The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States! It has some of the best hiking, fishing and wildlife viewing you'll find in the U.S. We're sharing the inside scoop with you so you can plan your next trip to the Smokies.
Your Guide to Visiting the Smoky Mountains National Park in the Winter
- December 31, 2018
If you’re imagining hikes to frozen waterfalls or pictures with snow covered mountains as the backdrop, winter may be the perfect time for you to visit the Smokies! If you’ve never visited or have been before, but in a different season, you may not know exactly what to expect. To help you plan for your winter getaway, we have created a guide to visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the winter.
1. What to Pack
The average high for this season in the Smokies is 45°F and the low is 22°F, so you’ll want to pack plenty of warm clothes to wear. Layers are always a great idea because even though it’s cold, you can still break a sweat if you plan on hiking. Hiking requires a lot of energy and you’ll probably be burning quite a few calories. So, you should also bring some snacks and enough water to last for the entire hike and keep you energized. Just be sure that you don’t leave trash or leftover food anywhere, because it could attract wildlife.
2. Where to Hike
There are over 850 miles of hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains, however, some are better than others at certain times of the year. Waterfall hikes like the Laurel Falls Trail are gorgeous during the winter! You’ll feel like you’re in a winter wonderland as you look up at the half-frozen, 80-foot falls. The hike to the falls is arguably just as beautiful, with mountain views peeking through the bare trees. Another great place to hike during the winter months is Porters Creek. This trail is rich in history and is conveniently situated at a lower elevation, making it is less likely to be closed off due to snow.
3. What Roads Are Open
Scenic drives are a great thing to do during any season as long as the roads are in good condition to be driven on. There are several primary roads that are open year round as long as the weather permits. These roads include US-441 (Newfound Gap Road), Little River Road, and the Cades Cove Loop Road. You can enjoy the stunning mountain views as you go along your way, and there are lots of spots where you can pull over to take pictures.
4. Where Pets are Allowed
Dogs are only allowed on 2 trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of which is the Gatlinburg Trail. This 1.9-mile trail travels one-way from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to the outskirts of the city of Gatlinburg. You can also bring your pet to picnic areas, and along roads. Just remember to keep your furry friend on a leash not exceeding 6 feet in length at all times.
Now you know a little more about what to expect when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the winter. If you’re planning on visiting in a different season, you should read up on what to expect from the weather year-round to be sure the conditions are ideal for your trip.