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6 Irresistible Reasons to Visit Gatlinburg in the Spring

Are you planning a Smoky Mountains getaway but can’t decide when to go? I highly suggest visiting Gatlinburg in the spring. On top of the breathtaking, blooming landscape, spring in the Smoky Mountains is home to an endless array of activities, attractions, and nonstop fun.

If the warm weather and beautiful scenery aren’t enough to convince you, here’s six convincing reasons why you need to go to Gatlinburg this spring.

Dollywood visitors ride the Wild Eagle coaster in Gatlinburg in the Spring
Head to Dollywood during the spring to ride Wild Eagle, if you dare!

1. Dollywood Opens for the Season

After a successful winter holiday festival, Dollywood closes down at the beginning of each year. During this time, the park undergoes routine maintenance, adds new and exciting rides and attractions, and gets ready for the new year. Around mid-March, the park opens back up again and welcomes guests to a new theme park season filled with the fun and excitement only Dollywood can provide.

In addition, opening day also signifies the start of the Festival of Nations. This global festival celebrates food, entertainment, music, dance, and more from around the world, representing more than 25 countries.

The 2020 Dollywood season begins on March 14, 2020. Will you be there this spring?

Gatlinburg in the Spring is filled with blooming mountainsides like this one
See the flowers bloom in the Smoky Mountains each spring.

2. Adventures in the Great Smoky Mountains

As the snow melts and the temperatures begin to rise, the Great Smoky Mountains are reborn each spring. As a result, visitors are treated to a variety of adventures in the national park. If you intend to visit Gatlinburg in the spring, take advantage of these outdoor excursions in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

From April 22nd to 25th, 2020, the 70th Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage takes place in the Smoky Mountains. This annual festival includes guided walks through the mountains to discover blooming flowers, trees, shrubs, wildlife, and so much more. Additional programs include nature photography, wildlife education, bird spotting, and the history of the park.

Black Bear Spotting

As spring approaches, the black bears who call the Smoky Mountains home will be slowly coming out of hibernation. Visiting Gatlinburg in the spring is the perfect way to increase your chance of a black bear sighting!

Remember, if you do encounter a black bear on a hiking trail or within the national park, do not approach or follow it. Follow the park’s rules and recommendations for dealing with a black bear, instead. The safest way to spot a black bear is on the Cades Cove auto trail. If you do happen to see a bear, stay in your car to take pictures!

Synchronous Fireflies

The Smoky Mountains are also home to 19 unique species of fireflies. Of those species, the synchronous fireflies might be the most fascinating of all. Late in the spring season, these fireflies will synchronize their flashing light patterns as part of a mating display and create a natural work of art that will leave you speechless.

While this natural wonder is a sight to behold, it’s hard to gain access to. To ensure the safety of the fireflies, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is strict about who they let enter the park during this display. Visitors must enter a lottery and be chosen prior to visiting the park for the event. In addition, the dates change each year to match the fireflies’ natural behaviors.

If you want to see this spring light display in person, enter the lottery ASAP!

Ranger Tours

Another Smoky Mountain spring highlight are the ranger-led tours. The Park Rangers take groups of interested visitors out into the park to learn more about the trails, nature, history, and more. Times vary for these tours, so check the nearest Great Smoky Mountain National Park visitor center upon arrival for the most up-to-date schedule.

Gatlinburg in the Spring boasts fewer crowds and more opportunities for you to explore.
You won’t find many crowds in Gatlinburg during the spring.

3. Fewer Crowds

One of the major reasons people love to travel to Gatlinburg in the spring is the smaller crowds. With school still in session, few families are traveling and others are waiting until the summer arrives to visit the Smokies.

Do note that mid-March can be slightly more crowded than other weeks during the spring. Around this time, most schools are out for spring break and Dollywood’s opening week draws several visitors!

Visitors take advantage of an outdoor festival in Gatlinburg in the Spring
Photo Credit: Visit Gatlinburg / Facebook

4. Spring Festivals and Events

Gatlinburg loves to celebrate the arrival of spring. So much so that they offer a ton of entertaining festivals and events throughout the season. A few of the top spring festivals include:

If you plan to discover Gatlinburg in the spring, be sure to find out what festivals and events are happening during your vacation for added entertainment!

A group of friends goes white water rafting in Gatlinburg in the Spring
Whitewater rafting is the perfect spring outdoor adventure!

5. Gatlinburg Outdoor Adventures

On top of exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg plays host to a multitude of outdoor adventures. From ziplining to zorbing and even horseback riding, outdoorsy folk will find something to do during their spring getaway. I recommend checking out these Gatlinburg outdoor adventures for a memorable trip:

Plus, with the flowers in bloom and the leaves getting greener by the minute, there is no better time to be outdoors in Gatlinburg.

A couple goes hiking in Gatlinburg in the Spring
A trip to Gatlinburg is an affordable and entertaining spring adventure.

6. An Affordable Spring Break Destination

Quite possibly the most convincing reason to visit Gatlinburg in the spring is the price. On top of already low prices in comparison to top travel destinations around the United States, Gatlinburg lodging and attractions have even lower rates during the spring season. Take advantage of off-season pricing and reserve the cabin of your dreams, spend an extra day at Dollywood, or embark on an outdoor adventure.

Also, if you bundle your Gatlinburg hotel or cabin with your attraction and activity tickets from Tripster, you’ll enjoy even greater savings!

Gatlinburg in the Spring: The Best Time to Visit

From the breathtaking landscape to the endless adventures that await you, Gatlinburg is the perfect spring getaway destination. Why do you love visiting Gatlinburg in the spring? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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