Rod Run car show and Labor Day – 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 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. Check out the calendar above for dates and special events.

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.

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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