Most people visit the Smokies during the spring, summer, or fall, and these times of the year are beautiful for different reasons. You may not know that the Great Smoky Mountains are open year round! Winter is just as beautiful a time to visit as the other seasons, but you will want to be prepared for what could happen when you’re in town! Here’s what it’s really like visiting the Great Smoky Mountains in winter:
Winter Weather Conditions
The first thing people wonder about when it comes to winter in the Smokies is what the weather will be like. Of course, no one can fully predict the weather, but you can expect similar conditions year after year. The winters in the mountains are considered moderate, with the average temperature somewhere between the 30s and 40s. On a particularly warm winter day, you could find the temperatures in the 60s. However, if you plan on exploring the higher elevations, be aware that the higher you go, the colder it will be.
When it snows in the Great Smoky Mountains in winter, it’s an incredible sight. There’s nothing like seeing the snow-capped mountains in the distance, or having snow falling down as you watch from the warmth of your cabin. It can snow any time during the winter, so if you are planning a winter trip, check the weather before you come so you can prepare in advance.
Road Closures in the Park
Although the Great Smoky Mountains National Park doesn’t close during the winter, there are certain roads that are only open from spring to the end of fall. Most of these are secondary roads, and they include Clingmans Dome Road, Little Greenbrier Road, Parsons Branch Road, and Roaring Fork Motor Trail. Roads that typically stay open unless there is inclimate weather include Cades Cove Loop Road, Little River Road, and Newfound Gap Road. Stay up to date with temporary road closures through the National Park’s Service website.
Although Clingmans Dome Road is closed to vehicles this time of year, it is open for hikers and cross country skiers! People take their skis and trek up the road, then ski back down for fun during this time of year. Many people will also hike along Roaring Fork Motor Trail and Forge Creek Road to explore the area.
Hiking in the Winter
Something else you can enjoy in the mountains during winter is hiking! Almost all of the trails are open during this time of year. You might find some trails that have no trace of winter, some might be icy, and others could be covered in snow. Hiking to waterfalls can be beautiful during winter because the cascades freeze into icicles. Some of the most popular trails in winter include Alum Cave Trail, Laurel Falls, and Andrews Bald.
If you plan on hiking in winter, you should prepare accordingly. You’ll want to dress warmly since the temperatures can quickly dip towards freezing. Dress with plenty of layers, and wear clothing that is designed to keep you warm. Don’t forget to bring a first aid kit, snacks, water, a map, and a compass. Also, it is recommended that you always hike with someone else, but if you decide to hike alone, tell somewhere where you are going.
Now you know a little more about what it’s like to visit the Great Smoky Mountains in winter! You’ll find plenty of fun things to do in the national park when you stay with us. Want to know more about what there is to do in town? Check out these Smoky Mountain attractions you should visit during your winter trip!