The Great Smoky Mountains are beautiful all year long, but once winter descends on Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, they become even more alluring. The high peaks are hidden by glistening snowfall. Christmas lights illuminate seasonal festivities and storefront windows through the winter months. 

The local attractions also give fun activities a wintry twist. The Festival of Trees makes the region feel festive. And the weather is suitable for spending time in a cabin, cuddling up in front of a roaring fire, or unwinding in a hot tub at night. For vacations in the Smokys, winter is the ideal season for couples, families, groups, and friends.

However, planning and conducting careful research will help you enjoy your Smoky Mountain trip a lot more memorable.

Great Smoky Mountains
Great Smoky Mountains

Tips for the Smoky Mountains

So, in light of this, here are a few tips for an unforgettable winter vacation to the smoky mountains.

Dress appropriately

One of the best tips anyone can give you for your winter trip to the Smoky Mountains is to pack for all possible winter weather conditions. After all, your trench coat, scarf, or high boots won’t be able to withstand the winter on their own. Your mantra should be to layer, layer, and layer some more. 

Of course, you can remove extra clothes if you feel warm. However, it’s ultimately better to overpack your luggage with extra winter clothes than to save space and regret it later.

Choose the right cabin

We should never underestimate the importance of suitable accommodations, especially when traveling to a place like the Smoky Mountains. It can make your break your vacation. So, take some time to browse and choose the ideal place to stay warm inside. Many Smoky Mountain cabins provide fireplaces that help you keep warm during the coldest of winter conditions. Some even have hot water pools and tubs. So do your research and book accordingly.

Participate in winter-only activities 

Are you suggesting we venture outside when the air is crisp, snow-covered mountain tops are completely white, evergreens abound in the national park, and holiday light displays adorn the cities? Of course, you may need to wear a scarf or jacket. But it will be worth it to attend seasonal activities, have fun at snowy attractions, and go on a winter stroll in the Smoky Mountains’ natural wonderland.

Having said that, the Smoky Mountains are home to numerous sites and activities only available during winter. Snow tubing, snowboarding, and skiing are available at Ober Gatlinburg this time of year when the slopes are open. A winter vacation to the Smoky Mountains also means that you’ll be able to participate in the Winterfest that takes place during this time of the year.

It is excellent for visitors who want to drive around and take in all the incredible light shows. You can also embark on a winter hike or take in Winterfest activities at well-known sites like SkyLift Park or Anakeesta. Ultimately, the sky is the limit as far as winter activities in the Smoky Mountains are concerned.

Research trail and road closures in advance

Researching road and trail closures are among the most crucial things you can do when visiting the Smoky Mountains in winter. Therefore, you should examine the roads and trails to ensure you do whatever is needed to change your travel dates, accommodations, etc.

You should always verify the conditions of the roads to determine whether you can enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on your planned travel date. Just be aware before you go because several normally-open routes are closed during the winter.

Follow winter driving best practices

Consider utilizing snow chains or driving a vehicle that can handle snowy weather, especially if the way to your lodge is full of icy and uneven roads. This extra traction is generally necessary for winter because many local roads are treacherously steep and winding.

Secondly, you can get stranded anytime or anywhere because the winter weather is unpredictable. So, to ensure your safety no matter what happens, keep a flashlight and batteries, windshield scraper, first-aid kit, and extra blankets in your vehicle’s trunk. 

Lastly, being patient and slowly driving to your cabin or lodge is the best advice for navigating winter weather and wintertime traffic! If you are cruising too fast, icy roads during twists and turns might take you by surprise. So, instead of rushing, shift into first gear, take your time in the stunning landscape, and enjoy a safe trip to the Smoky Mountains. 

Capture the amazing scenery

The Smoky Mountains are undoubtedly impressive when covered with layers of snow. So, ensure that you pack a high-quality camera to snap some pictures of the incredible scenery this vacation spot has to offer. 

The terrace of your cabin will offer an excellent vantage point to photograph the snow-capped Smokys in all of their splendor. You’ll have the ideal holiday card for next year if you can capture the entire family in a lovely picture with the mountains in the background.

Prepare some winter treats

Most of the time, hot food is something that makes your winter vacation more enjoyable. After all, nothing is more enticing than warm comfort food in the colder months, such as French breakfast, pancakes, or grilled cheese and tomato soup

You can whip up all your favorite wintertime recipes, especially if your lodge or cabin has a fully equipped kitchen. And the best part is that most of them do. A warm mug of hot chocolate is the best beverage while visiting the Smokys on a cold winter’s night. Remember to pack some marshmallows, too, for the bonfire.


This wraps up our list of tips to help you plan a winter vacation to the Smoky Mountains. We hope they will allow you to enjoy your vacation fully without worrying about being stuck in a snowy nightmare. So, don’t hide away inside your home this winter. Instead, make this winter season one to remember with a memorable trip to the Great Smoky Mountains today.

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