Cades Cove winter
December 29, 2022

The Smoky Mountains are a dream come true for outdoor enthusiasts all year long, even during the winter months! In fact, many folks consider this their favorite time of year to visit the Smokies as there are far fewer crowds on the hiking trails and the scenery is especially wonderful! As long as you have the proper gear for the conditions and don’t mind a little chilly weather, this can be a fantastic time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Here are the top 4 reasons why outdoor enthusiasts love visiting the Smoky Mountains in the winter:

1. Cross Country Skiing at Clingmans Dome

You’ll find that Clingmans Dome is a popular destination for cross country skiing during the winter months, as Clingmans Dome Road is closed to vehicular traffic from December 1st to March 31st. Due to the high elevation of this road, there is usually more snow here than any other area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! This means that you can go cross country skiing all along the 7 mile road and can head up to the observation tower at the summit! You might even run into some of the members of the Great Smoky Mountains Nordic Ski Patrol, a group of volunteers who patrol the park during the winter.

2. Magnificent Sight of Frozen Waterfalls

winter waterfall in the Smoky Mountains

Another one of the top reasons why outdoor enthusiasts love visiting the Smoky Mountains in the winter is to experience the rare and magnificent sight of a frozen waterfall! One of the easiest waterfalls to access is Laurel Falls, and the trail leading to the falls is just a few miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. The round-trip distance to the falls is 2.6 miles and a portion of the trail is paved, making it relatively easy to access. There are also several convenient roadside waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains, including the Sinks, Meigs Falls and Cliff Branch Falls.

3. Unique Photo Opportunities

Whether you are a professional photographer or a hiker who just enjoys taking cell phone pictures, you’ll love the unique photo opportunities of the Smoky Mountains in the winter! You’ll find that the landscapes are particularly stunning this time of year, with snow covered peaks and other magical scenes! To take advantage of some of the park’s best scenery, be sure to take the drive along Cades Cove Loop Road this winter!

4. Popular Hikes Without the Crowds

Alum Cave Trail in the Smoky Mountains

If you’ve been wanting to do the most popular hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park but dislike crowds, don’t miss the chance to hit the trails during the winter months! One hiking trail that is highly recommended during the winter is the Alum Cave Trail because of the spectacular scenery. During the warmer months of the year, water is usually seen dripping off the cliff from the bluff above the Alum Cave Trail. However, during the winter, these droplets turn into frozen icicles and provide a beautiful frozen spectacle!

Now that you know why outdoor enthusiasts love visiting the Smoky Mountains in the winter, don’t miss the chance to experience the magic of the Smokies during the winter months for yourself! Before planning your trip, be sure to check out our handy tips for visiting the Smoky Mountains in winter!