There are plenty of places to get in some swimming and splashing around during your time in the Smokies – and some stay warm and enclosed during the winter, offering options at any time of year.
While Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open year round with free admission, and contains thousands of miles of flowing water, unless you’re fishing you probably don’t want to take a dip in winter. Best to know about the indoor spots during the chilly seasons.
Splash Country in Pigeon Forge is the most famous water park in the area of course – operated as part of the world famous Dollywood amusement park – and the longest standing, but it closes in winter. Two indoor water parks that are open through the winter are Wild Bear Falls in Gatlinburg, and Wild Water Dome just a few miles up the road in Sevierville.
Wild Bear Falls is part of a resort operated by Westgate, but you don’t have to stay there to play there – the water park operates on a separate ticket, whether for resort guests or day-visitors. This is great news for those who prefer to stay in their own private accommodations such as one of the many vacation cabins. So there’s no need to stay in the confines of a hotel just to enjoy a day at the water park.
Wild Water Dome is Tennessee’s largest indoor water park, with a transparent rook that lets the sunshine in even as it keeps the cold air outside, where we like it to stay. Outside, in summer, is the parent water park operation of Wilderness at the Smokies.
And right across the street is a new water park, operated by the same company, called Soaky Mountain Waterpark. This is an outdoor park, also closed in winter. Both places boast an ice skating rink that opens in wither, for those who like their water frozen.
Speaking of ice skating rinks, Gatlinburg’s own ski resort, Ober Mountain, has a large indoor ice rink, open year round in its indoor shopping mall on the mountain. The resort also has ice bumper cars on a portion of the rink, for those who prefer to skate on the ice sitting down.
Some of the hotels have indoor pools that stay warm in the winter – but again you generally have to stay in the hotel lodging to enjoy the water. A few cabin resorts have year-round pools that are kept warm, and many have seasonal pools – see our descriptions of the Gatlinburg cabin resorts and the Pigeon Forge resorts.
Another option for warm water fun in the winter is a cabin with its own indoor swimming pool. We have several of these that often are available to book – see our current list of Cabins With Swimming Pools. This option could eliminate all need to go anywhere. Just stay in the cabin and take a swim when you please, and venture out on excursions in between. Sounds perfect.
And when summer rolls around as it does each year, there’s water everywhere, it seems, and maybe you’ll head to one of our Favorite Swimming Holes in the area.
By the way, if you’re planning to visit Splash Country or Dollywood, here are some of our Best Cabins Near Dollywood.