Did you know that more than 10 million visitors go to the Smoky Mountains each year? The attractions in the Smoky Mountains are usually populated all year round, even during the off-season. Weather is favorable, with most summers being less than 90 degrees and 20 degrees in the winter.
There are a lot of attractions in the Smoky Mountains, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which covers more than 500,000 acres of land. Here, you can explore miles of natural scenery, hike, and also get to fish in the beautiful rivers and ponds. The wildlife is life-changing during the sunny summers, and the wildflowers will give you that relaxed adventure sensation.
Wildlife is found in the Cades Cove, where bears get out of their dens in late March. You can get to see the animals during the mating season to get in touch with their unique lifestyle. Keep reading to know the best times to visit the Smoky Mountains and what key considerations to take for the bet visit.
Top 3 Best Time to Visit Smoky Mountains
1. Summer (June to Early July)
The summer is the packed season of the year in the Smoky Mountains. You can get to experience all that the Smokies have to offer without compromising on doing any activity. Visit the National Park to get in touch with nature, wine and dine in the best restaurants at the tourist destinations, and sleep in the most iconic cabins in the area.
Remember that this is the season when everything is more expensive than usual, and the crowds are at their peak. You may also have trouble getting accommodations if you do not book in advance. Special events and festivals populate the Smoky Mountains at this time, and outdoor activities like rafting, horseback riding, and fishing are at their peak.
2. Late summer (Late July to August)
The late summer brings you all the vibrant June and July period activities without the hustle of wrestling with crowds. Moreover, the prices at the cabins and other areas are a bit cheaper at this period.
The Cades Cove Loop and Newfound Gap road usually take longer during the peak of the summer but become free during late summer. Mornings are the best times to do most of your activities in the Smoky Mountains during the summer and late summer.
The fall is by far the ideal time to visit the Smoky Mountains compared to other times like the summer and winter. The fall colors bring the mountain nature to life and invite great rates and lesser tourists.
There are great deals on accommodations at this time, and the temperatures are still favorable for some outdoor activities. Wildlife activity at the Cades Cove is at its peak during this season. Ensure to visit the animals during dusk or in the morning for the best experiences.
Considerations For the Best Time to Visit the Smoky Mountains
You have to consider a set of things before undertaking any trip. The obvious considerations are usually your budget, the safety of the locations, the various attractions, and what you are going to carry. We have three considerations you should look into for the best visit to the Smoky Mountains. The best time to visit the Smoky Mountains is dictated by:
1. The Smoky Mountains Seasons and Weather
The four seasons are fully experienced in the Smoky Mountains. The winter is between November and February, characterized by fewer crowds and enchanting visits to places like the National Park. This is the best time for those who do not want to get stuck in crowded lines, restaurants, and attractions.
The beauty of winter in the Smokies is that the temperatures are mild at around 50 degrees. This helps keep most parks and attractions open except for a few like the Clingmans Dome, historic grist mills, and some of the campgrounds.
The spring is between March and May, where you can expect to see beautiful animals, gorgeous wildflowers, and the emergence of bears from hibernation. Crowds start getting bigger at this time of year, with a significant number showing up mostly on Memorial Day. The weather is shaky at this time, with shifts between snowy, windy, sunny, and warm conditions.
The summer between June and August is when everything is open in the Smoky Mountains. Crowds are at their peak at this time of the year due to the various tourist attractions. The busiest months during the summer are July and August, where the traffic is bad, and the dining areas are always full. The beauty of the summer is that you won’t run out of activities to do and festivals to attend.
The autumn is between September and November brings phenomenal colors during the fall that cover the entire mountains. Crowds will still be at their largest due to this. Wildlife watching is one of the popular attractions at this time of the year.
Related Read: Does It Snow in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee?
2. The Various Smoky Mountains Attractions
The Smoky Mountains is home to various attractions. The Smoky Mountains National Park is the biggest pull for most tourists with its intricate number of wildlife and beautiful fall colors in nature. The summer is the best time to visit the National Park with its active wildlife and flowing waterfalls.
The trails are open at this time, and you can see lots of activities from the 6,000 feet elevations of the mountains. The clothing layers will matter when visiting the National Park during the summer, so ensure to park as many varieties.
October sees the fall foliage in the park and cooler. There are lots of exhibits to enjoy, and you can get to know of the park’s remarkable history and also get to buy some gifts from the gift shop. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a must-visit at the national park as you get to see the falling of the leaves.
Cades cove is another famous attraction in the Smoky Mountains that is easily accessible from the Tennessee side of the Smoky Mountains National Park. The former home to the Appalachian settlers in the 18th century is now home to historical cabins, churches, and grist mills.
Here, you will learn about the American settlers through various exhibits. There is also a gift shop for getting nature-worthy gifts and hiking maps.
The Clingmans Dome is a 6,643-foot-high peak that is located at the highest point in Tennessee. This location is a fan favorite among tourists, especially during the summer. Keep in mind that the place is crowded during the summer, and you may want to visit the location during the spring to get an amazing experience in a less crowded environment.
The Chimney Tops trail in the Smoky Mountains National Park is the best place for hikers. Hikers get to climb over rocky environments and prefer to go in the less busy months since the summer invites a lot of inexperienced hikers. Ensure to pass by the visitor center to get updated on any trail development, such as weather conditions.
3. Activities You Would Like to Do in the Smoky Mountains.
The time of the year that invites you to the Smoky Mountains will largely depend on what you want to do. Visits to the best dining places and creameries are not as sensitive to the weather conditions as visiting the National Park.
The best time to go backpacking in the Smoky Mountains is between June and September. During this time, visitors are given several rules and regulations, which will cost them a $5,000 fine or/and six months of jail if violated.
Autumn leaf-peeping is another great activity to do in the Smoky Mountains. Over 100 tree species in the National Park boast gorgeous colors like bright orange, reds, and yellow. The best times for leaf-peeping is in mid-September and mid-October.
The Smoky Mountains is hugely populated with rustic and glamorous cabins such as the LeConte Lodge on top of Mt. Le Conte in the National Park. Cabins and cottages are usually fully booked during the summer, and it is easier to get accommodation at these places if you pick them off-season or book in advance.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is April a good time to visit the Smoky Mountains?
Springtime in April is a great time to visit the Smoky Mountains to have a look at beautiful wildlife, amazing wildflowers, and bask under waterfalls. It is a period that is filled with nature with fewer crowds at the park and easy access to most spots.
2. When is Gatlinburg least crowded?
Gatlinburg is the least populated between December and February during the winter. Although the environment is enchanting and sanctuary-like at this period, some attractions’ cold temperatures and closure make it hard for many visitors to pass by. However, prices are at their lowest at this time, and you won’t find any place crowded.
3. What are the most popular times to visit the Smoky Mountains?
The summer period between June and July is the most crowded time in the Smoky Mountains, with over a million visits. October is also another popular time in the Smokies, with an estimated 1.4 million visits per year.
4. Best time to get cheap cabin rentals in the Smoky Mountains
The off-season is the perfect time to get cheap cabin rentals in the Smoky Mountains. There is less demand for accommodations which makes it great for getting discounts and other special offers. January and February is the best time during the off-season compared to other times of the year. The cabin rentals are more expensive during the mid-summer. Avoid this season if you want to save a few bucks.