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Gatlinburg: An Adventurous Getaway In The Great Smoky Mountains

TheTravel logo TheTravel 8/4/2022 Aaron Spray
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  • Gatlinburg - A Town Bursting With Man-Made Attractions
  • Ober Gatlinburg - Tennessee's Only Ski Resort
  • A Gateway To The Great Smoky Mountains

Nestled in the mountains of Tennessee, Gatlinburg is the gateway to the most popular national park in the United States - the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is a small but very popular vacation resort settlement with a resident population of around 4,000. If going to Gatlinburg at the height of the tourist season, plan ahead as things can sell out.

Gatlinburg is part of the greater Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge resort town area and is a great place for families. It has plenty of attractions for kids of all ages - think magical treehouse villages or duel ziplines. Enjoy rollercoaster rides, year-round ice staking, and family-oriented amusement parks. This area is a great place to discover the best of the culture of the South.

Gatlinburg - A Town Bursting With Man-Made Attractions

Besides offering stunning views of the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is full of man-made attractions. They cater to families through to thrill-seekers.

  • Location: Sevier County, Tennessee
  • Population: 4,000

Attractions include a ski resort, the Gatlinburg SkyLift, the Gatlinburg Space Needle, the longest footbridge in the USA (it bridges two mountains), the Iris Theater, the Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community, Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, and just down the road in Pigeon Forge are the major attractions of Dollywood and Dollywood's Splash Country.

  • Gatlinburg SkyLift: Takes Tourists To 1,800 Feet To Crockett Mountain
  • Gatlinburg Space Needle: 407 Feet High Observation Tower with 360 Degree Views
  • Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community: A 8-Mile Loop With Traditional Mountain Crafts

These are only a few of the many attractions in Gatlinburg - plus many more just a short drive away in Pigeon Forge (like the massive Titanic Museum and Dolly Parton's Stampede dinner). Pigeon Forge has also just gotten its first ever 'zipline roller coaster.'

Due to their proximity, one can also consider (for the purposes of planning one's trip) the attractions in Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountains to be part of Gatlinburg.

A slightly more unusual attraction for Gatlinburg is getting married there in one of its 20 wedding chapels. This is due to it being relatively easy to get a marriage license in the state - Gatlinburg has become a popular destination for weddings and honeymoons.

  • July Midnight Parade: The First In the Nation At 12.01 am

While this season may be over now, plan for next year to spend July 4th in Gatlinburg. They start their July 4th celebrations before anyone else with their July Midnight Parade beginning at 12:01 a.m.

Related: Hiking Guide: Best Trails In Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Ober Gatlinburg - Tennessee's Only Ski Resort

It is also home to the only ski resort in the state of Tennessee - Ober Gatlinburg. This makes it a year-round destination with winter sports to enjoy in the chillier months of the year. Come in the Christmas season, and one will be greeted with the whole downtown decked out with lights for the annual Winterfest Celebration.

  • Ober Gatlinburg: The Only Ski Resort In Tennessee

Ober Gatlinburg has eight ski trails, three chair lifts, and the opportunity to ski, snowboard, snow tube, ice skate, or just play in the Cubbies Snow Zone. The ski season is typically from December to March, while snow tubing starts on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

  • Skiing Season: Generally Early-Mide December to Mid-March (Weather Dependent)
  • Snow Tubing Season: The Saturday Before Thanksgiving to March

Admission Fees:

  • Aerial Tramway: $19.00
  • Wildlife Encounter: $10.00
  • Skiing: Not Yet Available For The 2022/2023 Season

They also have an indoor ski-skating ring, an Aerial Tramway, Mountaintop Park, and even a wildlife encounter area. Their hours change by season and particular attraction - refer to their website.

Related: Maggie Valley: This Town Is Closest To The Smoky Mountains

A Gateway To The Great Smoky Mountains

Gatlinburg is right on the verge of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. From there, it's easy to spend the day exploring the most visited national park in the country. Hike on the over 900 miles of hiking trails and discover the various historical settlements in the park.

  • Hiking Trails: Over 900 Miles

The park is also famous for its stunning cascading waterfalls and the eye-catching views of the Smoky Mountains "smoking" (actually, the collective vapor exhaled from the millions of trees that create a blanket of fog).

Activities to enjoy in the national park include guided nature hikes, river rafting, picnicking, and horseback riding.

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