Gatlinburg Tennessee Snow: Gatlinburg In December

Best Places To See Snow In Tennessee: Top 4 Vacation Locations

Best Places To See Snow

Because of its mild winters and the breathtaking scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the eastern part of Tennessee is the perfect place for a winter getaway. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons we made Tennessee our home.

But how much snow can you expect? 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, as many cities only get several inches of snow during the year. However, the odds really start to increase at the higher elevations, and you’ll find the most snow anywhere in Tennessee, plus many of the other southern states.

During our first visit to Tennessee before moving here, when asking about the weather during spring break in March, we were told it could be 70 degrees or there could be a blizzard. Sure enough, we saw both the week we were there!

So, let’s get to it: The best places to see snow in Tennessee

Best Places To See Snow In Tennessee

The places in this article located within a small area of eastern Tennessee, and focused around the Gatlinburg area, which is our top pick:

1: Gatlinburg TN & Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort


The small town of Gatlinburg in east Tennessee (see our guide of the best things to do with kids) is our top choice if you’re looking for real snow, and a great family vacation destination in Tennessee.

The city itself isn’t guaranteed to have snow, in fact, there are only a few times of year when you’re likely to see snow in downtown Gatlinburg. However, the mountain range around the city is much more likely to have snow, and the cable car from downtown Gatlinburg will take you up Ober Mountain, where you’re almost guaranteed to see the white stuff. Several other chair lifts go from downtown up the mountains, including the Skywalk bridge and Anakeesta.

You’re also a short drive from some of the higher elevation areas.

Gatlinburg Snow: Best Places To See Snow In Tennessee

There’s a good reason why Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is such a popular winter holiday spot: it has everything a traveler might want in a mountain getaway. Located in the midst of the Tennessee Smoky Mountains, this quaint city is well-known for its beautiful beauty and fun winter events. With all the lights and decorations, downtown becomes a winter wonderland in the colder months.

The ariel tramway or ski lift is one of the top things to do in Gatlinburg in the winter because of the spectacular views it provides of the surrounding mountains. Imagine yourself on a relaxing flight over a wintry landscape. An unforgettable memory for the whole family!

Gatlinburg, TN, is the place to be this winter if you want to experience the best of both a tiny town and a winter paradise.

Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg is a ski resort and amusement park in Gatlinburg. It has plenty of things to do in the snowy season, like ski slopes, snowboarding, and tubing, as well as an indoor ice skating rink. In addition to winter sports, Ober Gatlinburg is open year-round and has summer activities, like an aerial tramway, an alpine slide, an encounter with wildlife, and a scenic chairlift.

The ski resort at Ober Gatlinburg has nine ski trails, ranging from beginner to advanced levels, as well as three chairlifts and a surface lift. There is also a terrain park for snowboarders and freestyle skiers. The resort offers equipment rentals and ski lessons for beginners.

During the summer months, visitors to Ober Gatlinburg can enjoy the amusement park attractions, which include the alpine slide, a mountain coaster, a water raft ride, mini-golf, and a scenic chairlift. The wildlife encounter at Ober Gatlinburg features a variety of animals, including black bears, river otters, and birds of prey.

The winter resort of Ober Gatlinburg and provide visitors with more than just ski and snowboarding. These ski resorts have everything a winter vacationer could want, from ice skating to snow tubing. December through February is often the best time to visit these ski resorts because snow fall is at its peak and temperatures are at their lowest. During this time, the Tennessee mountains receive an average of up to ten inches of snowfall depending on the elevation, making it the ideal time for a wintry excursion.

Looking to snow tube instead of ski? Check out our list of the best places near Gatlinburg during snow tubing season. Including some ideas for summer tubing.

Top Places To Stay In Gatlinburg

Our favorite resort in Gatlinburg is the Margaritaville Resort, where we’ve stayed several times. It’s a newer hotel and has a great location within walking distance to everything in Gatlinburg, and has reasonable prices during the winter.

