The holidays are here and the weather is nice and cool.  Many of our guests and prospective guests alike are wondering whether they’ll see snow on their Smoky Mountain vacation.  In fact, a common question many people have is “how much snow do the Smoky Mountains see every year?” Well, the answer to that may surprise you.  If you want to know the best time of year to see snow in Gatlinburg, this post is for you!

A snowy scene at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – photo courtesy and copyright of National Park Service

Snow in the Smokies Facts

Like many mountainous regions, predicting the weather in the Smokies can be difficult.  Thankfully, we have plenty of records to look at to tell us what kind of weather we can expect any time of year.  While Gatlinburg sits at approximately 1280 feet above sea level, our highest point in the mountains reaches a whopping 6643 feet at Clingman’s Dome.  This vast difference in elevation also means a large difference in weather!  

Gatlinburg receives less than a foot of snow per year, on average.  To be exact, approximately 9 inches of snow per year. Compare this average to Newfound Gap, which sits 5046 feet, and you’ll see they get almost four feet more!  At an average of approximately 5 feet per year, the elevation really changes things!

Many people are even more familiar with Mount LeConte.  The third highest peak in the Smokies measures in at 6593’.  While there are no webcams here, their famous blog, High on LeConte, documents the weather on the mountain nearly year-round – including in winter!  Best of all, they nearly always include a photo from the staff on the mountain as well.  During the winter months, the winter caretaker will occasionally update the conditions and detail some of the visitors they meets on the mountain as well.  How much snow does Mount LeConte get? Well, like Newfound Gap, they see an average of 5-6 feet per year.  

Will Businesses Close in the Snow?  

The answer to this question isn’t quite as easy as the last one.  The answer to this question is MAYBE. The Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas don’t often see snow, and because of this we don’t have as many resources for road clearing as many communities further north.  In the Smoky Mountains, usually main roads are treated for snow and ice, but many secondary and tertiary roads are not. Many neighborhoods and resorts in our area are managed by an HOA, and not all HOAs will treat or plow roads.  

Businesses in Sevier County always do their best to remain open for our millions of tourists every year.  However, many of our locally owned businesses put the safety of their employees first and will delay opening by a few hours or maybe stay closed on a “snow day.”  Want to know about a businesses hours during a snow event in the Smoky Mountains? Call or check their social media before making the trek to town.  

Snow is in the forecast for my trip – what should I do?

Seeing snow in the forecast isn’t a reason to cancel a trip to the Smoky Mountains.  While every season is beautiful here, seeing the mountains blanketed in a fluffy snow is something beautiful to behold.  Thankfully, as noted above, the lower elevations don’t tend to see quite so much of the white stuff. While there may be snow accumulating in the mountains, chances are only a dusting will hit in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.  However, if your family doesn’t feel comfortable in wintery conditions, your best judgement is always the best bet.  

If snow is predicted for your trip to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, there are some things you can do for an easier trip.  We always recommend bringing bottled water, flashlights, and extra blankets on any trip. For a winter weather advisory trip, we’d also recommend packing a few extra items: 

  • Hand and foot warmers
  • Extra layers, including gloves, socks, and hats
  • Ready-to-eat snacks
  • Easy to prepare meals that require no electricity to make
  • An ice scraper with a snow brush for your car
  • Snow chains for car tires

At American Patriot Getaways, we even offer third party trip insurance you can purchase during your booking process. While no one person can truly predict what the Smoky Mountain weather will do, trip insurance will give you peace of mind no matter what the weather decides to do.  

A purple sunset over snow covered mountains at Ober Gatlinburg

What is there to do in the winter in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge?

Unlike years ago, many businesses are open year-round in Sevier County these days.  Gone are the days of hotels, restaurants, and shops shuttering their doors for the winter months.  There’s plenty to see and do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in the wintertime!  

  • Pigeon Forge Winterfest begins in November and runs through February 17th, 2020.  Millions and millions of twinkling lights and stunning displays can be seen throughout town, and up and down the main roads all throughout the county.  
  • Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood runs November through January 4th, 2020.  There are plenty of special food options, more than 5 million lights, a 130-foot long light tunnel dubbed “The Arctic Passage”, and one-of-a-kind light installations throughout the park for the whole family to enjoy.  
  • Ober Gatlinburg will always have snow when you visit the Smokies in the winter!  This mountaintop ski resort makes snow all winter long. Don’t ski? No problem! Ober also offers snowtubing, indoor ice skating, shopping, and so much more.  Check out our blog post about all the wonderful activities you can try this winter. Ice bumper cars anyone?!
  • The 44th Annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade in downtown Gatlinburg is on December 6th, 2019
  • Festival of Christmas Past takes place at the Sugarland’s Visitor Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on December 14, 2019.  Listen to some old-timey music, learn about traditional mountain crafts, see historic toys and games, listen to some Appalachian storytelling with Granny Franny. 
  • Of course, you can also shop ‘til you drop at thousands of outlet stores across the county as well.  Check out our favorite places to shop.  Or, support the local economy and shop small for a holiday gift or special Valentine’s present your loved one will never forget when you visit The Glades Arts & Crafts Community.
  • Taking a hike on a winter’s day can be an absolute joy!  Read our safety tips and get ready for a wintertime adventure you’ll never forget.  Celebrate with a hot cocoa in front of the fireplace at your Smoky Mountain cabin afterward. 
  • An Aerial Tram heading through snow-covered mountains.

When is the best time to visit the Smokies in Winter?

The holidays are a busy time here in the Smoky Mountains.  Luckily, the winter season extends well into February. If you plan a visit in January or February, you have a greater chance of seeing some snow in the mountains.  Another perk to visiting during that time? Low season rates! Save some money on a vacation during January and February and take advantage of the low season rates at both rental companies and area attractions.  It might be a little chilly outside, but imagine spending a brisk afternoon seeing the sights in Gatlinburg followed by a long soak in your cabin’s steamy hot tub!

Book your Winter Stay Today!

Get ready for a winter vacation you’ll never forget!  When you book a cabin with American Patriot Getaways, you not only get to experience our incredible customer service, but you’ll make memories in your cabin for years to come.  Bring the whole family and book a cabin with a home theater for a relaxing weekend indoors. Or, book a honeymoon cabin for a getaway with that certain someone special. No matter which cabin you choose, you’ll be sure to enjoy one of the most incredible seasons in the Smoky Mountains.  Book your cabin online or give our friendly Reservations staff a call at 800-204-5169 to discuss the amenities or location you want to see on your vacation.  

After you book, let us help with these useful guides! Insider tips to help you plan the perfect Smoky Mountain vacation. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest area information!

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