Winter may be considered off-season in and around Pigeon Forge, but the fun certainly doesn’t end when the temperature drops. While a few attractions close during the winter months, many more remain perfectly accessible — and some offer amazing deals in hopes of enticing cold-weather visitors.
Not sure where to start? Be sure to add the following activities and adventures to your winter itinerary:
1. Drive the Winterfest Tour of Lights
One of Pigeon Forge’s most beloved traditions, the annual Winterfest Tour of Lights brings over five million twinkling lights to the Parkway. While this is often thought of as strictly a holiday tradition, the beloved Tour of Lights actually extends through most of February. It can be enjoyed on foot, but the displays are so extensive that most visitors prefer to check them out by car. Grab a free map at the Welcome Center so you can explore these impressive lighting displays at your leisure.
2. Stroll Through Patriot Park
Patriot Park is a worthy stop throughout the year, but it truly shines between November and February. Winterfest takes over the park the moment cold weather arrives, bringing beautiful lighting displays into this popular recreational space. But while the rest of the annual Tour of Lights is best viewed from the comfort of your car, this particular spot warrants getting out of your vehicle and taking a casual stroll alongside loved ones and a camera. Here, you’ll find a lighting display like no other, complete with patriotic images that accurately reflect the park’s name.
3. Make the Most of The Island
Pigeon Forge’s Winterfest displays may be impressive, but the beautiful lighting certainly doesn’t end there. At The Island, you’ll find not only the usual array of retail stores and dining establishments but also several gorgeous lighting displays. These lights make The Island’s already amazing fountains that much more enjoyable to watch. The fountain shows are also complemented by music, which is perfectly coordinated to create an entertaining spectacle.
Don’t forget to hit up The Island’s Ferris wheel, where you’ll enjoy an expansive view of Pigeon Forge. The attraction’s other rides are also worth checking out, especially as winter visits allow you to avoid the long lines that typically develop in warm weather.
4. Attend a Show
If you’re determined to avoid the cold, consider attending at least one of Pigeon Forge’s many entertaining shows. This Smoky Mountain town has long been known for its array of dinner theaters, where you can catch a hearty meal as you enjoy a true spectacle full of song and dance. Favorites include Hatfield & McCoy, Pirates Voyage, and Dolly Parton’s Stampede. Several of the area’s top dinner theaters stage special Christmas performances during the holiday season.
5. Horseback Adventures at Big Rock Dude Ranch
Riding stables abound throughout the Smoky Mountain region, but Big Rock Dude Ranch provides a truly special experience that you won’t find anywhere else. No matter the extent of your experience on horseback, you can count on the majestic creatures at the Big Rock Dude Ranch to provide a gentle and enjoyable ride. During your horseback adventure, you’ll navigate 3.5 miles as you take in gorgeous views of the Smoky Mountains. The ranch also offers half-hour ATV tours, which allow you to get your thrill on and then promptly get in out of the cold.
6. Take the Winter Fun Inside at Pigeon Forge Snow
While Pigeon Forge Snow is primarily intended to bring the delights of the winter to the Smoky Mountains when humid weather takes over, it remains just as enjoyable of a destination when it’s just as snowy outside. That being said, this particular attraction is especially ideal during the early days of winter, when it might already be blustery — but there’s little snow to show for your outside discomfort.
Temperature control makes every trip to Pigeon Forge Snow comfortable. You’ll love the novelty of heading down the hill in short sleeves. Fresh snow is made every day, so you can always expect an enjoyable downhill adventure, free of the ice or bare patches that might bother you while tubing outside.
7. Memorable ATV Journeys With Bluff Mountain Adventures
Navigate rugged Smoky Mountain terrain during your guided tour with Bluff Mountain Adventures. Winter tours can be a bit chilly, but they’re certainly scenic. Each ATV tour packs over an hour with the perfect combination of thrills and scenery. You’ll explore over 6,000 acres as you cross mountainous terrain and make your way to the beautiful bluff. The company’s guides are encouraging. They’ll push you out of your comfort zone while still ensuring that you feel safe and comfortable at all times.
8. Chase Thrills at Outdoor Gravity Park
If you’ve yet to take part in the popular New Zealand activity known as zorbing, you’re missing out. At Pigeon Forge’s Outdoor Gravity Park, this thrilling adventure places you in a huge ball, which begins its descent atop a 1,000-foot hill. Prior to heading downhill, however, water will be splashed inside the ball, making for a slippery and thoroughly exciting journey.
During the winter months, the attraction’s staff members use warm water to keep thrill-seekers comfortable. Don’t worry about your trek downhill being too intense — the experience has accurately been described as akin to riding in a rolling Jacuzzi.
9. Enjoy Winter Beauty And Excitement on the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster
Dollywood is sadly closed during a significant portion of the winter, but excitement is still available if you hit up the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. If anything, the winter chill actually lends the coaster more of an authentic alpine feel. If you’re lucky, you’ll hit up the coaster when the area is covered in a beautiful layer of snow, which can make the experience that much more scenic. Bundle up — this coaster can be cold enough to feel thoroughly uncomfortable if you don’t come equipped with proper outerwear and winter accessories.
10. Explore the Smokies With Tennessee Mountain Tours
The guides at Tennessee Mountain Tours take visitors on a variety of intriguing expeditions that highlight the best views and most interesting places in the Smoky Mountains. Two of the company’s top tours continue through the month of December: Moonshine & Wine and Vittles & Views. The Moonshine & Wine tour will expose you to some of the region’s finest moonshine and wine distilleries, while Vittles & Views will take you over the Foothills Parkway, where you can enjoy stunning mountain scenery before enjoying the ultimate in local cuisine.
While no tours are currently scheduled for January and February, it’s possible to arrange for a custom tour if you have a large group. This is a great option for anybody who is interested in exploring Great Smoky Mountain National Park during the winter months — but is worried about navigating road closures and other potential headaches.
Between inside experiences and outdoor expeditions, entertaining options abound during the winter in Pigeon Forge. With so much to do and see, there really is no excuse to miss out on this charming Smoky Mountains destination when cold weather strikes. You just might realize that you prefer winter to any other season in Pigeon Forge.