Outdoor Fun in the Smokies
Why do people avoid wintertime vacations? Probably because they think they’ll be cooped up indoors. But that’s just not the case when it comes to the Smoky Mountains! Your effort to get to the Smokies will be so worth it when you realize how mild the weather is and how many outdoor activities there are to choose from for your wintertime getaway. From hiking in the Smokies to skiing down the slopes, here are a few ways to have Smoky Mountain fun in the great outdoors this winter.
Explore the Winterfest Lights
One of the best features of the Smoky Mountains during the winter is the magical transformation of its cities for the annual Winterfest celebration. Millions of lights fill both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge for a holiday spectacle that’s sure to impress your family and friends. You can see the lights by driving through town or by buying a ticket for the Gatlinburg Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights. While both of these are great options, the best way to really experience the wintertime décor is simply by walking the streets yourselves and seeing them up close. For a quiet place to walk around while soaking in the holiday atmosphere, head over to Patriot Park behind The Old Mill Restaurant in Pigeon Forge. Some of my fondest childhood memories are walking this paved, half-mile trail with my family and stopping to feed the ducks—before heading inside to get a nice hot bowl of corn chowder at The Old Mill of course!
Hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Even though it’s winter and some secondary roads, campgrounds, and other visitor facilities will be closed, there is still plenty to explore inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In the winter, try a shorter day hike in the park. This way you can guarantee that you will be back to your car before the sun sets early in the evening. Some great options for day hikes include Rainbow Falls Trail and Laurel Falls Trail—both of which feature beautiful waterfalls natural to the Smokies. These hikes are especially stunning in the winter months because of the icicles that form around the falls in the colder temperatures. Other great options include Chimney Tops Trail and the Historic Nature Trail, which takes you to the century-old homestead of the Ogles, the first Euro-American family to settle in the Gatlinburg area in the early 19th century.
Ski at Ober Gatlinburg
Of course, if you make the trip to the Smoky Mountains during the winter, you have to make time for Ober Gatlinburg, the premier skiing/snowboarding location of the Great Smoky Mountains. The slopes open for skiing and snowboarding sometime in mid-December, depending on the weather. You can rent your equipment on site and even take lessons with professionals if you’ve never tried it before. For those looking for a different way to enjoy the slopes, try a tube ride at Ober Gatlinburg instead. This is a great option for families with young kids because it’s an activity that you can all do together. Finally, Ober Gatlinburg offers a “Cubbies Snow Zone” where your little ones can slide, climb, and make snowmen to their heart’s delight! You’ll love all the outdoor adventures awaiting you this winter at Ober Gatlinburg!
Find Your Perfect Wintertime Cabin
You won’t want to stay outside for your entire wintertime escape to the Smokies. Eventually, you’re going to want to cuddle up with a warm blanket and a mug of hot apple cider in front of a crackling fire. That’s what our Smoky Mountain cabins are for! Our cabins provide the perfect place to retreat after your outdoor fun this winter. We have cabins with every kind of amenity you can think of—from fireplaces to fire pits to outdoor hot tubs. You’re sure to find exactly what you need to warm up after long days outdoors. For more information on booking your wintertime cabin today, chat with our reservation specialists online or by phone (1-800-684-7865). They are available 24/7 to assist you!