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
• 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.
View this post on Instagram
“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: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/upload/GSMNP-Map_JUNE14-complete4-2.pdf For information regarding the Smokies Trails Forever Program and Volunteering with Trails visit: https://friendsofthesmokies.org/trailsforever/ 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).
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.
View this post on Instagram
With winter almost a week away, the park is looking like a winter wonderland. Remember when hiking at this time of year that trail conditions can be very icy, especially at higher elevations. Please wear layers, proper footwear, and plan ahead before you hike! Photo by: Kristina Plaas; Photo description: Snow in the forest at the the Ramsey Cascades Trailhead with rocks and a trail sign in the foreground.
Packed and Ready to Go?
All that’s left to do now is to browse the exclusive offers at Courtyard by Marriott Pigeon Forge and book your mountain getaway.