Top 7 Things to Do in Gatlinburg for the Winter

Top 7 Things to Do in Gatlinburg for the Winter

Not afraid of some snow on the ground and a chill in the air? Then you will love visiting our beautiful mountain town during the winter season, which is considered the best time to visit the Smokies. While the spring and fall seasons are stunning, and many will say perfect, our winter season is just as exciting for different reasons. If you are planning a winter getaway for the upcoming months, check out our list of the top 7 things to do in Gatlinburg in the winter.

1. Ski at Ober Gatlinburg

If there is one attraction that was built for winter sports in Gatlinburg, it is the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort. With multiple trails to ride, Ober is the perfect destination for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Just getting to the park is fun in itself; strap yourself into the scenic chair lift and get an unparalleled view of the entire Gatlinburg area. If you don’t have your own equipment, don’t worry: they have everything you need to enjoy an afternoon of fun in the snow at prices that won’t break your budget. Take a break from the cold and grab some lunch, play a few games at the arcade or ride the carousel. With so much to do at Ober, you may find yourself there all weekend!

2. Visit The Great Smoky Mountains

With hundreds of miles of trails to explore, there is simply no way you could see all of the Smoky Mountains in one trip. Just because there is some snow on the ground doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an afternoon exploring the trails or go on a Smoky Mountain scenic drive. Just make sure you check with a park ranger or check their website to see if there are any road or trail closures that you should avoid. Their website also provides access to 2 webcams that show updated conditions in the park.

3. Go on a Winter Hike


With miles of well-maintained trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, hikers can find a variety of routes suitable for all skill levels. While some trails may be closed due to icy or hazardous conditions, there are still plenty of options for winter hikes. 

It’s also important to check weather conditions and trail closures before heading out, and to let someone know your planned route and expected return time. With the right preparation, a winter hike in the Smoky Mountains can be a peaceful and unforgettable experience, surrounded by the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains.

5. See a Frozen Waterfall

As temperatures drop, the falling water from the waterfalls freezes, creating a glistening and sparkling display of ice. Some of the most popular frozen waterfalls to visit in Gatlinburg include:

  • Laurel Falls
  • Rainbow Falls
  • Grotto Falls

To fully experience the magic of winter, witnessing the breathtaking sight of frozen waterfalls is an absolute must-do winter Gatlinburg attraction.

6. See the Lights at Winterfest


Winterfest Lights is an annual event in Gatlinburg that takes place from November-February, making it a perfect activity for those planning to spend Thanksgiving in Gatlinburg. This event showcases a spectacular display of millions of twinkling lights, which are draped across trees, buildings, and landmarks throughout the city. The lights are synchronized to music and feature a variety of festive displays, including Christmas trees, snowflakes, and holiday characters. Visitors can experience the Winterfest Lights by taking a driving tour of the city, walking through downtown Gatlinburg, or by riding the Gatlinburg Trolley.

6. Visit a Museum

There are several museums in Gatlinburg located just a short drive from Elk Springs Resort. The museums are different from your average stuffy variety, however, making them a perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon. Check out the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum to see thousands of shakers from around the world. The Guinness World Records Museum will surprise and amaze you by showing what your fellow man is capable of accomplishing. You can usually find deals for these museums online as well.

7. Hunker Down in Your Cabin

Hunker down in your family cabin in Gatlinburg without a care in the world. Of course, you can do that all year long at the Elk Springs Resort, but there is something special about staying inside and all cozy during the winter. Elk Springs has a variety of options including Gatlinburg cabin rentals with indoor pools, theater rooms, and arcades. 

Gatlinburg is the perfect winter destination for outdoor enthusiasts and those who want to experience the magic of winter. With so many things to do in Gatlinburg during the winter season, visitors can ski, hike, see frozen waterfalls, experience the Winterfest Lights, and visit museums. Whether you prefer to be outside or inside, Gatlinburg offers something for everyone during the winter months.