The Great Smoky Mountains never run out of beauty and are always ready to welcome everyone all year round. After the busier seasons of spring, summer, and fall, now comes Winter. So get your winter clothes ready because we’re about to explore the best things to do in Smoky Mountains in Winter.
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What is winter like in the Smoky Mountains?
Winter in the Smokies starts mid-November through February and is a bit fickle when it comes to the weather. Generally, the weather in the Smokies during the winter is moderate, some days are sunny with high temperatures of 65° Fahrenheit. On the other hand, Snow or extreme weather conditions can occur on higher elevations. About half of the days in the winter have temperatures that are equal to or more than 50 degrees.
Most nights have a lower temperature at or below freezing point and can go as low as -20°F at high elevation. If you enjoy the snow, make sure you go in the months of January and February as these are the times when you will most likely find snow on the mountains especially on the higher ones.
Are the Smoky Mountains good in the winter?
Winter driving in the Smokies is possible but it comes with a caution. The 33-mile-long Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) is the main automobile route through Great Smoky Mountains National Park which at its highest point presents lower temperature than in Cherokee or Gatlinburg. Aside from this, the higher elevations receive considerably more precipitation resulting in more snow.
The combination of lower temperature and high precipitation results in periods of dangerous driving conditions. Due to this fact, the Park Service imposes certain restrictions on driving in the winter with the Newfound Gap being temporarily closed 15-20 times during winter. For your safety, it’s best to reduce your speed when driving through snow-covered roads and leave extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
To get updates about the current weather conditions or road closure please call (865) 436-1200 or check Twitter at twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps. You can also check out their website at nps.gov/grsm for more info on seasonal road closures.
What is there to do in the Great Smoky Mountains in Winter?
There are plenty of ways to experience and enjoy winter in the Smokies. It is the time where the deciduous trees have shed their leaves and make everything visible for the people to enjoy. It’s also the perfect place to spend the holidays with the family. If you still haven’t planned out your winter itinerary, here are the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains in winter.
Hiking in the smokies is definitely not exclusive during the summer, you’ll also have the chance to experience the different kinds of charm the Smokies has to offer during the winter months. There is plenty of snow-dusted hiking trails leading to many beautiful frozen waterfalls and take you to great vantage points wherein you can view the snow-covered mountains. Some of the best trails to hike during the winter are Andrews Bald trail, Rainbow Falls Trail, Charlies Bunion, and Porters Creek. Just remember to take precautions when hiking in the Smokies, be aware of ice and snow around and look out for falling icicles when you’re hiking under a cliff. Another perk of hiking during the winter is you won’t have to navigate through the large crowds which are a frequent scenario during the spring or summer months.
Winterfest has become one of the most anticipated celebrations in the Smokies. Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville are decorated with more than 5 million twinkling Christmas lights that continue to delight everyone even after the Holiday season is over. Whether you choose to drive by the county or take a trolley ride down the parkways, either way, you’ll get the chance to enjoy a feast for your eyes that is the magical Smoky Mountains Winterfest lights.
Enjoy exciting winter sports and activities at Tennessee’s #1 skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing destination none other than Ober Gatlinburg.
Snow Tubing is a fun activity for the whole family and is offered 90 minutes for each tubing session. After sliding down the snowy slope don’t forget to experience their Magic Carpet escalator system that takes you back to the top hassle-free. Be sure to purchase tickets in Ober Gatlinburg in advance because these tickets are in high demand.
Snowboarding and Skiing are other popular activities to do in Ober Gatlinburg offering mostly intermediate terrains. There are several ticket options available starting from a full day session up to tickets that are good for 3 days. On average, ski slopes open early to mid-December and close in early to mid-March. Take note that opening and closing dates are not always the same each year, it is always based on Mother Nature y’all.
Guided Tour Through The Smokies
If you don’t want to think about where to go or where to stay in the great smoky mountains, a guided tour is perfect for you. Unlike the other seasons, winter can be a bit of a challenge with all the ice and snow that awaits you along the way. That’s why it’s better to get yourself into guided tours through the smokies, thanks to expert guides you’ll be able to see and experience all the best spots found in the Smoky Mountains.
Visit The Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community
Don’t miss the chance to experience the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community that is considered to be the largest independent artisans in North America and has been designated in the 8-mile loop Gatlinburg, TN. You can see and even join these artisans in making various traditional arts and crafts that celebrate the heritage of the Appalachian culture. From pottery, weaving, and sewing to painting and carving there is always something for everyone. You’ll also have the opportunity to make your own custom crafts with the guidance of these incredible artisans.
The craftsmanship extends to showcase the beautiful art of cooking and all the way to the art of music that also celebrates the rich Appalachian history.
Enjoy Local Dining Experience
When it starts to get too snowy outdoors it’s now time to turn your attention to what you can do indoors. One of the best ways to enjoy winter in the Smokies is by checking out their local dining scene. From Family-style meals that comfort you through the icy weather to Smoky mountain restaurants that offer gourmet meals that will keep you coming back for more.
See The Wildlife
During winter the trees drop their leaves allowing us to see what lies behind them. Winter in the smokies is the perfect chance for your to watch some wildlife such as white-tailed deer, elk, coyote, bobcat, red and gray fox, and Wild Turkey. Black bears are not on the list since most of them will be in their dens from early December into March.
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