Taking a vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains can be enjoyed any time of year, and there are unique attractions for each season. Anybody who tells you that there is a best time or month to visit the Smokies has no idea what they are missing out on. The vast national park here offers something for everyone, all year round, and getting out in the great outdoors will help you to revitalize and come back from your vacation happier and more content. As we begin the autumn months here, keep reading to take a year-round trip around the Smokies and find out what lies in store whatever time you decide to visit.
Fall – A Colorful Masterpiece
Without a doubt, the best reason for coming to visit the Smokies in the fall is the colorful kaleidoscope that covers the national park, with the changing color of the leaves. There are over 100 different species of native trees in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the forest here turns into a canvas of all different shades of green, yellow, orange, red, and purple. While the crowds of the summer have gone, many people still come to visit and enjoy woodland trails through the fall, as the temperature is still moderate and most park facilities are still open.
Winter – A Snowy Wonderland
Even when winter rolls round and the snow begins to fall, the Smokies stay busy. The winter frost puts a chill in the air, and the crowds visiting the area certainly dissipate, but the winter is the perfect time for people who want some solitude and solace in this natural wonderland. The landscape changes, but the mountains become alive with snow sports enthusiasts. That’s right, skiers and snowboarders flock to the area, to visit the two ski areas in the Smokies. On the Tennessee side there is the Cataloochee ski area, which opens up in November and usually stays open until March. December and January guarantee the best snow, and there are 17 trails to try out here, ranging from beginner to expert slops. Over on the North Carolina side there is the Ober Gatlingburg ski resort, which has a fantastic cable car to transport you to the top of the mountain. Even if you don’t ski or snowboard, heading up to the mountain top and gazing over the snow-capped peaks is a sight to behold. Ober Gatlingburg also has an ice skating rink and snow tubing lanes to enjoy.
Spring – The Wildlife Comes Out to Play
There is an abundance of flora and fauna to behold in the Smokies, and the best time of year to see it all is in the spring months. The spring blossoms are without a doubt the most beautiful sight in the Smokies, with around one and a half thousand different wildflower species blooming. Flowers like violets, orchids, and irises are a common sight, but if you want to see wildlife at its most majestic then the search is on for the brown bear. Around 1,500 brown bears call the national park their home, and once they come out of hibernation they can become easy to spot if you know the right places. Head to the Cataloochee Valley and other open areas like Cades Cove for your best chance of spotting one in their natural habitat.
Summer – A Natural Playground
Once the summer has arrived, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park fills with thrill seekers and adventurers. Whether you want to hike the numerous mountain trails and camp out in the wilderness, or take on the winding rivers in a kayak or raft, the natural landscape provided many different ways to enjoy some exercise and excitement. It does not stop there, with dedicated mountain biking trails for all levels of ability, golf courses for people looking for a less demanding activity, and horseback riding through the country roads and gentle plateaus of the national park. You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing an activity during the summer time, but expect to have lots of company as it is the park’s busiest time of year.
As you can see, no matter what time of year you decide to visit, the Great Smoky Mountains have something in store for you. Al you have to decide is what the right type of activity is for you and then you can start planning your trip!
-Story contributed by Melissa Woods
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