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The Appalachian Lodge

great smoky mountains national park in the winter

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in America and welcomes double the number of visitors of the Grand Canyon, the second most visited park, every year. With over 11 million people roaming the roads and trails of the Smokies, it can seem as if experiencing the beauty and wilderness of the area could be more hectic than peaceful, but that’s certainly not true. While it is true more people tend to visit in the spring, summer, and fall, the winter months provides a completely different experience. We wanted to share 3 things you’ll love about visiting the Smokies during winter!

1. More Solitude

bullhead trail in the snowThe amount of solitude that can be found in the Smokies during the winter cannot be denied. Trails that were crowded just a couple months earlier only see a few hikers that pass through, and there’s a good chance that you’ll drive the entire stretch of Little River Road in the early morning hours and only pass a couple of vehicles. Seasonal roads like the Roaring Fork Motor Trail and Clingmans Dome Road are closed to vehicles but are open to foot traffic, allowing guests to take a walk along the once busy route. Even destinations like Laurel Falls become a little quieter and have plenty of parking. You won’t find yourself waiting in a long line at the Sugarlands Visitors Center or even at the many restaurants in downtown Gatlinburg when you surface from the park for lunch or dinner after a hike. During winter, the crowd fades but the beauty in the park remains. If you’re looking to connect with nature and enjoy the features of the park without the hustle and bustle, then a winter trip to the Smokies is perfect for you!

2. Wintertime Beauty

view from bullhead trail with a rainbowIf you’ve ever been to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, then you probably know that the weather here can be unpredictable. The conditions in the lower elevations are often much different than that of the higher elevations. From time to time, we see days during the winter that feel like spring, but we also have plenty of days when the park turns into a winter wonderland and is filled with wintertime beauty that is often only seen in the movies. Snowy days in the park bring a picture perfection and never fail to turn most of us back into 5 year olds. After a stretch of time when the temps stay below freezing, our waterfalls become sculptures that are beyond stunning and to see the mountains covered with hoarfrost is an unforgettable experience! To explore the beauty of the Smoky Mountains safely during the winter months, come prepared with the right winter gear as well as microspikes for ice covered trails. The NOC in Gatlinburg is an excellent resource for everything you’ll need to get started on your adventure in the Smokies!

3. Gems of the Park

little river road with snowExploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during the winter is also perfect for finding many of the park’s priceless gems that lie tucked away underneath the vegetation during the warmer months. Spotting places like The Troll Bridge of Elkmont, the 100 year old Cadillac in Tremont, or the Voorheis springhouse in Roaring Fork are much easier to see when the days of winter reveal them. Even as you drive along the road or hike up a trail, you’ll see remnants of old homesteads or traces of the days when the Little River Railroad Company logged among the hills. If you’re in the park this winter, take time to explore the quiet walkways and see if you can spot stonewalls and other gems that are visible during the colder months of the year. So if you’re heading into the Smokies this winter then bundle up and start exploring!

Winter isn’t only a great time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but it’s also an excellent time to stay in Gatlinburg! Look through our Gatlinburg hotel rooms, and book one for your perfect winter getaway in the mountains!