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rainbow in Gatlinburg on summer day

How to Beat the Heat During Summer in the Smoky Mountains

Temperatures can get hot during a Smoky Mountain summer! If you have plans to visit during one of the summer months, be prepared to handle the summer heat. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep cool in the Smoky Mountain area. To help you out, we’ve made a guide for how to beat the heat during summer in the Smoky Mountains.

Ways to Stay Cool While Hiking

Grotto Falls in the Great Smoky MountainsOne of the best ways to explore the Smoky Mountains is to go for a hike. Even though it’s cooler in the mountains than out on the town, temperatures still get hot! Don’t let the heat keep you from enjoying a rewarding hike in the Smokies, though. Here are some ways you can stay cool while hiking:

  • Hike early in the morning
  • Monitor the weather
  • Bring plenty of water and stay hydrated
  • Pack some salty snacks
  • Hike trails at higher elevations
  • Take frequent breaks and enjoy the scenery
  • Find trails that are mostly shaded
  • Hike trails that follow along streams

Some of the best hikes during summer in the Smoky Mountains are Grotto Falls, Alum Cave and Clingmans Dome.

Go for a Scenic Drive

roaring fork near a place of thousand dripsIf you want to avoid the heat in the Smoky Mountains altogether, go for a scenic drive! Scenic drives allow you to admire the beautiful Smoky Mountain scenery from the comfort of your car. Cades Cove is one of the most popular scenic drives in the summer. This 11-mile loop road takes you on a journey through the cove, where you’ll see historic structures, mountain views and wildlife. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is another popular scenic drive. The narrow, winding road is perfect for viewing wildflowers, rushing streams and historic buildings. It’s a 5.5-mile one-way loop road. For a less crowded scenic drive, try the Foothills Parkway or Rich Mountain Road! Check out these other undiscovered scenic drives.

Stay in a Cabin with a Pool

Another great way to beat the heat during summer in the Smoky Mountains is to stay in a cabin with a private pool! Not only will you keep cool by splashing in the pool, but it’s a great way to avoid the crowds. There is a wide selection of Smoky Mountain cabins with indoor pools that provide a private place for you to splash around, rain or shine. Some cabins have their own private outdoor pools, or provide access to a resort swimming pool. Depending on which cabin you choose, you’ll have other amenities to enjoy as well, like arcade games and pool tables, and home theaters.

Activities on the River

two tubes sitting on river bankEveryone loves cooling off in the river during the summer! You can wade in the water and relax or have an exciting adventure! We recommend going on a whitewater rafting trip with SMO Rafting. Take a thrilling ride on the Upper Pigeon River or a scenic float on the Lower Pigeon River — both trips have opportunities for you to get wet. You can also go tubing for a calmer time on the water. Bring your own tube, or visit one of the tubing outfitters like Smoky Mountain River Rat.

Indoor Things to Do

Of course, one sure way to beat the heat is to stay inside. But staying inside doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! The Smoky Mountain area is home to plenty of things to do indoors, from museums to an aquarium. See what it was like to be a passenger on the RMS Titanic at the Titanic Museum, or interact with your favorite aquatic animals at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies! You can also play mini golf at Crave Golf Club, or attend a dinner show in Pigeon Forge. Here is a list of other indoor attractions in the area:

  • Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg with flowers in frontHollywood Star Cars Museum
  • Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!
  • The Escape Game
  • Hollywood Wax Museum
  • LazerPort Fun Center
  • WonderWorks
  • Alcatraz East Crime Museum
  • Pigeon Forge Snow

Learn more about all the best attractions in the Smoky Mountains.

Weather During Summer in the Smoky Mountains

Like we said before, temperatures can get pretty hot during summer in the Smoky Mountains! This year, the Smokies are seeing even hotter temperatures than usual. On average, the high in the summer is 81 degrees in the Smoky Mountains, and 84 degrees in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. In summer of 2020, temperatures have already reached as high as 95 degrees in the mountains! You’ll want to be sure when you visit that you follow our guide to how to beat the heat in the Smoky Mountains.

To keep up to date with the weather in the Smoky Mountains, watch our weekly weather forecast videos from meteorologist, Paul Poteet!