Or see our list of amazing Tennessee mountain cabins with indoor pools. All of these cabins are located within a short drive of Gatlinburg. Some may require 4WD vehicles to access during snow.

Here’s a list of some of the best hotels and VRBOs in Gatlinburg. Gatlinburg is a compact, easy to walk town. Our recommendation is to stay somewhere around where this map is centered on, or slightly to the right, along 441.

2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Snow Near Gatlinburg

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the best parts of living in Tennessee, is a great place to see snow and take in beautiful scenery. Newfound Gap Road, Cades Cove, and Alum Cave Trail are all located in the park’s upper altitudes, where you’re more likely to encounter several feet of snow and breathtaking mountain views.

We took the picture above during a scenic drive between Gatlinburg and Cades Cove. This road follows the river and has some amazing views. Another top scenic drive is the Roaring Fork Motor Trail

The road to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains, is closed to cars as of November 30 until spring. The road is still open, though, for hikers who want to see the beautiful snowy scenery. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great place to spend a snowy holiday, whether you want to do winter sports, explore the park’s natural wonders, or spend time with your family.

Where To See Snow In Tennessee. Some Roads Are Closed During Winter.

The above photo was the point one of the roads was closed to traffic during our first visit.

Consult the Road Conditions Link from the National Parks Service, as many higher elevation roads are not plowed and close during the winter season. Due to the low average snowfall in the area, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the few places in the south where you can see a winter wonderland.

3. Pigeon Forge

Pigeon Forge is a great place for a winter vacation with the family. It is about 20 minutes north of Gatlinburg. A hugely popular summer destination, Pigeon Forge can be a great winter destination too. The reason it’s lower on our list is because Pigeon Forge typically receives slightly less snow than Gatlinburg, and doesn’t have surrounding mountains with cable cars and chairlift access. However, it’s so close to Gatlinburg that it’s easy to get between the two towns.

Pigeon Forge Tn

Pigeon Forge’s location is undeniably one of the city’s strongest points. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the beautiful area around it are both easy to get to for visitors. Explore the park’s beautiful surroundings, which include stunning views of the mountains, and then head back to the city for a cozy night with all the comforts of home.

Snow tubing is a favorite among Pigeon Forge visitors during the winter months. Pigeon Forge Snow is an indoor snow tubing facility that you can enjoy any time of year. There are multiple snow tubing lanes at the attraction, all of which are covered in artificial snow. Visitors can take part in a variety of winter-themed activities, such as tubing down the slopes and playing in the snow.

Our guide has all the other top things to do with kids in Pigeon Forge.

Where To Stay Near Pigeon Forge

A great place to stay is The Wilderness at the Smokies, a resort for families in nearby Sevierville, Tennessee. This resort features a huge indoor water park, and during the summer also has a giant outdoor water park. During the winter, the outdoor wave pool at the resort is temporarily turned into an indoor ice skating rink. This lets people go ice skating in the wintertime, which is a popular activity for tourists.

The Wilderness at the Smokies is home to ice skating as well as water parks, go-karts, laser tag, mini golf, and many more exciting attractions and activities. With its many lodging and dining options, the resort is perfect for parties of all sizes looking for a relaxing and entertaining getaway.

Margaritaville Island Pigeon Forge, like it’s sister property in Gatlinburg, is another favorite place of ours in Pigeon Forge. This located at The Island in Pigeon Forge puts you close to all the action.

Here are some of the other best deals on VRBOs and hotels in Pigeon Forge:

4. Lookout Mountain

Several hours to the south from Gatlinburg is Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain. Lookout Mountain. goes from Tennessee to Georgia and is known for its beautiful scenery, places to enjoy outdoor activities, and historical importance. During the Civil War, the Battle of Lookout Mountain took place there. Lookout Mountain is also home to popular attractions such as Rock City Gardens, Ruby Falls, and the Incline Railway. This area is an easy drive from the Atlanta area and is one of our favorite weekend trips.

