|

Where To See Snow In Tennessee

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.

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.

Your chances start increasing at higher elevations, and our guide concentrates on that for the best chances.

  • Pigeon Forge snowfall per year: 6
  • Clingman’s Dome snowfall per year: 84″
Snowy gravel road near Townsend, TN. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

Where To Find Snow

All our top choices are located in a small area of eastern Tennessee, focused around Gatlinburg.

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 in summer!

Snow-covered bridges over the Little River near Townsend. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

Gatlinburg

downtown gatlinburg
Downtown Gatlinburg in February. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

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.

While Gatlinburg gets around 8 inches of snow per year, there are only a few times of the year when you’re likely to see snow downtown.

This picture below was in April, when Gatlinburg was around 50 degrees but there’s snow visible on the mountains behind it. Those mountains are where you’ll find the higher altitude locations listed below.

view of gatlinburg from the skybridge
Gatlinburg with snow in the distant mountains. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

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

Ober Gatlinburg
Snow at Ober Mountain. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

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.

We reviewed Ober Mountain on our last visit.

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.

SNOW ALERT: 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 larger up here!

Ober Mountain is the only place in Gatlinburg for snow tubing, though Pigeon Forge has several other choices.

Newfound Gap

Want the best chance at seeing snow? Head south from Gatlinburg on Newfound Gap Road.

newfound gap road
Newfound Gap Road in April. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

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.

newfound gap road road closure
Road closure to Newfound Gap Road. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

snow on the road near gatlinburg
Snowy drive near Gatlinburg. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

At an elevation of approximately 5,046 feet, it’s one of the highest points accessible year-round 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.

newfound gap
Newfound Gap overlook. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

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.

Clingmans Dome

clingmans dome
Clingmans Dome on a cloudy day. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

When it’s not closed for the winter, you can continue a short distance past Newfound Gap to Clingmans Dome (the highest point in Tennessee).

The road to Clingmans Dome is closed to vehicles during the winter (though it’s open if you’re up for a long hike), but snow can still occasionally fall when it opens back up.

At over 6,000 ft, Clingmans Dome gets nearly 100 inches of snow annually.

We visited last in late April; the temperature in Gatlinburg was in the 50s, but Clingman Dome was in the upper 30s.

We got about 10 minutes of heavy snow while we were there, not something you’d expect that late in the year.

clingman dome snow
Path to Clingmans Dome. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

This picture was taken on the trail leading up to the observation tower.

Of course, the snow means you won’t have some of the amazing long-distance views that Clingmans Dome is known for!

clingmans dome ramp up to the tower
Clingmans Dome on a cloudy day. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

Recap

If you’re seeking a fun winter holiday spot, consider the Gatlinburg area. While you’re not guaranteed to find real snow like you would be somewhere like Colorado or Utah, you can still find machine-made snow somewhere like Ober Gatlinburg.

Driving up to a higher altitude increases your chances too.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *