Weather in the Smokies

6 Great Tips That Will Help You Drive Safely in Rain and Snow

Many folks describe the weather conditions of the Smokies to be temperate, and large storms and snowfall are not common occurrences in these parts of Tennessee. However, Mother Nature will do as she pleases, and bad weather sometimes happens. Driving in the mountains can be particularly challenging during bad weather because many roads in these parts are narrow and steep with blind curves and low shoulders. But don’t worry! Here are 6 tips that will help you drive safely in rain and snow when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains and surrounding communities.

1. Drive an all-wheel-drive vehicle.

Why? Because all-wheel-drive cars are designed for all-terrain driving. With local roads being steep, winding, and narrow, it is important to drive an all-wheel-drive vehicle to create the traction needed to help you drive in less-than-optimal driving conditions.

2. Try winter snow tires as an alternative.

If you don’t have an all-wheel-drive vehicle, consider swapping your summer or all-season tires for winter snow tires. Unlike regular summer and all-season tires that have rubber that gets cold and hard in cold temperatures, winter snow tires are made of rubber that remains soft and flexible, enabling traction to grip the road surface. 

3. Be a cautious and safe driver.

Even with an all-wheel-drive vehicle and/or winter snow tires, don’t get a false sense of security thinking that you are completely safe from getting into an accident. Instead, be cautious and remember to follow these driving practices to stay safe on the road:

  • Prepare for the worse. It’s a good idea to pack a winter emergency kit in your car when you drive in inclement, snowy weather. Your kit should have an ice scraper, snow shovel, cat litter or sand to give your car traction if you get stuck, flares, flashlight, booster cables, snow chains if you don’t have all-wheel-drive or snow tires, water to drink, and blankets to keep you warm.
  • Slow down your driving speed. Speed limits are for optimal driving conditions on clear, warm days. When the roads are slippery and slushy, you should reduce your speed and take your time traveling.
  • Increase your following distance. Following distance is the distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you. The closer you are, the more likely you will collide with the car ahead of you during bad weather. Your following distance should increase to 8-10 seconds during rainy or snowy days so you can effectively brake in time.
  • Don’t slam on your brakes. If you do find yourself skidding or slipping on the road, try not to slam on your brakes because that will cause your car to lose even more traction! Instead, ease off of your accelerator to let your car slow down on its own, or pump your breaks quickly if your car does not have anti-lock brakes.
  • Use your headlights. Turning on your headlights will help you avoid accidents by allowing other drivers to see you more clearly.
  • Don’t drive empty. Be sure to drive with your gas tank at least half full. Why? Because you want to avoid getting stranded in the middle of nowhere in bad weather, and it will also prevent your gas line from freezing.

4. Don’t drive impaired.

It goes without saying that you should never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But this is especially true when you need to drive in challenging road and weather conditions. Keep yourself and your family safe by staying sober when you drive.

5. Pack food supplies.

If you ever do get snowed in and cannot drive to the local store or restaurants, you want to have food readily available to cook and enjoy while you wait out the storm. If it’s cold, wet, and miserable outside, why not stay warm and cozy with a home-cooked meal?

6. Follow traffic and travel tips from the National Park Service

Be sure to check out the National Park Service’s website for their specific park traffic and travel tips. They provide great tips on how to drive safely within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and up-to-date information on current road and facility closures.

Come Rain or Shine

Although we want you to be prepared for worst-case scenarios, note that bad weather in the Smokies and surrounding areas does not typically keep visitors from traveling and enjoying their trips. In light of this, Mighty Vacay does not offer refunds based on bad weather conditions. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Mighty Vacay