The Smoky Mountains are a great destination year round, from the heat of July to the cold and snow of December. If you’re not sure what to bring at what time of year, don’t worry. Below, we’ve outlined the main things you’ll want or need depending on when you go.


There’s almost no end to the outdoor options in the Smoky Mountains. No matter what time of year you go, you can be prepared for maximum fun with these outdoor essentials:

•  A refillable water bottle to keep yourself hydrated whenever you’re outdoors and to cut down on plastic waste
•  Trail snacks, especially protein-rich ones such as nuts or trail mix
•  Appropriate footwear: hiking boots or shoes, sandals for stream crossings, and casual shoes for shopping and dining
•  Bug spray to keep the bugs away, especially if you’re sitting outside at night or spending long periods in the woods
•  A bathing suit for waterparks and rafting in the summer, and for indoor pools or cabin hot tubs in the cooler months
•  Sunscreen to protect from UV rays, even on cloudy days and in winter
•  Sunglasses
•  Binoculars for wildlife viewing
•  A camera, especially for the spring wildflowers and fall foliage changes
•  A flashlight, even if you’re not camping, for those longer hikes
•  A first-aid kit with disinfectant and bandages for cuts


Spring in the Smokies brings warmer weather in the daytime, but nights are still fairly cold, particularly in February and March. Layered clothing is key. You’ll want a t-shirt base with a sweater, as well as a jacket for nighttime or high elevations. In February and March, a winter coat and thick socks will still be necessary. Weather can change quickly in spring, so bring rain boots and a poncho or raincoat in case of sudden showers. Spring also sees more rainy days, and while there are lots of good indoor activities around, a board game or a deck of cards is a good idea too.


Summer nights might still be cool, but midday temperatures often reach the 90s in July and August. Shorts and t-shirts are a must. Wear long pants made from light-fabric to protect your legs if you go hiking. For going out at night, pack one sweatshirt or hoodie just in case it’s colder than usual. These also make it harder for nighttime bugs like mosquitoes to get to your skin. Lastly, the hot weather is a perfect time to cool off at a waterpark or go whitewater rafting. If you’re doing any water-related activities, bring clothes that will dry out quickly.


A Smoky Mountain fall is a lot like a Smoky Mountain summer, at least in the daytime. The trouble is, it’s more like winter at night. You’ll want to be ready for a wide range of temperatures. Warmer layers are better. Just like in spring, a t-shirt base with a sweater and light jacket is usually best. If you’re going later in the fall, you’ll want to bring a winter coat.

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“The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.” –Louis L’Amour-⁣ ⁣ Hooray!! It’s National Take a Hike Day! ⁣ ⁣ With over 800 miles of hiking trails, the Smokies offer an abundance of opportunities for hikers of all skill levels to get out and enjoy the Park.⁣ ⁣ So lace up those boots and get to walking!!⁣ #trailstuesday #nationaltakeahikeday #hike ⁣#takeahikeday ⁣ We are getting into the time of year when the weather can change drastically at a moment’s notice, so make sure to plan and prepare accordingly when venturing out into the Park. Be sure to take a Smokies trail map with you. You can download the map to your mobile device at:⁣ ⁣ For information regarding the Smokies Trails Forever Program and Volunteering with Trails visit: ⁣ ⁣ NPS Photos; Image descriptions: 1) Hiking trail, covered in fall leaves, overlooking a river (Old Sugarlands Trail). 2) Hiking trail covered in snow and ice (Appalachian Trail near Newfound Gap). ⁣

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Winters in the Smokies involve moderate cold, wind, and snow. Layering is always good in the Smokies, but make the layers a bit warmer. A long-sleeve t-shirt, long johns, and wool socks make a good base for your winter outfits. For an outer layer, a winter coat is best, along with a warm hat and a scarf. Normal hiking footwear is fine for other seasons, but in winter you may want snow boots or even microspikes for good traction.

Packed and Ready to Go?

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To say that Pigeon Forge is a fantastic year-round destination is an understatement. From the lively holiday season to the lazy days of summer, each time of the year brings a level of natural beauty and cultural excitement that is paralleled by few other American resort towns. For those who can’t relocate to the region permanently, here is a guide to help you pick exactly which season is right for you.


Autumn in Pigeon Forge brings weather in the fifties and sixties, colorful foliage throughout the Smokies, and so many delightful events we’ve written an entire guide — from artsy Chalkfest, at The Island shopping complex, to Dollywood’s Harvest Festival. It’s also a great time to indulge in the hearty regional cuisine, as well as sample wine and locally distilled whiskey. October is peak season, so come Halloween, you can enjoy Dollywood’s larger-than-life pumpkin patch or experience “fright nights” on the Rocky Top Mountain Coaster. Around Thanksgiving, explore the local crafts scene or watch the Titanic Museum’s kickoff to the holidays.


The temperatures drop to the forties and fifties throughout the winter season, which is quieter than autumn but lively and festive nonetheless. In addition to experiencing one of the spectacular holiday events (full list here), you can hike through mountains blanketed in snow, sip local apple cider, stock up on locally made gifts, or just curl up beneath one of the traditional quilts that eastern Tennessee is famous for. Ring in the new year at The Island or Dollywood, which celebrate the holiday in characteristically flamboyant, over-the-top fashion, and then spend January watching professional skiers compete in nearby Ober Gatlinburg.


Springtime in the Smokies is arguably our best-kept secret — bringing a beautiful wildflower bloom, Easter celebrations, and music and food events such as the Beans and Cornbread Festival. You’ll also get to see the area at its quietest (the crowds won’t return for another two to three months) — and if you’re into the outdoors, you’ll appreciate the mild weather at this time. Slightly warmer than autumn, the temperatures are ideal for hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities.


Weather in the seventies and eighties makes summer the best season to hit popular outdoor water parks such as Dollywood Splash Country, sample local ice cream, dine at an outdoor barbecue joint, and ride The Island’s iconic Ferris wheel — all of which account for the region’s popularity during this season. (The other peak season aside from October.) Naturally, it’s also a perfect time to keep exploring the mountains, which have become spectacularly lush and verdant from all of the rain in springtime.

Plan Your Trip

Now that you’ve figured out which season is best for your Pigeon Forge getaway, browse our exclusive offers and make sure you get the best rate.