This morning we woke up to a beautiful snow covered landscape! This was the first “real” snow that we have seen since we moved to the area, and I have to say, it is a gorgeous sight.
Locals tell us that this has been an unseasonably warm December and January, so we have been taking advantage of the good weather to get some outdoor work done here at The Yellow House. Guests have also been taking advantage of the warmer weather lately as well, spending time wandering the yard’s pond areas, hiking Smoky Mountain National Park, and exploring the many wonderful waterfalls and trails in Pisgah National Forest. However, the impact of the unpredictable snow and cold can make a dent in some travelers’ plans: The Blue Ridge Parkway can be closed down when snow makes driving treacherous, the parks close the pass between Cherokee and Gatlinburg, which limits access to both trails and areas for elk viewing, and many area businesses reduce their opening hours – or completely close up – during the winter months.
Here are a few tips to avoiding those frustrations during your winter trip:
- Always call ahead before you head out. This may seem like an extra bit of busy work, but an extra minute on the phone may save you a headache later. Google may have become our source of truth about opening hours, but with the unpredictability of weather, the heavy seasonality of the area, it definitely pays to call. That little antique shop you wanted to visit may not keep their posted hours that day, so call ahead just to be sure. Also, use resources like the Smokies Road Info Twitter feed to keep informed on road conditions, or the Cataloochee Ski Report to check on slope conditions.
- Rely on local knowledge and experience. If you have traveled much, you know that local insights can make a good trip into a great trip. Don’t be shy about asking for recommendations from locals for restaurants, shopping, or things to do. Also, when visiting the parks, stop at the Ranger stations and ask about what you should visit today. When weather changes, some trails may close, but other trails may be open and accessable – the rangers are your best source of information, and that is what they are there for!
- Take a flexible approach to your day. Approach the day with a plan, but if it starts to snow, your plans may be changed for you. Embrace the opportunity to discover something new and unexpected. If you discover can’t get access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, head to Bryson City and take a train ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad instead. Go shopping on one one of the many main streets in Waynesville, Sylva, Dillsboro, or Canton. Have a beer at one of the many local breweries, go night skiing or tubing at Cataloochee Ski Area, or spend the day exploring Asheville.
Safe travels, and we hope to see you soon!
Chad, Josh, and Harry