Tips for Handling Snowy Conditions in the Mountains

snowy smoky mountains

Here in the Smoky Mountains, the weather takes on a new importance. We have ever-changing weather patterns that result in broad fluctuations in temperature. So, it is important to check the weather frequently so you have an idea of what is in store in the days to come.

When ice and snow do come our way, it really isn’t a big deal – so long as you don’t try to pretend it never happened and continue with business as usual! THAT is a recipe for trouble! With a few adjustments and accommodations, wintry weather can be changed from a vacation-spoiling inconvenience into a vacation-enhancing adventure!

If you find that your visit to Bryson City will coincide with snow and ice, there are a few  things you can do to make things a bit easier:

1-      Prepare for the weather. Bring in some extra wood before the snow falls so you can enjoy a nice fire without having to go outside for more wood.  Sometimes, the snowfall results in a temporary power outage. To prepare for this possibility, it is wise to charge cell phones and computers and have a flashlight handy (or install a flashlight app on your smartphone).  Also, make sure you have food prepared beforehand so if the power does go out, meals can still be served.

2-      Don’t plan to drive early. When it snows, roads may be icy and slick, making driving much more challenging or maybe even dangerous. We advise that you enjoy your cabin and don’t plan to leave until the snow starts to melt a bit, which usually happens mid-morning with a light snowfall. By noon, most of the roads have been scraped and it is much safer to drive. If you are concerned about driving on icy roads, you can call the Watershed office and arrange for a late check-out. If the weather is severe and it is too dangerous to drive at all, it may be necessary to make arrangements to stay another night.

3-      Park at the end of the road. While the roads may be passable, the driveway leading to your Watershed Cabin may be much more difficult to navigate in snowy conditions.  If the roads are impassable, it is unlikely that Watershed staff will be able to help you get out of your driveway and a tow service would be costly. If driving is essential, your best bet is to park at the bottom of the driveway and walk down to your car when you are ready to leave. You may slip and slide a little on the way down, but it is much better than having to get your car towed if you slide into a ditch!

4-      Drive SLOWLY! If you must drive while the roads are icy and slick, please be careful! Put the car in low gear and drive very slowly. Keep plenty of distance between you and other cars and follow in tracks left by other vehicles.  When you need to slow down, do so by downshifting and tapping the brakes. Putting constant pressure on your brakes in icy conditions can result in skidding, sliding or spinning.

Once the roads are plowed and it is safer to drive, take advantage of the snow! Head over to Cataloochee Ski Area for skiing, snowboarding or snow tubing; go for a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and experience the profound silence of the forest after a snowfall; or you can choose to stay where you are and make a snowman have a snowball fight or just cuddle up near the fire and enjoy the weather!

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