Are you eager to experience The Smokies in every season? While the springtime is truly glorious and full of beautiful blooming trees, wildlife and lovely weather, the summer is tough to beat with its seemingly endless days of great conditions and nights of twinkling stars. Many would argue that the autumn is the best because of the weeks and weeks of foliage and the different harvest events.
What about winter? There is actually just as much to see and do in the winter months as there is at any other time of year. We’ve listed our five favorite activities, and maybe a few extras!
Lots of people don’t realize that The Smokies are home to great skiing, particularly that at the Ober Gatlinburg. Close to the cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, it is a year-round attraction with an alpine slide, ice skating, lots of restaurants, and activities for kids. Yet, the winter is when it really shines, offering skiing, snowboarding and tubing. You can even learn to ski here!
While most of us don’t like to head outside and into the wilderness during the cold of the winter months, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has some amazing hiking options open and available. In fact, it is one of the few times the park is nearly crowd-free so you can enjoy some stunning views and even trek into some of the waterfalls, frozen over for the season. Check with the park’s website for information about open trails and roads. NOTE: Cades Cove is usually open and winter is a great time to spot some local wildlife.
#3 A Train Ride
This sounds unusual, but the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad operates all of the way to January 1st and provides a lovely ride along the river and through the woods. In fact, you can even hop aboard the “Polar Express” and savor a holiday stop at the North Pole! Visit the railroad’s website for a full schedule.
#4 Big Events
From the Gatlinburg Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights to the Pigeon Forge Winterfest Driving Tour of Lights, there is a tone of Christmas activity beginning in November and lasting through the end of the year. Townsend has a Christmas Parade, a Reindeer Run and more.
#5 The Peace
It is impossible to argue that the area has an entirely different sort of peacefulness that settles over it along with winter’s snows. There are a lot of cozy cabins and chalets available in the mountain areas and down in the towns, and a stay booked at one of them can be an unforgettable experience. Imagine cozying up by your fireplace, gazing out at the snow-covered mountains and enjoying time with family, friends or just on your own during this remarkably peaceful time of the year.
Of course, the many amazing restaurants, shows, parks and museums of the area remain open year-round, and are a reason to head here for the winter months. You can also warm up with a wine or whiskey sampling tour or spend your day shopping in the Arts and Crafts Community over at Gatlinburg or the different areas of the towns. There’s much to see and do, and winter is a great time of year in the Smokies.
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