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Are you planning a trip to the Smoky Mountains but not sure when to go? Consider visiting during the Gatlinburg off-season.

Gatlinburg in winter
Aerial view of Gatlinburg during winter time

Though Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains are a year-round destination, the off-season is during January, February, and up to mid-March. During this time, you can expect to encounter fewer crowds and enjoy lower rates for accommodations and attractions.

The off-season in Gatlinburg is an ideal time for those who want to experience the town’s natural beauty and attractions without the hustle and bustle of peak season. You can still enjoy sightseeing, hiking, and other outdoor activities, as well as indoor attractions like museums and shows.

Plus, with fewer crowds, you can take your time and enjoy the attractions more fully, without feeling rushed or crowded. So, if you’re looking for a more peaceful and relaxing vacation, consider visiting Gatlinburg during the off-season.

Best Time to Visit Gatlinburg Off Season

If you’re looking for a quieter and more affordable time to visit Gatlinburg, the off season is the perfect time for you. The off season in Gatlinburg is during January, February, and the first part of March. During these months, the crowds are significantly smaller, and prices for accommodations and attractions are lower.

The winter months in Gatlinburg can be chilly, but it’s a great time to enjoy winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. The snow-covered mountains make for a beautiful backdrop for your vacation. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a peaceful retreat, the off season is the perfect time for you.

See our guide to when it snows in the Smoky Mountains

picture of snow covered scene in the great smoky mountains
This is a picture we took in early March 2022…. it snowed on this trip!

One of the best things about visiting Gatlinburg in the off season is that you can avoid the crowds. During the peak season, the town can get very crowded, and you may have to wait in long lines for attractions and restaurants. But during the off season, you can enjoy the town at a more relaxed pace.

While the off season may not be the best time to visit if you’re looking for warm weather and outdoor activities, it’s a great time to explore the town’s indoor attractions. You can visit museums, art galleries, and indoor attractions like the aquarium without having to worry about the weather.

Be aware, though, that several area attractions shut down for the winter season or have reduced hours. We enjoy going in early March to avoid the crowds, but places like Dollywood aren’t open yet, so we plan on Ober Gatlinburg, Anakeesta or SkyLift Park in the off season.

the author at the Appalachian Trail sign on a cold day
It was a cold, cold day that I wasn’t dressed for when we went in March one year!

Weather Conditions in Gatlinburg Off Season

When you plan a trip to Gatlinburg during the off-season, you should be prepared for cooler weather. January, February, and March are the off-season months, and the average temperatures range from 27 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

The average high temperature in January is 51°F, and the average low is 28°F. February is usually a bit colder, with an average high of 50°F and an average low of 26°F. By March, the weather starts to warm up, with an average high of 60°F during the daytime.

If you’re planning a trip to Gatlinburg during this time, it’s a good idea to pack some warm clothing, especially if you’re intending to spend time outdoors. You might want to bring a heavy coat, gloves, and a hat to keep warm.

You should also be prepared for the possibility of snow, as the average snowfall in January is 2.3 inches. Not a lot, but there is a chance it will snow!

Despite the cooler weather, Gatlinburg is still a great place to visit during the off-season. The crowds are smaller, and you can enjoy the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains without the crowds. Many attractions remain open during the off-season, so you can still enjoy all that Gatlinburg has to offer.

snow tubing hill with tubes
Snow tubing and skiing can be enjoyed at Ober Gatlinburg.

Things to Do in Gatlinburg Off Season

If you’re planning a visit to Gatlinburg during the off-season, don’t worry. There are still plenty of things to do in this charming mountain town. Here are some of the best things to do in Gatlinburg off season:

Outdoor Activities

Even during the coldest month of the year, there are still plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in Gatlinburg. Take advantage of the fewer crowds and visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for some of the best views and hiking trails in the Smoky Mountain region. If you’re looking for some outdoor adventures, head to Ober Gatlinburg for skiing, snow tubing, and ice skating. Anakeesta and the SkyBridge are great even when it’s cold as well.

Indoor Activities

If you prefer to stay indoors during the off season, there are plenty of indoor activities to keep you entertained. Visit the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community for some unique shopping experiences or head to the Aerial Tramway for some breathtaking mountain views. You can also visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies or enjoy a relaxing day at an indoor water park.

the author's sons at Ripley's aquarium
Our boys enjoying some indoor fun at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Downtown Gatlinburg

Downtown Gatlinburg is always a great place to visit, no matter what time of year it is. During the off season, you can enjoy the charming mountain town without the higher prices and crowds. Take a stroll down the main street and enjoy the local shops, restaurants, and attractions.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must-visit destination any time of year. During the off season, you can enjoy the park’s beauty without the crowds. Take a drive through Cades Cove to see wildlife or go on a wildlife viewing adventure. Remember to follow the National Park Service’s guidelines for safety and privacy policy.

Also be aware that some roads are closed during the coldest months, so check the park’s website for up to date information.

Gatlinburg Cabin Rentals

The off season is a great time to book a Gatlinburg cabin rental. You can enjoy the privacy and comfort of your own cabin without the higher hotel prices. Many cabins come equipped with hot tubs and beautiful mountain views. Check with the rental company for any special activities or packages they may offer during the off season.

No matter what time of year you visit Gatlinburg, there is always something to do for the entire family. Enjoy the beautiful town and all it has to offer during the off season.

Common Questions about the Gatlinburg Off Season

What is the cheapest time of year to go to Gatlinburg TN?

The cheapest time to visit Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is during the off-peak seasons, which are typically in the winter months from January to February, and up until spring break. Accommodation and attraction prices can be significantly lower during these times. However, it’s important to note that while these times may be less expensive, certain outdoor activities may be limited due to weather conditions. Always check the forecast and plan accordingly.

What is the off season for Pigeon Forge?

The off season for Pigeon Forge, a popular tourist destination near Gatlinburg, tends to be from late fall into the winter, particularly from January through mid-March. During these months, you can often find lower prices on accommodations and less crowded attractions. The weather can be chillier during these months, so pack accordingly and check the operating hours of attractions, as some may have reduced schedules.

What is the cheapest month to go to Tennessee?

The cheapest months to visit Tennessee are typically January and February, when tourist activity is lower due to colder weather. This is particularly true for tourist hotspots like Nashville, Memphis, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge. Prices for accommodations and some attractions may be lower during these months. However, keep in mind that weather conditions during this time can affect the availability of outdoor activities and some attractions may have reduced hours. Always check the local forecast and operational hours of attractions before planning your trip.

What is slowest time of year in Pigeon Forge?

The slowest time of year in Pigeon Forge is typically during the winter months, from January through February, following the holiday season. Tourist activity tends to decrease significantly during this period due to colder weather. This is the best time to visit if you prefer a quieter experience, as attractions and accommodations are less crowded. However, some attractions may have reduced hours or be closed during this season, and weather conditions can affect outdoor activities. It’s recommended to check the schedules of any attractions you plan to visit during these months.

Final Thoughts about the Gatlinburg Off Season

Embracing the off season in Gatlinburg presents an opportunity to experience the tranquil side of this vibrant city, and at a reduced cost. While the cooler winter months of January and February might limit some outdoor activities, they also offer a quieter, less crowded experience.

Regardless of when you choose to visit, Gatlinburg’s charm is year-round. Always remember to check weather forecasts and attraction schedules to make the most of your visit. A trip to Gatlinburg in the off season can be a rewarding experience if planned thoughtfully.

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