While snow is possible in the other parts of the state, your best bet is concentrated in a small area in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the far southeastern part of Tennessee.
We live here and created this list to give you the best chance to see snow in our area.
Your chances start increasing at higher elevations, and our guide concentrates on that for the best chances.
For most of the Volunteer State, because of the lower elevations and humid subtropical climate, you don’t have a great chance of seeing snow during your visit. Many cities only get several inches of snow during the year.
- Pigeon Forge snowfall per year: 6
- Clingman’s Dome snowfall per year: 84″
Where to find snow
All our top choices are located within a small area of eastern Tennessee, and focused around the Gatlinburg area. This area gives you the best chance to find snow within a short drive. It’s also a great place to stay on vacation, and during winter, hotel rates are much lower than summer!
East Tennessee weather is unpredictable, and the snow can be hard to find on specific dates. Our first visit to Tennessee before moving here on spring break in March. During that week, we saw 70 degrees, and three inches of snow!
Gatlinburg makes a great base camp, but the city itself isn’t guaranteed to have snow. Gatlinburg gets around 8 inches of snow per year, but there are only a few times of the year when you’re likely to see snow in downtown.
Visiting on Christmas? It may be 60 degrees. Or you may be lucky and get a winter storm like we did in 2020, with snow on Christmas!
Gatlinburg is in a valley, and the mountains around the city are more likely to have snow.
The small mountains immediately surrounding the city aren’t much higher, but they give you a better chance and are accessible via cable car or ski lifts.
At Ober Mountain, you’re almost guaranteed to see it, thanks to manmade snow machines. Several other chair lifts, including Anakeesta, go from downtown up the mountains.
You’re also a short drive from some higher-elevation areas, which we’ll list below.
Ober Mountain (formerly Ober Gatlinburg) is a ski resort and amusement park in Gatlinburg. It’s accessible from a ski lift that leaves from downtown Gatlinburg. There are plenty of things to do in the snowy season, like ski slopes, snowboarding, tubing, and an indoor ice skating rink.
Being the only ski resort in Tennessee, it’s almost guaranteed to have snow from snowmaking machines. In the picture above, the temperature was in the 50s during our February visit.
Ober Mountain is only about 1,000 feet higher than downtown Gatlinburg. With it being 2-3 degrees colder temperatures than Gatlinburg, it’s not much more likely to have real snow. However, when it gets close to freezing or starts snowing in Gatlinburg, the snow totals can be much bigger up here!
Ober Mountain is the only place in Gatlinburg for snow tubing, though Pigeon Forge has several other choices.
Want the best chance at seeing snow? Head south from Gatlinburg on Newfound Gap Road. But before you go, check the National Parks road closure website; it does close due to snow. The picture below is just south of Gatlinburg, by the Sugarlands visitor center, and shows the road closed after we got 2-3 inches of snow in Gatlinburg.
As you head up into the Great Smoky Mountains from Gatlinburg, Newfound Gap gives you your best chance in the search for snow.
At an elevation of approximately 5,046 feet, it’s one of the highest points accessible by car in the area. It’s often 10 degrees cooler up here than it is in Gatlinburg.
And Newfound Gap gets over 5 feet of snow yearly, much more than the 9″ Gatlinburg averages.
The gap offers stunning views year-round. It’s on our list as one of the best free things to do in Gatlinburg. In the winter, it offers amazing views of the snow-covered mountains, making it a great spot for photographs.
In the summer time, continue past Newfound Gap to Clingmans Dome (the highest point in Tennessee). The road to Clingmans Dome is closed during the winter to vehicles, but open if you’re up for a long hike. At over 6,000 ft, Clingmans Dome gets close to 100 inches of snow per year.
If you’re seeking a winter holiday spot full of adventure and excitement, go no farther than Tennessee. Make your