Troll Bridge - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

10 Best Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains in November

The Great Smoky Mountains are truly a sight to behold no matter the time of year that you visit. But, the Smoky Mountains in November are something extra special, and there’s always plenty going on during the late fall and early winter.

If you’re looking for scenic drives, beautiful mountain views, and plenty of fun activities, the Smokies have you covered during a November visit.

November is far from the busiest month of the year in the Smokies, and you’ll find it may just be the perfect time to visit this mountain wonderland. You can escape the hustle and bustle of the summer crowds and have some of the Smokies’ hidden gems all to yourself.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park | photo via @trademark_studios

What to Expect When You Visit the Smokies in November

One of the best things about a November visit to the Smokies — whether you’re visiting Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Asheville, Sevierville, or elsewhere — is the beauty of the Smokies themselves.

Weekends in early November are an excellent time to visit because the beautiful fall foliage everyone comes for tends to linger a little bit.

Getting to Know Smoky Mountain Weather

If you’re planning a visit, one of the top questions on your mind may be, “What’s the weather like?” The simple answer is cool but mostly pleasant. In most years, daytime temperatures range from around 45 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. At nighttime, temperatures tend to dip into the 20s and 30s.

You may also wonder if there is snow in November in the Smoky Mountains. Sometimes, yes.

Usually, temperatures are too warm for snow, but occasional cold fronts have brought winter weather to the region earlier than expected. If you visit Clingmans Dome, Newfound Gap, and some other high mountain spots, you are more likely to find some snow.

Your best bet is to dress for the weather. If you dress in layers, you can always peel them off if the weather warms up. Now that you’re prepped for the weather, read on to find some of the best November Smoky Mountain activities.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Gatlinburg, Tennessee | photo via

10 Fun Activities to Do in the Smoky Mountain in November

See an Awesome Collection of Lights

If you love Christmas and Christmas lights, you’re in for a treat if you visit the Smokies in November.

Gatlinburg absolutely pops with color during the holidays as 3 million LED lights transform the city into the ultimate Christmas wonderland. Everywhere you look, you’ll see lit-up Christmas trees and animal light displays of bears, deer, and more.

One of the best ways to experience this light extravaganza is to hitch a ride on the Trolley Ride of Lights. It goes right through the heart of downtown Gatlinburg, and you’ll see one-of-a-kind light displays through the end of December.

Experience Ober Gatlinburg’s Snow Tubing

Ober Gatlinburg is a great place to visit for snowboarding and skiing. If you’re visiting the Smokies in November, though, you have to try snow tubing.

What is snow tubing? Picture the tubes that you float on down a lazy river in the summer. Now, picture riding one of those down a snowy hill. Sounds like a blast, right?

You don’t need prior experience to enjoy this fun winter activity. Just remember to dress warmly. All you need to do is hop on a snow tube, and ride it down the hill. When you’re done, you can take a lift back to the top, and get back in line to go again.

While you’re there, head to Ober Gatlinburg’s indoor ice rink for some skating fun. It’s a great way to celebrate the winter season, and you can warm up with a cup of hot chocolate when you’re all done.

Get Into the Holiday Spirit at the Festival of Trees

A Christmas tree is a sure sign that winter is here, and for more than 40 years, Gatlinburg has helped visitors get into the holiday spirit with its annual Festival of Trees.

These aren’t just any old Christmas trees either. These are elaborately decorated works of art that come in all shapes and sizes. You can even get your picture taken with St. Nick himself!

Attend an Awesome Arts and Crafts Show

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind, last-minute Christmas gift for a special someone, this is one show you don’t want to miss. Admission to the Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Show is free, and you’ll get to see some truly unique items made by members of the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community.

Whether you’re hunting for scented candles, pottery, jewelry, or paintings, you’ll find all that and so much more at this big event.

Gatlinburg Festival of Trees - Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Gatlinburg Festival of Trees | photo via @santaoncallknox

Have a Unique Thanksgiving Meal

Visiting the Smokies feels special any time that you visit, but what could be better than having your Thanksgiving meal with the Smoky Mountains as a backdrop?

If you happen to be in the Smoky Mountains in November, one of the best ways to have a memorable experience is to spend Thanksgiving there.