Lookout Mountain Chattanooga
View of Chattanooga, Tennessee from Lookout Mountain

The mountain is in a part of the country that usually gets some snow in the winter, but the amount can change from year to year depending on how the weather is.

Where To Stay Near Lookout Mountain

Our choice would be to stay in downtown Chattanooga, just a short drive from Lookout Mountain. This is a great area with plenty to do, like the Chattanooga Aquarium which is one of the best we have been to, or the train museum.

Here’s a map centered on the aquarium area. One of our favorite family hotels in Chattanooga is the Chattanooga Choo Choo, which is built in one of the first railroad stations in the south, originally opened in 1909.

5. Nearby Ski Areas In North Carolina & Blue Ridge Mountains

While this one’s not in Tennessee, it’s close by and has an even better chance of snow if you’re looking to see. A number of ski resorts may be found in the mountains of North Carolina, making them easily accessible from Tennessee. Maggie Valley is a popular winter vacation spot because there are so many things to do outside and the views of the mountains are stunning. Boone, home to the world-famous Appalachian Ski Mountain, is another fantastic choice.

The Cataloochee Ski Area is another great place to ski. It is in the middle of the Great Smoky Mountains. Skiers and snowboarders of all abilities can enjoy the wide range of terrain at this ski resort. Cataloochee Ski Area has something for everyone, from experts to first-timers.

Sugar Mountain Ski Resort

Sugar Mountain, in the middle of the Smoky Mountains, is another excellent ski resort in North Carolina. Family ski trips to Sugar Mountain are a blast thanks to the resort’s two terrain parks and eight ski runs. You can also go night skiing at this resort, making it a fantastic choice for people who want to experience the snow after dark.

Sugar Mountain is one of the top choices for a family ski vacation. Here’s some of the top Sugar Mountain VRBOs.

Each of these North Carolina ski resorts is easily accessible from Tennessee, giving you and your family the best chanc

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail runs through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The trail goes across the top of the Smokies and can be reached from several places along the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. Some of the most popular access points near Gatlinburg include Newfound Gap, Clingmans Dome, and the trailhead at the end of Cherokee Orchard Road.

Best Time Of Year To See Snow

The best time to see snow in downtown Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains National Park is typically from late November to early March. During this time, winter weather is common at higher elevations, especially at the high elevations in the park. However, the precise timing and amount of snow can vary greatly from year to year and are influenced by a variety of factors, including temperature and precipitation patterns.

Chance of a White Christmas?

The chances of a white Christmas in Gatlinburg are not very high, but it is possible. We’ve had winter storms on Christmas one out of the four years that we’ve lived near Gatlinburg. According to historical data, the average snowfall in Gatlinburg during December is around 2-3 inches, with an average high temperature of around 47°F (8°C) and an average low temperature of around 30°F (-1°C). While snowfall is not guaranteed, Mother Nature may cooperate with the holiday season, particularly in the higher elevations surrounding the town.

How About West Tennessee?

Snow is less common in West Tennessee compared to the eastern part of the state, which has higher elevations. However, snowfall can occur in West Tennessee during the winter months, particularly in the northern part of the region closer to the Kentucky border.


If you’re seeking for a winter holiday spot that’s full of adventure and excitement, go no farther than Tennessee. There is no shortage of places to see snow in Tennessee, from the ski resorts of Ober Gatlinburg and Sugar Mountain to the beautiful grandeur of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Every year, the lights and decorations in Gatlinburg make it look like a magical winter wonderland for tourists. The best way to experience the magic of winter than on the Aerial Tramway. Pigeon Forge is another fantastic family vacation spot, with a lots to do and easy access to the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Therefore, Tennessee is the ideal location for your next snowy adventure, whether you’re an avid participant in snow sports, a family seeking for a fun activity, or just someone who appreciates the majesty of a winter wonderland. Make your travel plans now to visit Tennessee during the enchanting winter season.

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