Smoky Mountains Weather
Know Before You Go!

Smoky Mountains weather can be very unpredictable, just like the weather anywhere else. Since the Smokies are the tallest and most massive mountains in the eastern U.S., they're also colder and wetter than the surrounding areas of the park.

When you're hiking, remember that the air temperature decreases as the elevation increases. This can be a good thing when you're sweating as you climb up a mountain. :) There's about a 3º drop for every 1,000' you ascend. Precipitation also increases with elevation.

Rainfall in the Smokies is greatest in the summer. In the Smokies, the nights are colder, spring arrives later, and fall comes earlier than the area around it. I recommend checking the forecast before you go, but no matter what, always be prepared with a poncho when you hike.

In general, here's what to expect for Smoky Mountains weather:

Spring (March-May)
--March-unpredictable and rapidly changes, temperatures often drop below freezing at higher elevations
--April-major blizzards can come as late as early April
--middle to late April becomes more mild
--May-typically highs are 70s-80s and lows are 40s-50s

Summer (June-August)
--by mid-June it's hot and humid
--afternoon showers and thunderstorms are common
--days can reach 90s, nights usually in the 60s-70s

Fall (September-mid-November)
--clear skies, but cool, rainy days still possible
--in September, days are typically 70s-80s, 50s at night
--In November, days are typically 50s-60s, lows are near freezing
--higher elevations may get snow

Winter (mid-November-February)
--days usually have a high of 50º, nights are usually at or below freezing
--if you're looking for snow, visit in January-early March

As you can see, weather in the mountains can vary greatly. I recommend visiting the Smokies in spring or fall. My favorite times to go are May and October. No matter when you go, you'll be in for a treat out on the trail!

While any good forecast can be wrong, there are ways to tell the weather just by observing the outdoors. Here are some signs to look for.

Good Weather Signs
--Yellow sunset/sunrise
--Small cumulus (big, white, and change shape as they float by) clouds in the sky
--Pinecones are open
--Dandelions are open
--Birds are flying high in the sky

Bad Weather Signs
--Red sunrise
--Cirrus or horsetail (feathered, usually mean a storm is coming in 24-48 hours) clouds develop
--A ring around the moon
--Cumulus clouds swell and grow tall
--Birds fly low and line up on pole wires
--Pinecones are closed
--Dandelions are closed

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