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winter in the great smoky mountains national park

Top Tips for Visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Winter

While summer and fall are two of the most popular seasons to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the area has something to offer during all four seasons! Winter is a great time to visit the Smoky Mountains and see gorgeous views, like snow-capped mountains and frozen waterfalls, and be able to explore the park without huge crowds. For help planning your trip, we’ve gathered some useful tips for visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the winter.

What to Wear

winter clothers in a suitcaseOne question many people have when planning a winter vacation is, “What do I pack?” When you’re planning outfits for your trip, remember to pack layers. The weather in the Smoky Mountains can vary, especially within the park. Temperatures increase as elevation increases, so if you plan on going for a hike, you’ll want to be sure you’re bundled up! Here are some layers that would be good to wear while you’re exploring the park:

  • Thermal underwear
  • Leggings
  • Pants / jeans
  • Short-sleeve / long-sleeve shirts
  • Light jacket / cardigan
  • Winter coat
  • Gloves
  • Hat

You’ll also want to be sure you have a comfortable pair of shoes that are good for walking on ice and snow so you won’t slip while you’re in the mountains. All of these items come in handy while you’re exploring the national park, as well as spending time outside exploring the Smoky Mountain attractions!

Things to Do

snow along the alum cave trailThere are still plenty of fun things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in winter. One of the most popular activities is hiking. There are more than 850 miles of hiking trails in the park, and each mile has something to offer to visitors. Here are some of the most popular hikes to do during the winter:

  • Laurel Falls
  • Rainbow Falls
  • Alum Cave Trail
  • Porters Creek Trail
  • Gatlinburg Trail

Along these hikes, you can see everything from frozen waterfalls to impressive icicles. And, of course, you’ll have the opportunity to see snow-covered mountaintops.

Other things to do in the Smoky Mountains during winter include driving along Newfound Gap when it’s open, cross-country skiing on Clingmans Dome Road, fly fishing, camping and picnicking.

Road Closures

smoky mountain road in the snowOne important thing to keep in mind when visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is that all roads are subject to closure in the event of inclement weather. Some roads that close every winter season to vehicles are Clingmans Dome Road, Little Greenbrier Access Road and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. In 2020, the Cades Cove Loop Road is closed through February 29. Keep an eye out for Newfound Gap Road closures and other road closures if there’s snow or ice during your trip. For up-to-date info on road closures, check out Smokies Road Info.

Where to Stay

When you’re planning your visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the winter, you’re going to want a cozy place to stay! Choosing to stay in a Smoky Mountain cabin rental will put you just a short drive from the national park, making it easy to explore everything the area has to offer. Cabins come in all sizes, making them great for every occasion. Whether you’re visiting with your sweetheart, your family or a large group of friends, there’s a cabin for you. Cabin amenities that come in handy during the winter are a bubbling hot tub, a fireplace, and large glass windows so you can take in the view from the warmth of your cabin! You can find cabins with all kinds of amazing amenities, like full kitchens, game rooms, home theaters and indoor swimming pools!

If you need more convincing on why you should plan your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this winter, take a look at these photos of the Smoky Mountains in the winter!