There are plenty of great restaurants in the Smokies that are well worth the trip. If you’re staying in a cabin, you can find out which restaurants are open on Thanksgiving, get all the food that you need, and have your feast with one of the best views ever.

Celebrate Thanksgiving With Fireworks

After you’ve stuffed yourself with turkey, stuffing, taters, and gravy, head to Pigeon Forge for a truly unique fireworks display. The Titanic Museum Attraction typically honors the passengers and crew of the famed ocean liner with a musical tribute and spectacular fireworks.

So, while you let your stomach settle after a great meal, let your eyes marvel at the dazzling display of lights as music plays in the background.

Warm Up at Gatlinburg’s Chili Cookoff

If you’re looking to warm up and have some fun during your Smokies visit, you can do both at the Gatlinburg Winter Magic Kickoff and Chili Cookoff, which is usually held in early November.

This event has been going strong for more than 30 years, and hungry visitors can try all kinds of mouthwatering chili. Delight your taste buds with homemade recipes ranging from mild to moderately spicy to extra hot.

As you enjoy your chili and warm up, you can enjoy free live entertainment during the event. Admission to the event is free, but chili-tasting tickets are a moderate fee.

Troll Bridge - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Troll Bridge – Great Smoky Mountains National Park | photo via @real_joshua_m

Take a Hike in the Smokies

As any frequent visitor of the Smokies will tell you, there are lots of great hiking trails to explore during the fall season and the winter season.

Remember that it’s important to dress warmly if you’re going on a hike. Also, you’ll want to check conditions beforehand, and let people know where you’re going to be. But where should you head to? Try a few of our favorite trails:

  • The Laurel Falls Trail is a 1.3-mile round trip and has an 80-foot cascade and wooden footbridge at the end of it.
  • Porters Creek is considered one of the best hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s easy to get to, is 4 miles round trip, and has a lower elevation, as well as some gentle climbs.
  • Schoolhouse Gap is an easy hike located near Cades Cove and is a great place to spot wildlife that populates the park.
  • Rainbow Falls is one of the park’s more challenging treks and is more than 5 miles round trip. Despite being a test for experienced hikers, the views are worth it.

Take Advantage of Fewer Crowds

It’s true that the Smoky Mountains in November can mean cooler temperatures in the daytime and colder weather at night, but it’s also one of the best times of the year for exploring.

Many of the popular attractions, especially the ones in the national park, aren’t overrun with tourists, which makes this the right time to take in the scenic views.

Head for Clingmans Dome, Cades Cove, or any of the other countless scenic overlooks in the park. You can go for a hike at your own pace, or you can drive to one of the popular spots and stay there as long as you like.

November in the Smokies is quite beautiful, and you’ll appreciate it more if you aren’t feeling rushed as you take in everything.

Celebrate Christmas at Dollywood

Dolly Parton’s Dollywood is one of the most popular attractions in the Great Smoky Mountains, and its fun annual events are popular with visitors.

That includes the holidays, and Dollywood holds Smoky Mountain Christmas from early November through early January. Visitors will delight in the twinkle of more than 5 million holiday lights and plenty of Christmas cheer.

Take a scenic stroll through the park, and marvel at all the colorful holiday decorations. Visit Santa’s Village, and renew your sense of childlike wonder.

Explore Glacier Ridge, which sprawls over Timber Canyon and Wilderness Pass, telling the story of a Christmas miracle of a polar bear being able to visit his cousin the black bear for Christmas.

Make sure that you stay for more festivities, including seasonal shows and holiday music. You may not be in the holiday spirit when you arrive, but you will be when you leave!

Christmas at Dollywood - Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Christmas at Dollywood | photo via @christyleigha

Start Planning Your Trip to the Smoky Mountains in November

If you love cool nights and pleasant daytime temperatures, there’s no better time than now to plan a November trip to the Smokies. With careful planning, you’ll still catch some fall foliage and be treated to wonderful panoramic views in some of the best areas of Tennessee and North Carolina.

If you want to visit Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, and other Smoky Mountain sites during the off-season, November is absolutely the perfect time to go.

So, start planning your visit to the Smoky Mountains in November now. You’ll get the best of all worlds — warm temperatures, the beauty of nature, holiday fun, and plenty of outdoor and indoor activities to enjoy with friends and family.

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