The grand mountains, wrapped in a misty haze, spanning the southern Appalachians along the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, have something to offer everyone every season. If you plan to visit the Great Smoky Mountains, you have landed at the right place to get started.
Although every season in the Great Smokys has its charm, it is best to consider your preferences and time your trip accordingly. Every season has something different to offer.
The Great Smokys experience tourists all year long. However, the months of June, July, and October are the most visited, making summer and fall the most crowded time in the year to visit. In comparison, winter and spring are the least visited seasons in the Smokys. About 10 million tourists visit the Great Smoky Mountains every year. So you are bound to glimpse many tourists spending the time of their lives even during the least visited months in the Smoky Mountains.
Here are some great things about each season in the Great Smoky Mountains range that one must know before planning the trip.
Warm and wet summer
Summer is the most lively of the seasons in the Smoky Mountains. There are a lot of outdoor attractions for everyone, especially thrill-seeking adventurers, during this time of the year. You can go zip-lining amid the mountains and trees or go white water river rafting along the scenic upper or lower miles-long rivers. Be sure to buy tickets in advance and come prepared with the necessary gear.
You can also plan camping trips with your friends during the summer. The skies full of stars make the experience worthwhile. However, camping is allowed only at designated campsites and shelters. You can find ample facilities for camping in the Greenbrier Campground and Elkmont Campground.
Summer is also a good time to see wildlife. Bears and deer are especially visible during this season. You can also cool yourself off by going to the high-elevation places in the park, like the Chimney Top Trail and the Clingmans Dome. Or, you can also explore some beautiful and enticing waterfalls in their complete glory. The Abrams Falls, Grotto Falls, Laurel Falls, and Rainbow Falls are a must-see.
The temperature in the high-elevation areas is comparatively lower than in the low-elevation areas. The Smokys experience a temperature of about 54°F at higher altitudes and about 77°F at the blower levels. Although the weather during the summer is humid and warm, expect to experience some afternoon thundershowers during your visit. So come with your rain gear.
The Smokys begin to experience dry and cooler temperatures during fall. You can catch the beautiful colors of nature during this season that make from some excellent views and pictures. Autumn begins in the second week of October, during which higher elevations might also experience snowfall.
Because of the beautiful foliage, the autumn season is the best time to go on the long hiking trails of the national park. Some popular trails to go hiking are the Alum Cave Trail and the Middle Prong Trail.
Although the fall season is quite crowded, there are some areas where you can avoid crowds during the autumn season. If you are more of a private person, places like Greenbrier and Cataloochee Valley would be perfect for you.
The high-elevation areas of the Great Smoky National Park turn into a winter wonderland as they experience below-freezing temperatures of about 23°F. The lower elevationns have mild temperatures, about 46°F, and don’t usually experience snowfall. They are the best to trek on in winter when the leaves have fallen dead from the trees. You must be very careful and well-equipped if you wish to go hiking in cooler areas during this time of the year.
Winter is also the best time to travel the Smoky Mountains if you wish to lift your holiday spirits. The entire town of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge will be covered in Christmas decorations with several festivals happening.
Although the snow-capped peaks of the beautiful Smokys make the place an incredible sight, the winters are less crowded. Most of the areas in the national park are easily accessible during the winter season. However, some roads in high-elevation areas are closed because of heavy snow.
Spring in the Smokys is a time of rejuvenation. The trees come back to life after cold winters, and the wildflowers along the hiking trails begin their beautiful bloom. This time of rebirth is an incredible time to visit the Smokys. Porter’s Creek and the Schoolhouse Gap Trail are some of the captivating hiking trails to trek on during the spring season.
The season of spring is also the less crowded season in the mountains. If you are the kind of person who wants some privacy, the months of March and April are for you to plan your trip.
Moreover, the Smokys experience heavy rainfall during spring, so pack accordingly. Be sure to bring umbrellas, raincoats, a waterproof bag, and boots.
You can also witness the waterfalls in their utmost glory during spring. While the large waterfalls attract crowds, you can find smaller waterfalls near streams and rivers.
Whether it’s zip-lining, white water rafting, horse riding during the summers, hiking on the miles-long trails while witnessing the beautiful fall foliage, exploring the icy trails in winter, or celebrating nature’s colors in spring, the Great Smokys offer something for every type of tourist. So plan your trip and pack accordingly.