Great Smoky Mountains National Park Weather Through the Months

Great Smoky Mountains National Park makes a popular destination throughout the year, though summer and fall see the heaviest visitor numbers. Each season in this magnificent place—the most-visited national park in the country—offers its own special magic.

As with any destination, the weather must be factored when planning a trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In this article, we’ll first sketch out some Great Smokies climatology 101. Then we’ll talk about what the weather’s like from season to season and month by month.

The Basic Weather & Climate Patterns of the Great Smoky Mountains

The climate of the Great Smokies is part of what makes this mountainscape so incredible. The Smokies and surrounding high ranges of the Southern Appalachians are one of the wettest regions in the country. All of that precipitation—which may exceed 100 inches at upper elevations—grows magnificent temperate forests that, by some definitions, meet the classification criteria of temperate rainforest.

The great range of elevation in the Smokies, from less than 1,000 feet up to mountaintops above 6,000 feet, means that weather can vary quite a bit in the park. There may be as much as 20 degrees of difference between temperatures in the park lowlands and in the high country. Lower elevations see a generous amount of annual rainfall in the vicinity of 55 inches or so, while 80 or more inches fall at higher elevations.

All sorts of fundamental factors shape the overall climate and the day-to-day weather in the Great Smokies. Those include the range’s latitude, the relatively nearby moisture sources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic, and the orientation of this massive and high block of mountains in relation to prevailing storm tracks.

Summers in the Great Smokies are humid, with warm temperatures on the mountaintops and downright hot weather in the lowlands. Winters are fairly mild at lower elevations, with colder and often snowier conditions in the high country. Spring and fall are distinct transitional months. Let’s break down the seasonal patterns and monthly average weather!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Weather Across the Seasons & Months

As part of the following seasonal weather summaries, we’ll include month-by-month temperature and precipitation averages for two locations in the Great Smokies: Gatlinburg, Tennessee (elevation 1,460 feet) near Park Headquarters and Clingmans Dome (elevation 6,643 feet), the highest peak in the range. Gatlinburg will be abbreviated as “G,” Clingmans Dome “CD.” Temperatures are all in degrees Fahrenheit.

These weather averages give you a rough idea of what conditions are like at the lower and upper elevations of the park throughout the year.

Spring

Springtime in the Great Smoky Mountains is pretty darn great, with outstanding wildflower displays on the forest floor and a slew of birds migrating through. The weather can be all over the place, especially in March, probably the most all-around unpredictable and variable month in the Smokies. March daytime highs may get into the 60s while nights drop below freezing. Flurries or snow showers may briefly whiten the lowlands; the early part of the month can bring some of the heaviest high-country snowfalls of the year. By April, temperatures are rapidly warming up, with highs in the 70s or even 80s common and nighttime lows usually in the 40s or 50s. Rain is frequent, though April tends to be a little drier than March. May is warmer yet, with showers still frequent; this is when spring truly takes over at the highest elevations.

March

Average High:

G – 61

CD – 39

Average Low:

G – 34

CD – 24

Precipitation:

G – 5.3 in.

CD – 8.2 in.

Snowfall:

G – Trace

CD – 26 in.

Precipitation Days:

G – 8

CD – 12

April

Average High:

G – 71

CD – 49

Average Low:

G – 42

CD – 34

Precipitation:

G – 4.5 in.

CD – 6.5 in.

Snowfall:

G – 0

CD – 5.0 in.

Precipitation Days:

G – 8

CD – 10

May

Average High:

G – 79

CD – 57

Average Low:

G – 50

CD – 43

Precipitation:

G – 4.5 in.

CD – 6.0 in.

Snowfall:

G – 0

CD – Trace

Precipitation Days:

G – 9

CD – 10

Summer

In summer, an offshore South Atlantic high-pressure system, the Bermuda High, strongly influences Smoky Mountain weather. Warm and moist air streams in from that high, making for hot and humid conditions. All that humidity contributes to the haze that gives the Great Smokies their name. High pressure dominates in the park during the summertime. Mornings are often clear, but clouds typically build up in the afternoon. Upslope airflow in the mountains commonly generates afternoon thunderstorms, which account for much of the summer rainfall in the Smokies. July is on average the wettest month in the range.

June

Average High:

G – 86

CD – 63

Average Low:

G – 58

CD – 49

Precipitation:

G – 5.2 in.

CD – 6.9 in.

Snowfall:

G – 0

CD – 0

Precipitation Days:

G – 9

CD – 11

July

Average High:

G – 88

CD – 65

Average Low:

G – 59

CD – 53

Precipitation:

G – 5.7 in.

CD – 8.3 in.

Snowfall:

G – 0

CD – 0

Precipitation Days:

G – 10

CD – 13

August

Average High:

G – 87

CD – 64

Average Low:

G – 60

CD – 52

Precipitation:

G – 5.3 in.

CD – 6.8 in.

Snowfall:

G – 0

CD – 0

Precipitation Days:

G – 10

CD – 12

Fall

High pressure still dominates much of the Smoky Mountain fall, while thunderstorms decrease. This makes the season the most reliably clear as well as the driest. The first frosts tend to arrive by late September, but the lowlands remain balmy through October. Snow showers start increasing in the high country.

September

Average High:

G – 83

CD – 60

Average Low:

G – 55

CD – 47

Precipitation:

G – 3.0 in.

CD – 5.1 in.

Snowfall:

G – 0

CD – Trace

Precipitation Days:

G – 5

CD – 8

October

Average High:

G – 73

CD – 53

Average Low:

G – 43

CD – 38

Precipitation:

G – 3.1 in.

CD – 5.4 in.

Snowfall:

G – Trace

CD – 2.0 in.

Precipitation Days:

G – 6

CD – 8

November

Average High:

G – 61

CD – 42

Average Low:

G – 33

CD – 28

Precipitation:

G – 3.4 in.

CD – 6.4 in.

Snowfall:

G – 0.7 in.

CD – 5.0 in.

Precipitation Days:

G – 7

CD – 9

Winter

Frontal storms bring rain and, especially at higher elevations, snow to the Great Smokies. These storms often track up from the Gulf of Mexico to impact the western side of the range, while heavy mountain snow may result from South Atlantic weather systems hitting the eastern front. Snow is only occasional at lower elevations, and while the high country may get major dumpings in storms, the resulting snowpack doesn’t usually last very long. Temperatures are generally mild at lower elevations, while the high ridges and peaks are (unsurprisingly) quite a bit colder.

December

Average High:

G – 52

CD – 37

Average Low:

G – 28

CD – 21

Precipitation:

G – 4.5 in.

CD – 7.3 in.

Snowfall:

G – 1.0 in.

CD – 8.0 in.

Precipitation Days:

G – 8

CD – 10

January

Average High:

G – 51

CD – 35

Average Low:

G – 28

CD – 19

Precipitation:

G – 4.8 in.

CD – 7.0 in.

Snowfall:

G – 2.3 in.

CD – 18 in.

Precipitation Days:

G – 9

CD – 12

February

Average High:

G – 54

CD – 35

Average Low:

G – 29

CD – 18

Precipitation:

G – 4.8 in.

CD – 8.2 in.

Snowfall:

G – 2.9 in.

CD – 20 in.

Precipitation Days:

G – 9

CD – 12