These Are the Rainiest – and Least Rainy – Months in Gatlinburg

rainy sky with gatlinburg space needle in tennessee

Gatlinburg's location in the mountains makes its climate different than nearby areas at lower elevations (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

How Gatlinburg sees a surprising amount of rain compared to the rest of the country

When visiting an outdoorsy destination like Gatlinburg, the weather might be top of mind. Gatlinburg has a temperate climate. For example, last summer, my family and I experienced some Gatlinburg climate magic. While the rest of the southeastern United States was languishing under an intense heat wave, Gatlinburg was seeing high temperatures around 78 or 79 degrees. When my husband and I lived in Knoxville, we used to drive up to Clingmans Dome as soon as the roads opened in April each year. And even though spring had sprung in the foothills, it was always fun to see snow drifts on the sides of the freshly paved road. 

Rain can also be a major factor when planning a trip to Gatlinburg. Many of the most popular attractions that draw visitors to the Smokies are outside. Some may close during heavy showers or thunderstorms. Fortunately, there are many indoor attractions guests can visit when it’s raining. Even so, it’s best to come prepared with both a rain jacket and/or umbrella and some basic knowledge of Gatlinburg’s climate. July is the wettest and hottest month in Gatlinburg, and October sees the least rainfall.

summer celebration sign at dollywood theme park
Dollywood’s Summer Celebration could be rainy, so be prepared (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

3 rainiest months (in inches)

The highest proportion of Gatlinburg’s rain comes in late spring and early summer.

  • July has an average of 5.8 inches of rain
  • June averages 5.6 inches
  • May sees 5.4 inches of rain on average

Despite the increased rain, June and July are popular months for visiting Gatlinburg because of the summer holidays for school children. The good news about summer rain in the southeast is that it typically doesn’t last all day. Most of the time, afternoon rain showers sweep through an area quickly. So if you visit in the summer, the rain shouldn’t have too big of an impact on your outdoor plans.

View of Cades Cove in the fall from Rich Mountain Road, Church is in the Background
A view of Cades Cove from Rich Mountain Road in the Smoky Mountains National Park in the fall, which is the least likely season to encounter rain (photo by John Gullion/TheSmokies.com)

3 least rainy months (in inches)

Generally speaking, autumn is the least rainy season in Gatlinburg.

  • October is the month with the least rain in Gatlinburg at just 2.7 inches
  • November is the second driest month with just 4 inches of rain
  • September is a close third with 4.1 inches of rain on average

Lower chances of rain combined with breathtaking fall foliage combine to make fall a popular time to visit the Smokies.

waters rise up to the bridge downtown
Safety precautions forced some businesses to close during some high water after rain in Gatlinburg (photo by Corey Wagner/TheSmokies.com)

How Gatlinburg stacks up nationwide for rain

Gatlinburg sees an average annual rainfall of 54 inches per year, plus 7 inches of snow. In comparison, the United States averages 38 inches of rainfall per year, plus 28 inches of snow. Both Gatlinburg and the U.S. average for sunny days each year is 205. In terms of high temperatures, Gatlinburg is fairly close to the U.S. average at around 85 degrees in July. However, Gatlinburg winters are milder than the U.S. average. The January, the low temperature is 26 degrees in Gatlinburg. The U.S. average is chillier at just 21 degrees.

So, it’s important to remember that Gatlinburg’s location up in the mountains makes its climate a bit different than nearby areas at lower elevations. In the summer, it’s slightly cooler. In the winter, it’s also slightly cooler and you might see more snowfall! The late spring and early summer months of May, June and July have the highest average monthly rainfall. If avoiding rain is important to you, plan your trip during October, when there is typically only 2.7 inches of rain. November and September also have below-average monthly rainfall.

Are you planning a trip to the Smoky Mountains? Be sure to check out our coupons page for area promos.

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