There are certain things you should know if you are planning a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. Click here to learn the best time to visit the Smoky Mountains.
From watching a family of black bears forage for food to spotting over 30 species of salamanders near a shady creek, hiking through misty mountains to quietly picnicking in a field of wildflowers, the Great Smoky Mountains has something for everyone.
Now’s your chance to experience its stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife. Deciding on when to visit all depends on what you’re looking to do and how you feel about crowds.
Keep reading below for tips on the best time to visit the Smoky Mountains and what to do while you’re there.
Great Smoky Mountains Weather By Month
About 6,000 feet separates the highest peaks and lowest valleys in the Smoky Mountains, so temperature and weather can change significantly over one day.
Here is a breakdown of the average conditions for each season:
- Summer is “generally hot and humid at the lower elevations and warm and pleasant up high, with frequent thunderstorms”
- Fall is “an excellent time to visit the park, with its warm (60-80 degree) days, cooler nights and drier weather”
- Winter is “usually mild in the lower valleys but colder in the high peaks with temperatures below zero and snow accumulation”
- Spring is “70-80 degrees with rain and an explosion of wildflowers across the park”
No matter what time of year you visit the Smoky Mountains, make sure you pack warm layers and waterproof gear for all conditions.
The Best Time to Visit the Smoky Mountains
With so many things to do in the Smoky Mountains, when should you visit?
If seeing wildflowers is your passion, spring is the best time to visit as the mountain laurel, rhododendron, and many others are blooming. Or if you prefer some quiet, book a trip in the winter months when the park is empty.
With approximately 9 million visitors a year, the Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park. If you want to avoid the crowds, the National Park Service recommends not booking your trip for mid-summer (June 15-August 15) or the month of October.
They also recommend touring the park early in the morning because most people are out from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. When choosing a vacation rental, select a cabin, condo or chalet close to the park in Gatlinburg so you don’t waste time commuting.
Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is 800 square miles spread out across North Carolina and Tennessee. With so much space and environmental diversity, there are activities for all interests:
- Drive or cycle through the park’s 384 miles of paved and gravel roads
- Hike one of the 150 official trails for amazing waterfall views
- Travel through part of the famous Appalachian Trail
- Fish anytime of the year in 2,900 miles of streams
- Catch fireflies with your family, the park has 19 different species
- Visit the Smoky Mountains in the fall to see gorgeous foliage
No matter what you choose to do with your time, consult the park’s hiking safety guidelines, and stay in touch with rangers.
Plan Your Dream Vacation to the Smoky Mountains
Have you started planning your trip yet? Decide the best time to visit the Smoky Mountains based on what activities your family wants to do.
And read our travel blog for more tips on biking while on vacation, planning for a road trip, choosing accommodations, and more.