July in the Smokies is all about finding ways to beat the heat and celebrate our American independence.
Sure, daytime temperatures are scorching and traffic is thick. However, with so many ways to cool off and so many things to do, no one ever really seems to mind.
And of course, the area’s main attraction – the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – is bustling.
Expect crowds at some of the more popular destinations in the park, like the Clingmans Dome observation tower (the highest point in the Smoky Mountains located on the North Carolina side), the Cades Cove Loop Road and even the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
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Best things to do in July in the Smoky Mountains
The Cades Cove Loop and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail are two of the area’s most visited scenic drives. These can be great options during the summer months when an air-conditioned view of the mountains is preferred by many.
Also, they also make for great wildlife spotting locations. Expect to see wild turkey, deer and, if you’re lucky, maybe even a few black bears.
You may also want to consider bringing a packed lunch and enjoy a peaceful meal inside the park at one of the many picnic areas.
And if you’re headed to the Loop, be sure to stop by Big Dude Rock Ranch for a bit of horseback riding located conveniently on the way to the Cove from the Pigeon Forge Parkway.
Just be sure to do a bit of research before you go. The national park now requires parking tags for all visitors.
And of course, don’t forget about the area’s second-biggest attraction: The Dollywood theme park.
Dollywood is home to a plethora of record-breaking coasters, incredible shows and fun activities for the whole family.
There’s also Dollywood’s Splash Country and Soaky Mountain – Sevier County’s premier waterparks. And trust us, there’s no better way to beat the summer heat.
Also in the month of July, the city of Gatlinburg features Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales. This special event is a summer-long street performance with costumed musical performers, dancers and storytellers that take to the streets of Gatlinburg. Daily performances are typically from 6 pm to 10 pm.
For additional activities and things to do, be sure to check out our events calendar below.
Weather in the Smoky Mountains in July
Speaking of heat – expect plenty of hot summer days in the Smokies in July.
Weather conditions will be predominately sunny with warm days and cool nights. You can also expect occasional afternoon thunderstorms.
The average high hovers right around 83 degrees during the day in the low elevations, which cools off to a comfortable low-60s at night and in the early morning.
Also, take note that temperatures in high elevations like Mt. LeConte, Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome tend to be about 10 degrees cooler than everywhere else.
So the colder-natured members of your party may still want to pack a light sweater or jacket if you plan on venturing into the mountains.
Speaking of attire …
What should you wear in the Smoky Mountains in July?
We recommend tees, tanks, shorts, comfortable walking shoes and light sweaters for those aforementioned cool spots.
Also, don’t forget to pack some light rain gear and mosquito repellant. July weather in the Smoky Mountains is ideal for those pesky mosquitos – which are unfortunately abundant.
How busy is Gatlinburg in July? A look at crowd sizes
Look, the Smokies may be famous for beautiful fall colors and festive winter months.
However, summertime is the true peak season in the Smoky Mountains.
Expect thick traffic – especially on Saturday mornings – crowded parking lots and packed restaurants.
Plan ahead as much as possible. Allow extra time for driving even short distances. And make reservations whenever and wherever possible.
July 4th in the Smoky Mountains
And we’d be amiss if we didn’t mention the month’s biggest holiday – July 4th.
There are plenty of Independence Day-themed activities and July celebrations like parades, shows and firework displays to explore every holiday weekend in the Smokies.
The 4th of July parade is famous for being the first parade in the country, kicking off around midnight. The area also offers fun events like the River Raft Regatta and activities at Patriot Park that feature live musicians and entertainers.
But again, crowds may be an issue.
Stay a step ahead of the crowds by getting a reservation at one of the area’s rooftop viewing parties.
SkyLift Park also usually hosts a fireworks viewing party from the SkyBridge. But be warned, tickets to that event usually sell out weeks in advance.
If you’d rather avoid the crowds altogether, just rent a cabin near downtown Gatlinburg or find a nearby hotel with a downtown-view balcony and enjoy the Space Needle fireworks from the comfort of your own home away from home, mason jar in hand.
Either way, you’ll be sure to have a great time.
Pro-tip: Many members of our staff have stayed at this little cozy cabin within walking distance of downtown Gatlinburg attractions with a hot tub and unobstructed views of the Space Needle. Talk about one of the best ways to see the fireworks!
Are you planning a summer vacation in the Smoky Mountains? Let us know in the comments below.
If you own or operate a local attraction in the Smokies and wish to add your event to the calendar, please contact our editorial team here.