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8 Tips for a Super-Safe, Hassle-Free Winter Visit to the Smokies

Winter is fast approaching and bringing with it snow squalls, plummeting temperatures, and winter travel worries. The good news? There is not a more perfect antidote for a case of the winter blues than a cozy cabin in the mountains. The even better news? It’s possible to take a safe, enjoyable trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as long as you do a little prep work beforehand. Below, find our tips on preparing yourself and your family for your Smoky Mountain winter getaway.

Consider renting a cabin close to town
If you’re worried about travel conditions, keep in mind that cabins located on main roads are easier to access during inclement weather; however, travelers should be cautioned that a bad storm can shut down roads for up to 24 hours afterward.

Purchase trip insurance
As icy conditions can make it very difficult to reach certain cabins, we highly recommend purchasing travel insurance for stays between November 1 and March 31. CSA Travel Protection offers plans that cover winter storms.

Bring your 4-wheel drive vehicle
If you don’t have a 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle, bring snow chains that you can fit onto your car’s tires.

Use an ice taxi service
No plow? No problem. The area ice taxi can tow your car up to any property regardless of what condition the roads are in – it’s not the cheapest option but definitely better than getting stranded.

Prepare for inclement conditions on winter hikes
Hiking in the Smoky Mountains remains a popular activity during the winter which means that trails are often still passable. However, keep in mind that hard-packed snow and ice can make maneuvering them more difficult than usual. Consider purchasing in-step crampons and consult guide books to educate yourself about stream crossings and other trail features that might prove difficult in snowy weather.

…And bring plenty of supplies
Hikers often believe that cooler weather means stocking up on water isn’t necessary, but it is. Because conditions can more easily turn dangerous in winter weather, it is safer to overestimate food and water portions.  In addition to larger portions, pack foods that will maintain your hunger for longer periods of time such as nuts, cheeses, and meats if you have a cooler that will allow perishable foods to stay unspoiled.

Dress properly for winter activities.
Snow-capped mountains and dramatic scenery make outdoor activities a treat during winter – just make sure you’re bundled up. Changing elevation can mean cooler weather; dress in layers for comfort and safety.

Make the most of your snow-ins.
The bad news: You’re snowed in. The good news: You’ve got an imagination, and now’s the time to use it. Whether you’re gathered by the fireplace for story time, cozying up in a nook with that novel you’ve been meaning to read, or playing a raucous round of board games with your whole group, there’s plenty of fun to be had against a backdrop of sparkling snow.

Does making memories in front of a crackling fire sound like your idea of a perfect winter getaway? Book your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park today!