It is fair to say that one of the best winter views you can enjoy while visiting the Smokies during the colder weather is the sight of your crackling fire roaring happily away in your cabin’s fireplace. Tucked into a cozy chair, surrounded by family or friends, and gazing out at the majestic winter landscape is probably one of the finest ways to relax and recharge this winter.
However tempting it might be to spend your entire visit inside by the fire, you should also head out into the surroundings and enjoy the unprecedented beauty that is the Smokies in winter. There are frozen waterfalls that you can reach in your car, popular spots now free of summer crowds and blanketed in a peaceful drift of snow, and the mountains themselves, which look entirely different in the winter months.
And if the idea of heading out in a car makes you think you might miss something, think again. CNN picked the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as one of the finest winter drives in the entire United States. So, just opting to pay a visit to the park can provide you with plenty of photo opportunities and show-stopping views.
Holiday Lights in the Smokies
From late November and until the turn of the New Year, the entire region is full of holiday lights. Known formally as Winterfest, it is a celebration of the season and between Sevierville, Townsend, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, there are more than five million little twinkle lights glimmering. There are self-guided driving tours to enjoy, walks through towns, parades, and so much more. Booking a visit in this period can offer some of the most amazing views imaginable. If you prefer all-natural views, consider some of these options:
Newfound Gap Road
Running from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, NC, the road has a wide array of spots to pull over and snap photos. It is busier in the summer months, and so a winter drive is super enjoyable because you can spend longer stretches at each stop, drive a more comfortable pace and really savor the scenery. If you are particularly hardy, the parking area for the Appalachian Trail access offers truly stunning sunrise photos, and at the northern end of the road, you get great views of the Little Pigeon River, and the Oconaluftee River at the southern end.
Cades Cove in the winter
Long noted as the most popular part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it is also a place where loads of local wildlife is frequently spotted – even in the winter months.
The 11-mile loop is one of the most scenic and there are lots of spots to pull over. With the leaves down for the season, you can see a lot of the old homes, mills, barns and churches normally concealed from sight!
Frozen Waterfalls in the Smokies
In the park and throughout the area, you can find many waterfalls reachable by car, including:
- Meigs Falls
- The Sinks
- Place of a Thousand Drips
Frozen by winter’s chill, they can offer some of the most stunningly beautiful views you will ever see, and which are only possible thanks to the changing seasons.
You might also want to head to Ober Gatlinburg to go to the top of the mountain, take a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, or enjoy the views from your own private cabin. Wherever you look, it is sure that the Smokies offer something appealing and beautiful to behold.
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