Best Time to Visit - 8 min read

Best Time to Visit Smoky Mountains (Explore the Great Outdoors!)

Town and Tourist

Town and Tourist, Updated November 4, 2022

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The Great Smoky Mountains are a sight to behold, and the charming towns around them are fun and unique. Whether it be Gatlinburg or Cherokee, each town around the Great Smoky Mountains is just as mesmerizing as its surrounding natural beauty. It’s all about when you go, however, so what is the best time to visit the Smoky Mountains?

The summer is the best time to visit the Smoky Mountains because of the perfect weather. January and February are the worst times to go to the Smoky Mountains because the area can get below 20 degrees. Spring is the best time to visit the Smoky Mountains if you want to avoid crowds and enjoy comfortable weather.  

The entire region is fairly rainy throughout the year, but May and July are the rainiest months. There is no wrong time to visit the Smoky Mountains, and it just depends on what kind of experience you want to have. Follow along as we explore the best time to visit the Smoky Mountains.

Worst Time to Visit Smoky Mountains

January and February are the worst times to visit the Smoky Mountains. This is a rainy time with lots of cloudy days and cold nights. The snow can be beautiful, but it can also limit your outdoor activities in the Smoky Mountains.

Even still, many tourists visit the Smoky Mountains during January and February for the winter events. The main downside to visiting the Smoky Mountains during this time is that it can be physically uncomfortable. Temperatures can drop to 20 degrees or below throughout January and February which makes it unpleasant to be outside.

Cheapest Time to Visit Smoky Mountains

The winter is the cheapest time to visit the Smoky Mountains. January and February specifically are the cheapest months to visit in the winter. December is a cheap month to visit the Smoky Mountains as well, but flight prices generally increase closer to Christmas.

Winter is the cheapest time to visit the Smoky Mountains because it is a less desirable vacation period. You can find round-trip flights to the Smoky Mountains for $360 or less per person in January. However, you will be able to get a much better deal if you book your flight as early as August if you plan to visit in the winter.

What Time of Year is the Best Weather in the Smoky Mountains?

January: Best Time for Winter Hikes

There is no shortage of fun events throughout January in the Great Smoky Mountains area. The Winter Heritage Festival in Gatlinburg is the most fun Smoky Mountains event in January. You can even still enjoy the Christmas holiday during January as Pigeon Forge leaves lights up until the end of the month.

January is the coldest month of the year for the Great Smoky Mountains area. You will need to bundle up with warm clothes whether you stay in Pigeon Forge, Bryson City, or Gatlinburg. It can get as cold as 20 degrees during January with highs of 44 degrees throughout January.

  • Winter Hikes
  • Winter Heritage Festival
  • Winterfest
  • Crossroads Winter Conference

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February: Best Time to Visit in the Winter

The weather slowly starts to increase throughout February with temperatures between 24 and 47 degrees. You are likely to see snow when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains in February. It only snows an average of 2 inches, however, so you don’t have to worry about canceling your plans.

February provides the perfect conditions to go snow tubing in the Smoky Mountains.

  • Snow Tubing
  • Gatlinburg Chili Cook-Off

March: Best Time for Festivities

Irish Month at the Titanic Museum is one of several ways the Smoky Mountains celebrate Irish heritage. You can also find fun St. Patrick’s Day parades in Gatlinburg during March. Check out Ponies in the Smokies if you want to see the most impressive animals in the area.

Luckily, the Great Smoky Mountains begin to warm up all month long. Temperatures fluctuate between 29 and 56 degrees on average during March.

  • Titanic Museum Irish Month
  • Patrick’s Day
  • Ponies in the Smokies
  • Smoky Mountains Encore

April: Best Time to Visit in the Spring

Spring is in full swing during April in the Smoky Mountains. It gets up to 65 degrees during April in the Smoky Mountains, but it can drop to 35 degrees. Prepare for it to rain for 9 days throughout the month or more when you visit in April.

  • Spirit Brands Nationals
  • Spring Rod Run
  • Women of Joy – Pigeon Forge
  • Stampede in the Smokies

May: Best Time for Special Events

May is the rainiest month of the year for the Smoky Mountains with 11-13 days of rain. You can look forward to a comfortable 45-70 degree temperature span during May.

