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Tennessee

Gatlinburg

About

Cradled by Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg surrounds visitors in natural splendor, all the while offering quaint comforts and family fun. Gatlinburg plays a vital role as the gateway to the very popular Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With 500,000 acres of forest and 800 miles of hiking trails, the opportunities for hiking, fishing, and camping are nearly endless. And with over 200 species of birds, 60 native mammals, and the most diverse salamander population in the world, there are plenty of chances to glimpse local wildlife. There's an abundance of other ways to enjoy the great outdoors around Gatlinburg. Nearby rivers are popular whitewater rafting spots. Golfers will also find plenty of chances to practice their swings. There's even skiing in winter. Off-road tours and an aerial tramway offer more ways to witness the area's natural beauty. Downtown, visitors can stroll among shops selling candy, souvenirs, and other wares; or visit a popular family attraction such as Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Tennessee culture and history is the focus of the Heritage Trail, with stops in Gatlinburg (and around the state). The Gatlinburg History Trail gives visitors a glimpse into people and events that have shaped the town. Local artisans sell quilts, dolls, scrimshaw, baskets, and ceramics along Gatlinbug's eight-mile Arts & Crafts Trail. The Music Trail pathway explores the rich music history of the region, and offers plenty of chances to enjoy live performances. Many visitors arrive via car from larger cities in the region, though there are also flights to Gatlinburg from low-cost carriers and other airlines.

When To Go

Located in the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg attracts visitors year-round with pleasant weather and outdoor activities such as hiking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, skiing, and synchronized fireflies. That's right, synchronized fireflies. In June, hordes of visitors come to witness the illuminated insects light up the forest like the night sky. Since Gatlinburg is a top family destination, the most popular times to visit are during spring break, summer, weekends, and when kids are on school vacations. Many visitors also come to see the leaves change in the fall. The least popular time is February through mid-March, when things quiet down between the holidays and spring break.

high season: mid-March to mid--April, June to July, September to December
low season: February to mid--March
shoulder season: January, mid-April to May, August

Weather Information

Gatlinburg experiences a moderate climate throughout its four full seasons. Summers are warm, with high temperature averages in the 80s. Spring and fall average highs range from the 60s to the high 70s. Winters can be chilly, with a chance of snow and average highs in the 40s and 50s. Rain can fall anytime throughout the year.

Crowd Information

Gatlinburg sees visitors year-round, but spring break and summer tend to be the busiest times due to school vacations. Many major events and festivals also attract crowds, including the Gatlinburg Scottish Festival & Games in May, the Gatlinburg MountainFest in August, the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival from September through October, and the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade in December.

Closure Information

Most hotels, restaurants, and attractions remain open throughout the year. However, several downtown shops and restaurants may close early during the winter.

Other Information

The primary arteries into Gatlinburg, Highways 66 at Interstate 40 and Highway 441 South, can get heavily congested during weekends and holidays. You can avoid this traffic by taking alternate routes into town, several of which can save you more than an hour's worth of driving.

When to Save

The least expensive time to visit is during the winter months, when there are fewer visitors. Discounts are available for travel during weekdays in the summer. The most expensive time to go is over weekends and during holidays.

Information provided by the Gatlinburg Department of Tourism