Autumn in the Great Smoky Mountains

5 Days - Greenville, SC
Oct 15 - Oct 19, 2023
Activity Level
Skill Level
All Levels


Registration deadline: September 1, 2023

The mountains of western North Carolina are famous for their lush forests, fall color, broad views, rushing streams, and tumbling waterfalls.  The mountains tower as much as 5000 vertical feet above the river valleys below.  During this workshop, we will hit many beautiful locations, topped off with the rich scarlets and golds of autumn color if our timing is right. While we will hit the Blue Ridge Parkway and some less-crowded parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we will also visit quiet sites in the nearby Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests.


Views at sunset and sunrise from overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway when combined with wispy fog and fall color offer incredible photo opportunities.  In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, waterfalls on remote Big Creek and old buildings in the ghost town of Cataloochee offer endless close-up and medium-view shots.  Waterfalls and views in the national forests will complete the list of superlative locations.


The steep mountain slopes combined with high rainfall totals create numerous rushing streams and rivers.  Hard layers of bedrock create hundreds of waterfalls in the area.  We will visit multiple waterfalls in the Smokies and the adjoining national forests.  They will range from small cascades tucked into shady narrow ravines to massive 411-foot-tall Whitewater Falls.

Workshop includes:

  • Photographic instruction
  • 4 nights of single-occupancy lodging
  • Roundtrip transportation from Greenville, NC
  • Permits and park entrance fees
  • Water, snacks, two lunches, and a group dinner.


Please be aware that the shooting locations stated in this itinerary may change. Locations may be changed best based on light and weather.  We want to give you the best photo opportunities possible.


Day 1 – Sunday, October 15, 2023

  • Our day will start with a drive to the furthest point north in our workshop to begin winding our way through the area for the week.  Although we will find photo ops along the way, our first formal destination will be Big Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • We will take a hike on an old logging railroad grade to a deep scenic pool and a 6′ drop waterfall at Midnight Hole.  This is a 2.8-mile round-trip hike on a maintained trail.
  • Then it’s on to Mouse Creek Falls for more great scenic waterfalls amongst the dense forest.  This is a short 1.2-mile round-trip excursion.
  • Our day ends with dinner and check-in at our hotel in Waynesville.

Day 2Monday, October 16, 2023

  • Our morning will being with a sunrise on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Then we will continue exploring Looking Glass Falls, a 50-yard hike, and Moore Cove Falls, a 1.4-mile round trip hike in the Pisgah National Forest.
  • After a break for lunch and a short rest, we will head out for late afternoon through sunset along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Return to the hotel for dinner and sleep.

Day 3Tuesday, October 17, 2023

  • We will pack our luggage and check out of our hotel early in the morning to head to Cataloochee in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Here we will have opportunities to photograph old homestead buildings amongst meadows and dense woods.  We may even see some wildlife too.
  • As we continue to make our way to Franklin, we will stop along the way for other scenic opportunities.
  • After a break for lunch, we will hold our first critique before checking into our rooms.
  • Mid-afternoon we will grab our gear and depart for Rufus Morgan Falls, approximately a one-mile round trip hike,  stops at Mooney Falls, and Big Laurel Falls, a mile round trip excursion.
  • Back in town we will have dinner and spend our first night in Franklin.

Day 4–Wednesday, October 18, 2023

  • Our morning will start with a short .2-mile hike to Dry Falls in the Cullasaja Gorge
  • Then we will move on to Whitewater Falls another short jaunt hike of .4 miles.
  • Return to town for lunch followed by our second image critique.
  • We will depart for our afternoon shooting locations late afternoon to catch the sunset along the Blue Ridge Parkway (Richland Balsam area) if time allows.
  • Dinner and second night in Franklin.

Day 5 –Thursday, October 19, 2023

  • Our last morning will begin with a sunrise shoot at Wayah Bald.
  • Then we will return to the hotel, checkout, and drive back to Greenville.
  • The workshop will end early afternoon. Please don’t book return flights until after 4pm.