Special Events like the Smoky Mountain Antique Toy & Pedal Car Show are worth checking out on your vacation.

  • Gaither Family Fest
  • Smoky Mountain Passion Play
  • The Visioning Getaway
  • Smoky Mountain Antique Toy & Pedal Car Show

Related Read: 50 Most Beautiful Places in the US

June: Best Time to Visit Dollywood

June is the best time to visit Dollywood because of the weather. It rarely gets hotter than 77 degrees so you won’t have to worry about extreme heat while you’re waiting in line.

Get ready for cool nights in the Great Smoky Mountains area as it gets down to 53 degrees at night during June.

  • Visit Dollywood
  • A Mountain Quiltfest
  • Cherokee Gourd Artists Gathering

July: Best Time for the Arts

July is the second rainiest month of the year for the Great Smoky Mountains, and it’s also one of the hottest. Daytime highs reach 80 degrees on a sunny July day but they can drop as low as 56 degrees. You can expect 12-13 days of rain each July in the Great Smoky Mountains area.

The Gatlinburg’s Craftsman Fair is a chance to see impressive local arts and crafts. Check out Smoky Mt Tunes & Tales or a fun fireworks display on July 4th.

  • Gatlinburg’s Craftsman Fair
  • Smoky Mt Tunes & Tales
  • Fireworks

August: Best Time to Visit in the Summer

Temperatures fluctuate between 55 and 79 degrees throughout August in the Great Smoky Mountains. Towns like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Bryson City get quite cool on some evenings in August. It can still rain for up 10 days throughout the month, so bring clothes that you don’t mind getting wet.

  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Hiking
  • Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival
  • The Great Smoky Mountain Jeep Invasion

Related Read: 15 Best Waterfalls in West Virginia

September: Best Time for Music

Enjoy some fall exercise at the Pigeon Forge Rod Run in Gatlinburg during September. Temperatures fluctuate between 50 and 74 degrees throughout September in the Smoky Mountains. This is the perfect month for live music with the Pigeon Forge Bluegrass Festival and Music on the Mountain.

  • Pigeon Forge Rod Run
  • Music on the Mountain
  • Pigeon Forge Bluegrass Festival

October: Best Time to Visit in Autumn

Halloween-lovers will appreciate the Mysterious Mansion Haunted House in Gatlinburg. Oktoberfest and Great Pumpkin LumiNights are the most fun events of the month in the Smoky Mountains. You can expect temperatures between 37 and 65 degrees when you visit the Smoky Mountains in October.

Credit: Melissa H. / TripAdvisor
  • Great Pumpkin LumiNights
  • Mysterious Mansion Haunted House
  • Pumpkin Picking
  • Oktoberfest

November: Best Time for a Quiet Trip

Temperatures continue to decline during November in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Cherokee, and the surrounding area. You can look forward to temperatures between 29 and 55 degrees throughout the month.

The Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Show is the most exciting special event in November. Otherwise, November is a quiet time in the Smoky Mountains.

  • Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Show
  • Hiking

Related Read: Best Time to Visit Shenandoah National Park

December: Best Time to Celebrate the Holidays

The annual Pigeon Forge Winterfest is a special holiday event that begins in December and ends in February. This special Christmas lights display is special because of the surrounding natural beauty.

Locals and tourists alike flock to Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Celebration for the most festive holiday party.

You can expect temperatures between 22 and 46 degrees when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains in December. It rarely snows more than 2” in Great Smoky Mountain towns like Gatlinburg. Cold rain is something to consider during your December trip to the Smoky Mountains as there are up to 10 days of precipitation.

  • Winterfest
  • Lights Over Gatlinburg
  • Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Celebration

Best Time to Visit Smoky Mountains to Avoid Crowds

Visit the Smoky Mountains in the spring if you want to avoid crowds. The Smoky Mountains are less busy between March and May than during the summer. An average of 14 million tourists visit the Smoky Mountains throughout the year, and most of them come during the summer.

July is the worst time to visit the Smoky Mountains if you want to avoid crowds. Luckily, you can avoid crowded restaurants, hotels, and attractions when you visit in the spring. Take this opportunity to visit attractions like Dollywood without worrying about waiting in long lines.

The other key advantage of a spring trip is that it won’t get overly hot. Temperatures won’t typically exceed 71 degrees on average during the spring in the Smoky Mountains

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