Smoky Mountains in January: Events in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge (2024)

Smoky Mountains in January

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Thinking about a winter getaway?

January is a peaceful time to visit the Smoky Mountains and the surrounding areas of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville in Tennessee.

After the New Year and Christmas, many of the crowds have dissipated yet visitors can still enjoy a winter wonderland since the Smoky Mountain Winterfest celebration officially continues until mid-February.

The traffic is usually much better in January as well, at least on the weekdays.

But be warned, since January is one of our slowest months of the year, some area attractions, theaters and restaurants may revert to a limited winter schedule or close entirely.

For example, the Dollywood theme park and Shadrack’s light show will soon be closed for the remainder of the season.

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a snow covered rainbow falls trail sign
The trick to snow-spotting in the Smokies is a combination of luck and actively seeking out higher elevations (photo by Morgan Overholt/

Things to do in the Smoky Mountains in January

Below, you will find a list of local events happening throughout the area. Cities covered include Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Kodak, Sevierville and Townsend.

Some of our personal recommendations include sightseeing at Anakeesta (but be aware of Anakeesta’s limited operating hours in January), skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing on the slopes at Ober Mountain (formerly Ober Gatlinburg), ice skating at Wilderness at the Smokies (in early January) and visiting with the penguins at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

A highly suggested activity inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is checking out historical sites and wildlife spotting along the drivable Cades Cove Loop (if weather permits).

You can take a winter hike to either Laurel Falls or Grotto Falls (by way of Trillium Gap Trail), both of which feature beautiful waterfalls. This time of year, they can sometimes freeze and form ice formations or beautiful icicles.

The Alum Cave Trail and Rainbow Falls are also popular hiking trails to explore. If you’re looking for higher elevations, take a scenic drive on Newfound Gap Road at an elevation of 5,046 feet.

This time of year, be on the lookout for seasonal road closures. Clingmans Dome Road, Roaring Fork and Rich Mountain Road are popular roads that have winter closures in the area.

Finally, be sure to take in a bit of bluegrass at one of our many live music venues (available on select nights). You can usually find live music at the local Hard Rock Cafe, Ole Red, Puckett’s, The Listening Room Cafe and Smoky Mountain Brewery (schedules may vary).

Be sure to click on the “details” button for additional information about each event.

heated jeep pink jeep in pigeon forge
If you’re looking for a warm way to explore nature in the chilly season (typically November through February) without suffering, try a heated Pink Jeep Tour for some toasty winter fun (photo by Alaina O’Neal/

Weather in the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg in January

While witnessing a true winter storm is a pretty rare event – January remains the coldest month of the year in the Smokies.

Temperatures usually range from the mid-30s to the low-20s in the high elevations with a total monthly precipitation of 7 inches.

In the low elevations, you can expect to see temperatures ranging from the low 50s to the 20s with average snowfall in January between 2-4 inches.

If you’re planning on renting a cabin, bring a front- or all-wheel drive vehicle if possible and be sure to stash some emergency groceries, bottled water and snacks just in case.

And don’t forget – it tends to rain quite a bit in the Smokies. In fact, you might see more rainfall than snow during your trip. Pack an umbrella and warm ponchos for good measure.

a man in downtown gatlinburg looks cold in the snow while wearing a heavy winter jacket and a hat
Pack winter gear for your January trip to the Smokies – it’s going to be cold! (photo by Morgan Overholt/

What should you wear in the Smoky Mountains in January?

You’ll want to wear plenty of layers and pack warm clothes when visiting the Smokies in January. The air is cold. The wind can be harsh, and rain can feel piercing.

Expect fewer hours of daylight on an average day. Sunset usually falls at about 5:30 pm and sunrise around 7:30 am.

Bring long rain-friendly winter coats, hats, gloves, scarves, thick socks and sturdy shoes with decent tread in case of ice.

Temperatures won’t typically feel warm again until about March or April.

people gathered around fire pit at anakeesta
Enjoy some hot chocolate by one of the fire pits at Anakeesta (photo by Morgan Overholt/

How busy is Gatlinburg in January? Crowd sizes in the Smokies

The Smokies and the surrounding areas are popular tourist attractions pretty much year-round.

However, January is one of our lesser crowded months, largely due to the Dollywood being closed in January and February and the sometimes uncomfortably cold temperatures.

Even Anakeesta, another popular area theme park, switches to a limited operating schedule during the months of January and February.

In fact, weekdays in January are probably the only time you can really walk through downtown Gatlinburg mid-week without feeling claustrophobic, or drive down the Parkway at the posted speed limit.

But weekends are another story entirely. Weekends will still draw plenty of visitors and crowds. Albeit, slightly smaller crowds than you might experience during the summer.

Martin Luther King Day in Gatlinburg

MLK Day, aside from New Year’s Day, is one of the most popular holidays in the Smokies in January.

Each year, marchers gather in downtown Sevierville to honor the civil rights leader and his legacy. And the annual MLK Day Parade can be seen making its way down Court Avenue, Bruce and Commerce Streets in Sevierville.

Most major attractions, even those otherwise operating on weekend-only schedules, usually remain open for the long weekend.

Are you planning an upcoming trip to the Smokies in January? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’re a local attraction that would like to add an event to our calendar, please contact our editorial team.

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Photo of author


Morgan Overholt

Morgan is the founder Morgan Media LLC, a graphic design agency and the co-founder of LLC – a media company that specializes in regional travel sites.

9 thoughts on “Smoky Mountains in January: Events in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge (2024)”

  1. We are suprising our 3 teenagers to with a trip to Gatlinburg Jan 13-17th 2022!
    First time for all of us. We live in Orlando & are hoping to see some snow! Any must do must sees please pass along! Thanks for the info! See you soon.

  2. my granddaughter and I are coming January 29th-30th, It is her 18th birthday and wants to come to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg. What fun things can we enjoy

  3. My son and I will be coming to the are January 3 through the 7. Looking forward to a great trip

  4. My husband and me are coming for our 45th Anniversary January 15 to 17th. We’re are doing the Hat fields and Mccoy dinner show. Hope it’s not to crowded. Anything we should know and look for we haven’t been In a long while.

  5. I am going to pigeon forge January 28-31 with a large group of people. Is is safe to drive regular vehicles and what are some nice attractions to visit during this time?

  6. My boyfriend and I are planning on coming Jan 28 – 30th for our 6 year anniversary. I’d like to make an itinerary to get the most attractions possible in such a short time. Are there any discounts available and how can I get help planning a personalized itinerary to help with openings, show showtime, best route to follow without backtracking.
    Some of the things we’d like to do is…
    Sky Wheel
    Drive thru Lights in gatlinburg
    Snow tubing at ober
    Possibly comedy show
    Sky lift park

  7. My daughter in law and I and my 3 granddaughters are coming January 28th-30th for my birth! What fun things can we do?

  8. Hi Nancy! Certainly, check out either Anakeesta or SkyLift Park (or both!) around downtown Gatlinburg – you also may enjoy shopping around The Island in Pigeon Forge or listening to some live music at The Listening Room Cafe! There are several options, it just depends on what you’re interested in! Remember that Dollywood is closed for the season and some dinner shows are running on a limited schedule. Hope that helps! Happy birthday!

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