It’s Going To Rain Every Day of My Smokies Vacation. Should I Cancel?

red weather forecast on phone inside the dollywood theme park

Dollywood usually stays open in the rain, but rides may close if there is lightning (photo by Morgan Overholt/

Smoky Mountain native offers tips on vacationing with a rainy forecast

Editor’s Note: The following is a new advice series where readers can write in and get personalized advice from Smoky Mountain travel experts. Do you have a question that you would like us to answer? Email us at


I booked my trip to the Great Smoky Mountains over a year ago. We’ve never been before, and I’m so excited to take my family of four – my husband and two daughters who are now 5 and 8. But now that the trip is getting closer, I see that the forecast says it’s going to rain every day!

I have already spent what feels like a small fortune on this vacation – about $2,000 on the cabin, another $2,000 on plane tickets and $500 on pre-purchased attraction tickets.

Honestly, I’m so worried the weather will ruin our vacation. We had planned to spend a lot of time outdoors, going to the top attractions like Dollywood, Anakeesta, and, of course, hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This might be our only chance to go to the mountains for a while, and my kids LOVE Dolly Parton. They had their hearts set on seeing her theme park in Pigeon Forge. But I also don’t think the park would be much fun in the rain. What should I do? Please help!!

– Rain, rain, go away
guests sitting on the dollywood tram in the rain
Dollywood guests ride the parking tram in the middle of a downpour (photo by Daniel Munson/


Dear Rain,

My best advice? Don’t let a little rain deter your whole trip! Rain is common in the Smoky Mountains, especially in the late spring and summer. In fact, July is the rainiest month in the Smokies, averaging about 5.8 inches of rain. The good news? Most of the time, afternoon rain showers sweep through the area quickly. Personally, for me, a little rain has never ruined a day in the mountains. In fact, it often makes it better since it can thin an otherwise thick crowd of people.

Also, keep in mind that weather forecasts can change frequently. Keep checking the weather and plan accordingly. When it comes to rain at Dollywood, as long as it’s not lightning, (see the official weather guidelines here) the rides usually stay open. And the good news is, the lines are usually much shorter! And if the weather does close the rides, you can always catch one of their many shows or even get a rain check for another day. In other words, guest services can issue a one-day ticket if your visit is shortened by rain. For this reason, also consider doing your Dollywood day earlier in the trip, and leave some wiggle room for the end of the trip if you need to re-visit.

The same is more or less true for Anakeesta. If rides are closed for more than one hour due to weather during your visit, Anakeesta will issue a rainy-day voucher for a return trip.

If heavy rain is expected all day, it might be safe to plan for an indoor attraction that day. For example, visit the Titanic in Pigeon Forge or Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg, and then see one of the area’s dinner shows in the evening. Now, is the weather forecast predicting a lot of rain? You may want to watch out for flooding and know what to do when there is flooding in the area.

Finally, if you are hiking, take a few ponchos with you. And be extra cautious about creeks. A little rain never hurts, but the key to hiking safely is being prepared. I hope this puts your mind at ease, and I wish you a great vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains!

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