The post-holiday blues are creeping in and the winter months are only halfway through… but we have the perfect remedy! A Smoky Mountain vacation is just what you need to rescue everyone from the winter blues and inspire some excitement in this chilly weather. Start those New Years’ resolutions or keep them going when this cold weather is already stealing away your vigor with a few of these outdoor winter activities.
Additionally, winter in the Smoky Mountains is inspiringly beautiful as the majestic snow-capped mountains stir your soul and give you a reason to love the colder months. And if you need more reasons to kick those winter blues and get to the Smoky Mountains, wintertime is a great time to visit Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg without the usual crowds – and the shopping is great with those post-holiday sales. So stop binge-watching Netflix shows, get out of your sweatpants, and reinvigorate your soul in the middle of winter this year with our 10 favorite winter activities in the Smoky Mountains!
- Snow Tubing, Skiing, and Snowboarding at Ober Gatlinburg
Ober Gatlinburg is the premier ski resort of the South! Skip expensive flights to the Rockies and shred some snow high atop Mount Harrison on 9 different slopes ranging in length and difficulty. Totally new to winter sports? Ober is actually the perfect place to begin since they offer group and private classes in addition to very affordable rentals in the Gatlinburg Snowsports Center!
Got some skills and want to catch some air in a snowy skate park? Terrain Park has ramps and obstacles for those who like a little more adventure with their downhill snow shredding. Families with younger children can let their little ones loose in the Cubbies Snow Zone or slide down the hill together in an inflatable snow tube. There is something for everyone at Ober Gatlinburg!
- A Gorgeous Drive Through Cades Cove
Cades Cove is by far one of the most beautiful areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and probably the best spot for wildlife viewing from your vehicle. Because of its beauty and one-way road, traffic can get pretty backed up on the 11-mile loop during peak seasons. However, with the chilly winter weather, much of the crowds are deterred and it provides you with a peaceful time to see the true majesty of Cades Cove with snow-capped mountains resting in the backdrop of the quiet historic cabins nestled in the valley. Deer and other non-hibernating wildlife can be seen grazing and scavenging for food in the mornings, lending some pretty fantastic picture opportunities of the animals and the landscapes.
- Get All Warmed Up with Some Tennessee Whiskey
Whet your whistle with some of the smoothest, tastiest liquid gold in a few of the South’s most popular distilleries. The Sugarlands Still House at Sugarlands Distilling Company features a beautiful tasting room and “Sippin’ Post” where guests can try the award-winning Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey alongside numerous flavors of moonshine and spirits.
Free tours and weekly live music bring visitors back every time they visit and make it the “#1 Thing to Do” in Gatlinburg on TripAdvisor. Traverse the Tennessee Whiskey Trail and experience other down-south distilleries like the Old Forge Distillery in The Old Mill District and the Ole Smoky Whiskey Distillery, with locations in both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg!
- Touring the Holiday Lights – Minus the Crowds
Christmas might be over, but the celebration of Winterfest is so big in the Smoky Mountains that the millions upon millions of lights stay up through February! With the holidays over and the crowds subsided, tour the magical winter wonderland lights throughout Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg without all the extra headlights on the roads.
- Frozen Waterfalls and Serene Nature Views in Hibernation
Winter hiking is a great way to get the blood pumping and your spirits up after being cooped up inside all the time back home. Although it may not seem like it, winter hiking in the Smoky Mountains provides a ton of great sightseeing. From the frozen waterfalls like Laurel Falls and Abrams Falls in Cades Cove to the more visible mountains through the bare trees in hibernation, winter hiking proves to be just as stimulating and inspiring. Just be sure to wear warm, layered clothes and water-resistant shoes because you may trek through some snow!
- Steamy Hot Tub Soaking in the Crisp Mountain Air
Wintertime is probably our favorite time to take a dip in the bubbling waters of the hot tubs found in most of our Cabins for YOU cabins. The balance between crisp, cool air and the steam rising off the hot waters soothing your body makes for truly relaxing moments that are much needed after returning to work and school in the wintertime.
- Sightseeing and Dining Atop Anakeesta
Why not mix sightseeing with your dinner? Anakeesta is one of Gatlinburg’s newest attractions that is drawing a lot of popularity with their alpine-inspired shopping village, fun activities like ziplining and their mountain coaster, and delicious dining spots overlooking some of the most incredible views of the Smoky Mountains. Enjoy drinks and dinner at Cliff Top located in Firefly Village, boasting savory all-American eats, smooth specialty cocktails, and sweeping views of the snow-capped Smoky Mountains.
- Romantic Evenings or Fun-Filled Nights By the Fire
Pop in your family’s favorite DVD movies, play board games, or revel in the peaceful tranquility far away from stress and work while by a warm, crackling fire in a Cabins for YOU lodge nestled in the Smoky Mountains. Sip on delicious cups of marshmallow-filled hot chocolate or break open your new bottle of red wine from the Smoky Mountain Winery. However you spend your nights by the fire, they are always a relaxing time in a cabin overlooking the serene forestry, icy rivers, or majestic mountains of the Smokies during wintertime.
- Cross-Country Skiing and Breathtaking Views at Clingmans Dome
Want to try something new this year or challenge yourself? Take on the snowy slope leading to Clingmans Dome on a cross-country ski or snowshoe trip! The road to Clingmans Dome is closed from December to March, but since US 441 is an important passageway, it stays plowed and maintained, even after snowstorms. Dress warm and park your car at the intersection of Dome Road and US 441 to begin your snowy adventure.
After traversing the mountain for 6 miles, climbers are treated to the best views of the Smoky Mountains from the highest point in the park: Clingmans Dome. The concrete viewing deck provides 360-degree views with miles of visibility of rolling mountain peaks covered in white snow against blue and gray winter skies. Once you have taken in the pure majesty of nature and snapped your pictures, enjoy a nice ski downhill back to your car where the road is closed, making it a 15-mile roundtrip journey with half being downhill. Check out the NPS Great Smoky Mountains web page for weather and snowfall reports.
- Shop the Post-Holiday Deals of the Tanger Outlets in Sevierville
They don’t call it retail therapy for nothing. Once you’ve done all the sightseeing and winter activities your heart desires in the Smokies, take advantage of the post-holiday clearance sales in the Tanger Outlets of Sevierville, where you can find all the high-end brands, like Michael Khors and Coach, your favorites, like Nike and Old Navy, and more as they need to clear their shelves for the fast-approaching spring season.