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Great Smokey Mountains
Credit: matejphoto / Getyy Images

As fall rolls in and Mother Nature puts on a show of autumn colors, die-hard leaf peepers know there is one very special place to see the fall leaves: On a train ride through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad (GSMR) has been shuttling nature lovers through the park since 1988, and the fall foliage excursion is an annual favorite. Folks from across the South flock to the Smokies to see one of nature's greatest works.

The GSMR offers multiple trips, so you can choose your own adventure based on how much nature your family can handle. The Nantahala Gorge Excursion is a 4 ½ hour roundtrip through one of the crown jewels of the National Park. The train travels along the Little Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers across Fontana Lake and into the heart of the gorge, living up to its name by being truly gorgeous. There's even a picnic stopover to truly immerse yourself in nature.

Other leaf peeping options include a trip departing from Bryson City, North Carolina, and rolling through the mountain countryside lit up with fall color. This tour lands in the historic town of Dillsboro with enough time for a lunch and tour around the town's charming sites and sights.

Whichever journey you choose, if you want to ensure the best photo taking opportunity consider one of the railroad's open-air gondolas. While you'll undoubtedly want to take a lot of photos, be sure to soak in the moment too because these fall displays come but once a year and are worth savoring.


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