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Leaves begin changing colors in the Great Smoky Mountains

In the higher elevations, visitors were thrilled to see oranges, reds and yellows. An expert said the colors will likely peak around Halloween.

GATLINBURG, Tenn — It's beginning to look like fall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Leaves in the higher elevations of the mountains are turning red, orange, yellow and pink as temperatures cool off near Alum Cave, Chimney Tops and Newfound Gap. 

"It's really pretty and you can see the different colors," 10-year-old Julia Underwood said. "We saw orange and green and a little bit of pink."

University of Tennessee Forestry Professor Wayne Clatterbuck said it looks like a great year for vibrant fall foliage.

"Moisture should not be a problem. We're looking at cooler temperatures, cool nights, sort of warm days," he said. "Really, that outlook for the colors is really good this year."

Clatterbuck said leaves begin changing in the higher elevations first — usually at this time of year.

RELATED: Popular places to see fall foliage in the Great Smoky Mountains

"It's getting cooler up there and so it changes earlier up there," he said. "Down in the valley, it's a little warmer and takes a little longer to cool down."

As temperatures in the valley begin to drop, those leaves will start changing too. Clatterbuck said that will likely be around Halloween.

"Typically, here in East Tennessee, we used to say around the Alabama football weekend was sort of peak color," Clatterbuck said. "With climate variation and so forth, it's a little later than that."

He said East Tennessee is a special place to watch leaves change color.

"It's really amazing that you can come here and see colors for about four to five weeks, depending where what elevation you're at and where you are on the landscape," he said. "It gives you this wonderful coloration."

It's a wonderful view for visitors like William Myers to come see.

"Lots of people don't get a chance to see this," Myers said. "It's just a glorious sight to see."