Don’t let the cold weather dampen your mood! Here in this Smoky Mountains vacation guide we give you our list of the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains in winter.
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 what this season is all about.
Searching for the perfect winter adventure in the Smoky Mountains? You’ve come to the right place!
Check out our list of the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains in winter that are sure to make your stay one for the books! From skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing to visiting historical sites, exploring nature trails, and dining at local restaurants – there’s something for everyone!
What Are The Winters 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.
Driving Through Smoky Mountains In Winter
Winter driving in the Smoky Mountains 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 Smokies Road Info Twitter account. You can also check out the Nationa Park Service website for more info on seasonal road closures.
Best Things To Do In the 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.
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.
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.
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.
Immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature while reveling in a range of premium amenities. Cozy fireplaces, lavish furniture and countless entertainment options – it's an unforgettable experience! And don't forget to admire those stunning views that will make you never want to leave!
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.
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.
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.
Smoky Mountains 7-Day Itinerary
I understand how difficult it can be to plan a trip, especially if it’s your first time going. That’s why I created this 7-day itinerary for the Smoky Mountains. It outlines all of the best places to go in the area and comes with insider tips that will save you a lot of stress–trust me, they saved me when I was planning my own trip!
Our 7-day itinerary takes you to the best places in the Smoky Mountains.
You’ll get to see all the best sights and attractions with driving directions
The itinerary is designed to show you the most scenic routes.
Packing Checklist for every season.
You’ll have everything you need to make the most of your trip.
Here’s a quick overview of our Smoky Mountains 7-Day Itinerary.
Day 1: Cades Cove Loop
Day 2: Rich Mountain Road
Day 3: Cataloochee Valley
Day 4: Newfound Gap Road
Day 5: Roaring Fork Motor Trail
Day 6: Little River Road
Day6: Foothills Parkway
Get Our FREE Winter Packing Checklist For The Smokies!