3 Can’t-Miss Things to Do When It Snows in Gatlinburg, Smoky Mountains

downtown gatlinburg in the snow

Gatlinburg is a beautiful site in the snow (photo by Corey Wagner/TheSmokies.com)

Get the inside scoop on things to do when it snows in Gatlinburg from a local

There’s nothing quite like a Smoky Mountain snowfall. We’ve discovered a newfound love of snow we never knew until we became residents in East Tennessee. You see, I never cared for snow much in Ohio. Whenever the weather turned cold and snow was forecast, we wanted to crawl into the bed, crank the heat, and stay inside. My, how the tides have turned! Now, we appreciate snow more than ever. With this in mind, let me tell you the three best things to do in Gatlinburg when it snows.

When it snows in Gatlinburg, the weather may be cold, but you can still enjoy your family vacation in the beautiful Smoky Mountains. The scenery is spectacular and you can participate in fun activities and attractions for all ages. I recommend checking out Ober Mountain, hiking the Gatlinburg Trail or taking a stroll through downtown Gatlinburg.

Snow Tubing Ober Mountain
Guests enjoy snow tubing on Ober Mountain in winter (photo courtesy of Ober Mountain)

1. Visit Ober Mountain

When it snows in the Smokies, visit Ober Mountain – the area’s only skiing and snow tubing attraction. It’s a great way to spend a day enjoying the snow. I may not be the best person to ask for skiing advice, but nothing is more reminiscent of childhood than going tubing. The “hills” in Ohio have nothing on the ones at this top winter destination. For instance, the Tubing Hill at Ober is 350 feet long with a 50-foot drop. It’s more thrilling than any slope I ever went down as a Midwestern kid. What’s best is, that you don’t have to be the biggest thrill-seeker to get a comforting rush from these.

I’m a big fan of taking the Aerial Tramway up the mountain (especially when it snows). At the time of this writing, the Aerial Tramway is $29 per person (children under 5 are free). The Tramway entrance is located at 1001 Parkway in Gatlinburg. (Pro-Tip: Be sure you can usually save $2 per ticket when you book through Tripster before you go).

If you want to save a bit of money you can also drive up to Ober and just pay for parking ($20 per standard vehicle at the time of this writing). To drive to the top follow the signs posted near the Parkway storefront. Ober’s address is 1339 Ski Mountain Rd. For additional information check out the Ober Mountain website.

A trailhead sign for The Gatlinburg Trail
The Gatlinburg Trail is walkable from downtown Gatlinburg (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

2. Hike The Gatlinburg Trail

Smoky Mountain roads are susceptible to closures in the winter. However, one such trail is immune to it. The Gatlinburg Trail is accessible at the end of River Road near light #10 in Gatlinburg. That means, if you just park downtown or walk from your hotel, you can walk straight to the trailhead. I have done this hike many times, and it’s just as beautiful in winter snow as it is in summer heat.

It’s a popular trail for many reasons other than its convenience. Novice hikers love it for its relative ease, due to few inclines. Also, the trail is one of only two dog-friendly in the Smokies (Oconaluftee River Trail is the other). I can spend a couple of hours walking it and enjoying the sounds and scenes of the Little Pigeon River–another benefit of this winter stroll.

Downtown Gatlinburg in the Snow
Downtown Gatlinburg in the snow (photo by Corey Wagner/TheSmokies.com)

3. Take a winter stroll along the strip in Gatlinburg

For me, one of the best things–and first thing–I did when it snowed in Gatlinburg was dress warmly and take in a heart-warming scene with a simple walk. Watching a snowfall in Gatlinburg doesn’t cost a thing. As a result, it’s my top thing to do when it snows. The little things count here, always have, and always will. 

Observing the snowflakes floating to the ground in this alluring area is always so peaceful and inspiring. I truly believe it surpasses anything you can pay to do in Gatlinburg. I understand if you want to stay at your cabin and watch nature’s beauty; that’s an excellent idea too. Standing underneath a blanket of snowflakes in the Smoky Mountains is a wonderful way to recharge the batteries whether you’re a local or a visitor.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Gatlinburg when it snows? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to scope out area coupons and discounts when planning your next trip to the Smoky Mountains.

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Disclosure: We have used and experienced all the products and activities recommended on The Smokies. We may receive compensation when you click on links to some products and experiences featured.