Does It Snow in Gatlinburg, TN?

Growing up in the Appalachians, you can find a wide variety of lush greenery, thrilling theme parks, cozy mountain resorts, gorgeous seasons, and one stunning national park.

And while Gatlinburg is certainly home to a number of restful winter days to share with family and friends, it can become impacted by aberrative inclement weather like other spots in the South. 

So that begs the question, does it snow in Gatlinburg and what can I expect from your winter visit:

So, The Short Answer to Does it Snow in Gatlinburg?

Yes, absolutely it snows in Gatlinburg – and the area receives an average of 9 inches per year. (That’s in comparison to areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that receive around 70 inches of snow per year!) In 2020 the area experienced a large snowstorm that created power outages and treacherous road conditions. 

Other winters can be milder but snowfall in Gatlinburg can be unpredictable, so plan accordingly.

snow in pigeon forge in november

Gatlinburg Stats

While Gatlinburg typically doesn’t get hit with severe winter weather, there are times – like we mentioned above – that it’s possible to get stuck in a more severe storm as a local or visitor.

Back to that Sevier County storm of 2020 – of course it was in 2020! – several out-of-town cabin visitors found themselves stranded in the natural elements for days. Numerous roads were impassable, with power outages abruptly impacting Christmas Day wintertime fun.

This isn’t meant to scare you – just the opposite! We’re sharing this to make sure you’re informed and prepared in the unlikely event you, too, get stuck in severe Tennessee snowfall.

Let’s go over some creative and practical ways to maximize your time in the Gatlinburg snowfall, including safety storm prep that may or may not include some moonshine hot chocolate. Cheers! 

Snow in Gatlinburg – What You Need to Know

  1. Know National Park and In-Town Road Closures
  2. Stay Informed on Cancellation Policies
  3. Pour Some Moonshine in your Hot Chocolate
  4. Bring a 4WD or Snow Chains
  5. Spend Time Skiing Down the Mountain
  6. Bring a Heavy Winter Jacket and Insulated Shoes
  7. Keep a Pulse on Delivery Options
  8. Have a Backup Light and Heat Source
  9. Wait It Out

snow in gatlinburg

1. Know National Park and In-Town Road Closures

If you’re heading in and out of the national park during the wintertime season, you’ll want to educate yourself on park closures, as some roads may become impassable due to high snowfall.

For a continually up-to-date resource on seasonally open roads, visit the Great Smoky Mountains website for more information.

All of these roads are open at different times, weather permitting, but you’ll still want to stay informed if you’re arriving near peak snowfall or subsequent icy conditions. The National Park Service works hard to ensure you stay informed, so take heed and visit their website or Twitter page.

As for in-town road closures, we really like the Gatlinburg town website for up-to-date information about road closures and events to consider when the mountains are calling your name.

2. Stay Informed on Cancellation Policies

flight restrictions
Unlike rain in the Gatlinburg area, inclement snow in Gatlinburg is a bit rare – but you should still stay informed on your accommodations’ various cancellation policies.

If you don’t feel comfortable driving on snow or ice (We see you, Atlanta!), it may be best to postpone your trip until the snow melts and you can drive around the mountains with peace of mind.

Since alternative options are available, you don’t have to push your way through a situation that makes you uncomfortable just to get content for your social media. We promise the Smokies will be here when you rebook!

3. Pour Some Moonshine in your Hot Chocolate

traditional christmas drink eggnog
You’ve made it to Gatlinburg and the weather looks driveable tomorrow, but today? Not so much. Sometimes you just need to call it what it is: a snow day. But luckily, you’re in moonshine country, so your hot chocolate is about to get a little spicier.

Grab some of the best hot chocolate in town from The Donut Friar and pour in some local moonshine for a fun hang out with friends. Or, if you happen to be in Gatlinburg during the holidays, we highly recommend getting some eggnog moonshine from Ole Smoky before the storm hits.

They call it Shine Nog – we just call it delicious.

4. Bring a 4WD or Snow Chains

snow chains
If you’re driving a rental car, this one may be a bit difficult – but snow chains or a 4WD (4 Wheel Drive) car certainly can help when passing through these mountains.

Although snow chains can’t promise 100% prevention, they’re a great tool if you’re traveling in your own car.

Vehicles like Subarus and CR-Vs are typically going to be better up slippery slopes than trucks, so try not to power through this rodeo, cowboy. We don’t want to have to tow you out!

5. Spend Time Skiing Down the Mountain

snow boarding break
Speaking of slopes, we love the Ober Gatlinburg experience, which offers year-round entertainment, from songwriting festivals to shopping to winter skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing (Aw, yeah!). 

Let’s focus on those winter activities for a second: typically, their ski and snowboard season starts in early to mid-December, lasting until around mid-March.

But perhaps you’ve learned from your many trips, avid traveler, sometimes Mother Nature has her own plans – so ski accordingly. Meet you at the bottom!

6. Bring a Heavy Winter Jacket and Insulated Shoes

forest park
Heading back into a practical mode, it’s incredibly important to wear insulative clothes to keep yourself protected from colder temps.

If you feel like your own winter jacket and shoes aren’t cutting it for the incoming weather, we suggest checking out NOC Gatlinburg for some jacket and boots options.

They’ve got The North Face, Columbia, Keen, their own NOC gear, and more to help you stay warm during freezes. Trust us – your winter wonderland won’t be nearly as wonderful without proper gear to protect you from a chilly winter Gatlinburg snowfall.

7. Keep a Pulse on Delivery Options

food delivery man
Staying up in a cabin during your trip to the Gatlinburg area? Lucky you! In the event of heavy and unprecedented snowfall or winter weather, you’ll want to get a pulse on local grocery stores, restaurants, and their delivery options.

Especially if you’re up in a more remote area, restaurants and cafes may be harder to come by, so you’ll either want to bring your own food up from the store or get a handle on who delivers. Or hey, do both – you’re on vacation! Just be safe.

And if you’re using delivery like Uber Eats, be sure to tip your driver who is traversing up mountain roads for your own warm meal! Keep paying it forward, y’all.

8. Have a Backup Light and Heat Source

power outage
This one is actually really important: make sure to have a backup light and heat source. As the folks in the winter of 2020 found out quickly, unprecedented weather patterns may occur on vacations or staycations.

That’s why we always have a flashlight and numerous batteries and candles available, as well as a couple of lighters and matchboxes to be on the safe side (A lantern also works!).

Utilizing a first aid and inclement weather kit for your trip is a great idea, and you’ll want to have options, especially if you don’t want to drain your phone via the Flashlight setting. You’ve got this!

9. Wait It Out

Lastly, if conditions just seem too treacherous for travel due to snowfall in Gatlinburg, just play it safe. Wait it out with some spiked hot chocolate or tea, make snow angels, and use this quality time with your friends and family to learn more about each other.

Traveling by yourself? Well, we know of a great moonshine company to treat yourself to… Stay safe, everyone, and safe travels!