Tennessee is one of those states that truly doesn’t get the attention it deserves. New York, Florida, California, and Arizona’s Grand Canyon are all top-tier destination locales. But in Tennessee, in places like Pigeon Forge, visitors can enjoy all the above and more: A bustling downtown district with art and music, tons of outdoor attractions, and amusement fun at Dollywood. All of this is rolled up in not just Tennessee, but Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
But while the Pigeon Forge area does have a lot to offer, and should be on every family’s must-go destination list, there are better times to visit than others. There are also some downright bad times to visit. The following is a look at some times in which you shouldn’t book a trip to Pigeon Forge:
The Worst Times to Visit Pigeon Forge
If you hate the cold and want to visit Dollywood, don’t go in January or February.
January and February are the coldest months of the year for Pigeon Forge. It gets cold enough for snow in this part of Tennessee, but the city of Pigeon Forge itself only averages a little more than a dozen days of snow across these two months. Instead, what you get is a lot of cold sleet that makes for a very gray-looking city.
But not only does the city look gray and feel cold, but some of the best area attractions are also closed during these months — including Dollywood. Dollywood typically closes the day after New Year’s and won’t open again until mid-March. The cool thing is that the cold is only one reason why the theme park closes every year. This shutdown gives Dollywood owners and staff time to make updates and improve the park so that every spring it opens, guests can enjoy something new and things improved.
That said, if you hate crowds, love shopping and indoor activities, or want an in-city stay for nearby ski resorts, then January and February are great times for you to go to Pigeon Forge.
If you hate crowds and traffic, don’t go in September or October.
Summer is certainly a busy time for families as kids are out of school, but at least during the summer the crowds are spread out over the full weeks and people take their full vacations. In the fall, the crowds get huge on weekends and people go for the beautiful weather and the many big events happening during September and October.
For example, the Rod Run happens every September. The Rod Run is one of the most popular car shows and events as people from all over the continent drive over to show off their classic, rare, and customized automobiles. This is a three-day event that traditionally happens towards the end of September but despite being so short, it has a massive influence on local traffic. During this weekend, streets get incredibly clogged up and traffic becomes an absolute nightmare. So unless you have a real hankering to gawk at pretty cars, you probably will want to avoid Pigeon Forge during this time.
Fall is also very popular with outdoors enthusiasts as this is the time in which the leaves are changing and temperatures are optimal. This makes some trails outside the city incredibly busy with tourists. That said, the changing autumn foliage in the Smoky Mountains is absolutely incredible and should absolutely be seen and experienced at least once. So, what to do?
If you hate crowds and traffic but really want to experience the beautiful fall temperatures and foliage in Pigeon Forge, then be very particular about when you visit. Try and book your trip during weekdays and make sure to avoid any big fall events, such as the Rod Run and three-day holiday weekends when kids are out of school (think Labor Day and Columbus Day).
If you can’t stand to sweat and hate being wet, don’t go in July.
July is the peak of summer for Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. For most of the country, this means tons of sunny days with backyard barbecue grills, park picnics, and swimming pools. For Pigeon Forge, it means rain, lots and lots of rain. July is the rainiest month for Pigeon Forge, earning an average of 21.6 days of rain. That means for every three days you visit, you can expect about two days of rain.
While rain itself is uncomfortable and can ruin plans (Dollywood shuts down many of its roller coasters during sustained rainfall), that’s only part of the problem. The second part is that this heavy rainfall also combines with the high temperatures of summer and together deliver a nasty heat index. Even though temperatures in Pigeon Forge rarely go above the mid-80s Fahrenheit, the high humidity makes the city feel as though it is in the mid-90s Fahrenheit. This high humidity makes for tons of sweating and lots of frizzy hair.
While the other two worst times to visit Dollywood have their upsides, this one doesn’t. July is still a busy month as this is when school is out and families often use their vacations. But if you have the opportunity to book for another month, then we recommend it. Booking outside of July means rain is less likely to interrupt your trip, fewer summer crowds to deal with, and more comfortable temperatures to enjoy.
For Most of the Year, You Will Find Fantastic Conditions
While this list of the worst times might feel daunting, most will find that Pigeon Forge is a fantastic place to visit most of the year. This is a city that generally has fantastic temperatures and boasts a very neighborly feel in which its small town-nature truly shines out. There is also simply so much to do and experience. So even if you go during snow, sleet, rain, or heat, you are sure to find something in this city to enjoy. Make sure to browse our other articles to learn more about the city and its best attractions.