clingmans dome
January 31, 2023

When planning a vacation to Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, or Sevierville, you may be wondering, “When is the best time of year to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?” You’ll be happy to know that many people visit the park year-round to see the beautiful natural scenery. Even so, there may be more ideal times of year to do certain activities, and we want to help you decide the best time to visit based on what you’re looking for. Here is when you should visit if you want to see fall foliage or snow, or if you just want to get out and explore:

To See Fall Foliage

fall colors in the Smoky Mountains

As it gets colder in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the leaves start to change. This happens between mid-October through early November. The once green leaves go from green to fiery colors of red, orange, and yellow. If you want to get a great view of this scenery, head up to Clingmans Dome. It is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and in Tennessee overall, coming in at 6,643 feet. On clear days you can see views for up to 200 miles. When you look at all the treetops, it is almost as if they are on fire. Interested in learning more about the fall foliage? Check out these top things to know about fall colors in the Smoky Mountains.

To See Snow

When it gets even colder, the natural scenery changes again! Snow is definitely a beautiful sight to see in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, for it is a real life winter wonderland. Snow typically falls in the Great Smoky Mountains any time from October to April. The best places to see snow include the Alum Cave Trail. On this trail, you can see beautiful icicles hanging from the edge of the bluff. If you hike in the winter, be sure to dress warmly and wear insulated boots with good traction. While you’re visiting the park, keep in mind that some roads may shut down unexpectedly due to hazardous conditions. However, It doesn’t have to put a damper on your plans! You just have to stay up to date on the road closures!

To Hike and Explore

hikers walking through the Smokies

Hiking is one of the most popular ways to explore the natural scenery in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The area is jam packed with over 800 miles of trails. Therefore, it does not matter how experienced of a hiker you are because you will definitely find a route that’s right for you. Even though hiking is a popular activity in the Great Smoky Mountains year round, one of the best times to do so is in the fall. This is partly because there is little rain. In fact, it is the driest season in the area. Additionally, the temperatures in the fall tend to be milder than those of the other seasons. If you’re hoping for a less crowded hike, your best bet is to hike in the winter. If you’re hoping to spot wildflowers, visit in the spring and summer. There is something to offer during every season in the Smokies! When you go on a hike, be sure to bring your camera. Taking photos of the natural scenery will allow you to remember this fun trip forever.

Now that you know some answers to the question, “When is the best time of year to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?,” it’s time to start planning your next trip! Explore our operating hours and seasons to see what areas of the park are open and closed throughout the year!