Physical Rating:  Moderate

Total hiking is about 8.2 miles, about ½ of which is hiking all the way to Mouse Creek Falls on Big Creek on an easy grade on a good trail.  It’s not necessary to hike all the way to Mouse Creek Falls to get good photos. Areas beside creeks and waterfalls can be rocky and slippery.  A trekking pole would be helpful. There are trailhead bathrooms at Big Creek, some Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks, Cataloochee, Dry Falls, Whitewater Falls, and Wayah Bald.  Weather can range from lows in the mid-30s at sunrise on the Blue Ridge Parkway to upper 70s in the valleys.  Rain is always possible.

Workshop Begins & Ends:

Hampton Inn
128 The Parkway
Greenville, SC 29615
Tel:  864-263-5555

The group will meet at the Hampton Inn near the Greenville-Sparton airport for departure on Sunday, October 15th.  A courtesy block has been secured for pre-night arrival on October 14th and for the day we return on Thursday, October 19th. These rooms are not included in your workshop fee.  Please make your reservations by contacting the hotel directly.  The hotel offers a courtesy airport shuttle between 8am-10pm.


Lodging During the Workshop

Best Western Smoky Mountain Inn – Waynesville 130 Shiloh Trail
Waynesville, NC 28786
Tel:   (828) 456-4402

Two nights of single occupancy lodging at the Best Western Smoky Mountain Inn is included in your workshop fee.




Hampton Inn Franklin
244 Cunningham Rd.
Franklin, NC 28734
Tel: 828-369-0600

Our last two nights of the workshop will find us based in Franklin, NC at the Hampton Inn.

Laurence Parent
Ken Brown
Photo Guide

If you are concerned about the possibility of canceling your trip we urge you to protect your workshop investment and purchase travel insurance.  We strongly recommend that you purchase a travel insurance plan with a “Cancel for Any Reason” option. Many guests have last-minute injuries, emergencies, or life changes that can disrupt their plans only to wish they had a way to recoup their lost expenses.


There are a number of reputable companies that provide Travel Insurance.  For a listing of providers, you can visit  AHPS has partnered with TravelEx Insurance Services over the years and has found them to be reputable and offer comprehensive plans at competitive prices.  For more information visit or contact them at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 03-0147.  Travel Insurance is underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company, NAIC #22276. W20


CANCELATION POLICY:  All cancelations must be in writing to

  • 91 days or more prior to the start of the workshop your deposit will be refunded less $250
  • 61-90 days your workshop fees will be refunded in the form of an AHPS Store Credit Voucher less the $250 administrative fee. The remainder of the fees paid can be used toward a future workshop within 18 months of cancelation. The voucher is good for 18 months.
  • 60 days or less until departure – No refund.


If we are able to fill your seat and the workshop runs at full enrollment we will refund your workshop fees less the $100 processing fee.


This cancellation policy applies in every situation and there will be no exceptions made for any reason. We will not issue refunds for cancelations due to illness or late arrivals due to travel delays.


Arizona Highways PhotoScapes reserves the right to cancel or change any workshop if our minimum enrollment is not met or if situations beyond our control arise that may create unsafe or undesirable travel conditions.  Any cancelation or postponement as a result of situations beyond our control, AHPS does not promise any refunds or credits.  If and when feasible, we will attempt to reschedule the workshop at a later date.  Alternatively, we may decide to issue you credit for a future workshop, or issue a refund, less any non-refundable deposits we have paid to workshop providers on your behalf.

Please note that AHPS is not liable for any additional participant expenses incurred such as airfare, hotel accommodations, or any other components booked outside of the workshop.


PAYMENT TERMS:  A minimum deposit is due at registration to reserve your space.  Please refer to the specific workshop for the required deposit.  Final payments are due 90 days prior to departure.  Approximately 15 days prior to the due date you will receive a reminder email that your balance is coming due.   If final payments are not received by 70 days prior to your workshop, your registration is subject to forfeiture including all fees paid to date.


If you are registering within 90 days of your workshop, full payment is due at the time of registration.