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When Should You Visit the Smoky Mountains Based on What You Want to See?

Millions of visitors make their way to the Smoky Mountains each winter and for good reason. The Smoky Mountains have a little bit of something for everyone! Our mountainous home is one full of love and adventure that we relish sharing with guests from all over the world. But, when is the best time to visit the Smoky Mountains? Well, that depends on what you’re interested in exploring! Here is when you should visit the Smoky Mountains based on what you want to see:

When to Visit for a Color Rush

Smoky Mountains in the fallOne of the biggest draws of the Smoky Mountains is the blanket of yellows, oranges and reds that swaddle you in a cozy comfort come each fall. Spectacular views straight from a postcard are at every turn in the Smoky Mountains! Leaves begin changing colors at higher elevations of the Smoky Mountains as early as mid-September while lesser elevations typically see changes between mid-October and early November. Enjoy this one-of-a-kind scenery with a scenic drive through the Smokies or a hike in the national park that shows off the best of the fall foliage.

When to Visit the National Park

Fall is a popular time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park because of the spectacular scenery full of bright colors. Because of that, the national park tends to be crowded throughout autumn. If you’re looking to visit the national park with less of a crowd, we recommend visiting in the winter before flowers and vegetation begin to bloom. The months of January and February are typically the least busiest of the year in the national park, meaning you’re less likely to have trouble finding parking or have to sit in traffic. All hiking trails in the national park are open year-round although some may close temporarily due to inclement weather. Spring and summer visits to the national park tend to have more visitors but you can’t beat all the gorgeous green swaths of trees and vegetation to go along with the unique wildlife you’ll find!

When to Visit for a Winter Wonderland

The Island in Pigeon Forge at WinterfestYou may not know it, but the Smoky Mountains are Santa’s second favorite place, just behind the North Pole! The Smoky Mountains transform into a winter wonderland full of your favorite things about the holiday season each winter. Countless holiday light displays, parades and of course plenty of snow make the Smokies a must-visit in the winter. Winterfest at The Island in Pigeon Forge features more than 5 million twinkling lights and special Christmas displays. Santa makes sure to attend Winterfest each year to get his naughty or nice list in order! Don’t forget to visit Ober Mountain where all sorts of snow activities like skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing provide plenty of awesome family memories.

When to Visit for Fewer Crowds

The Smoky Mountains are one of the most popular vacation destinations for families from across the country. If you’re looking to skip the big crowds, we suggest you visit the Smoky Mountains outside of the peak seasons. After the holidays and before spring break begins (January to April) tends to be a great time to visit to skip the rush. Once spring break — and later summer vacation — begins for students and families, the Smoky Mountains see an increase in visitors. Early in the fall before the leaves fully change over (September through mid-October) is another awesome time to visit that tends to have fewer guests.

Are you now chomping at the bit to visit the Smoky Mountains? We get it! No matter when you plan to visit, make sure to explore our events calendar. You’ll find all sorts of fun events to attend that are true Smoky Mountain staples!