winter things to do in the smoky mountains

10 Great Winter Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains

If you’ve visited the Smoky Mountains National Park area in the summer, spring or fall, then you know it can get a little crowded here. That’s why you should consider a getaway during the wintertime.

You’ll find fewer visitors and traffic, enjoy clearer views of the landscape, and even enjoy some sunny days in the crisp winter air.

smoky mountains winter

Try these ten winter things to do in the Smoky Mountains when you’re here on a romantic getaway:

Winter Hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Hitting the trails isn’t just a summertime activity in the Smokies. Just take a few precautions and be mindful of the snow and ice on the way, and you can enjoy relatively crowd-free hiking through these colder months. Watch out for falling icicles from above as well when trekking under cliffs.

Some excellent winter hiking trail options include Andrews Bald, Charlies Bunion, and Porters Creek. If you want to check out the snowfall in the mountains, visit this webpage for more information.

Cades Cove in the Winter

A favorite spot of the Park any time of the year, Cades Cove shows its winter side with snowy landscapes across its wide-open fields and preserved structures. Wildlife put in an appearance in different areas, especially white-tailed deer.

During this time, the Visitors’ Center is open only on the weekends, and the lone access road to the 11-mile loop is Laurel Creek, so plan accordingly.

smoky mountains winter

Winterfest Driving Tour of Lights

In Pigeon Forge, more than five million lights twinkle and dance in the Christmas spirit all around town. The town truly becomes a magical winter wonderland. The light spectacle starts on the north end of the main drag, the Parkway.

National Park Waterfalls

The breathtaking cascades in the Great Smoky Mountains NP are naturally favorite destinations during the warmer months. But you would be missing out on seeing some of them frozen, a gravity-defying phenomenon of sparkling snow and ice, especially at the higher elevations.

You can either hike or drive to the waterfalls, depending on your energy level and sense of adventure.

Rainbow Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Rainbow Falls at wintertime (photo courtesy of Michael Hicks, No changes were made to this photo)

The Incredible Christmas Place

If there’s any item related to Christmas, you’ll likely find it here in this nearly 30-year-old Pigeon Forge institution. The 43,000 square-foot holiday palace has everything you’ll need for the winter holiday, including lights, artificial trees, decorations, and personalized ornaments, a great gift-giving idea for family and friends.

Take a look at the intricate displays that enchant visitors of all ages.

Smoky Mountain Opry

Enjoy a wide-ranging variety of live entertainment at this two-hour program in Pigeon Forge. You’ll see singing, dancing, comedy, aerial acrobatics, and more with performers from the Smoky Mountains area, and the production is every bit as impressive as anything that you’ll see in a more sophisticated (and expensive) big city.

smoky mountains winter

A gourmet meal with snowfall viewing

When the weather starts to turn snowy, there’s nothing better than being inside and enjoying dinner, with a fine glass of wine and a fire blazing in the hearth. Why not reserve a table at one of the best romantic restaurants in the Smoky Mountains?

Ober Gatlinburg

The area’s only ski resort provides a great area for both skiing and snowboarding, with mostly intermediate terrain. A freestyle terrain park allows thrill-seekers to practice their jumps and flips, or everyone else to watch them.

Don’t forget to take on the tubing hill, where you can fly without leaving the ground, and take the aerial tramway for spectacular views at the top of the mountain.

ober gatlinburg tubing

Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community

All around Gatlinburg, you’ll find over 120 artisans creating beautiful handiwork from all types media. Some of the original artwork on display include painting, sculptures, photography, ceramics, textiles, furniture, and a whole lot more.

When you need a break from browsing and shopping, refuel at one of the town’s many restaurants.

Pure Relaxation

Of course, you’re on a mini-vacation. You can simply decompress from your busy life and sit in front of our fireplace in the library, savoring a piping hot coffee or glass of wine while you watch the snow fall outside a large picture window.

Relax after you’ve gone through the list above, or just make this your top priority for the weekend. Wintertime just might become your favorite time to visit.

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