Did you know there’s a ski resort right in Gatlinburg? The Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park & Ski Area is a popular year-round tourist destination in the Smokies and it’s not hard to see why.
The Smoky Mountains are truly one of the great wonders of nature in the United States. They stretch over two states, span 384 miles, and offer so much to see and do in towns like Gatlinburg.
One of the best Smoky Mountains ski resorts, Ober Gatlinburg offers year-round fun and plenty to do, whether you want to ski, shop, see wildlife, get a bite to eat, or even go tubing. You can take an aerial tramway right into Ober Gatlinburg and let your adventure begin.
Getting to Know Ober Gatlinburg
You may not automatically think of skiing when you think of the Smokies, but skiing Gatlinburg has long been a part of Ober Gatlinburg’s appeal.
Its predecessor, the Gatlinburg Ski Resort opened in 1962, which means there’s been a place to ski in the Smokies for 60 years. In 1973, the Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway opened, and in 1977, the two companies merged to become Ober Gatlinburg.
Through the years, different attractions have been added to add to the park’s appeal. An upper mall was added in 1892 and snow tubing was added as an activity in 2008.
In 2012, a SnowMagic snowmaking system was installed at Ober Gatlinburg. This provides several benefits, including allowing the area to open up before natural snow starts falling. The area gets about nine inches of snow a year, so the ability to make its own snow keeps the skiing opportunities going longer into the year.
Best Things to Do at Ober Gatlinburg TN Year-Round
As its name implies, Ober Gatlinburg was first created as a ski area. So if you love winter outdoor sports, you can spend plenty of time skiing and snowboarding Gatlinburg.
But the area offers so much more than that and so much to do no matter when you visit, whether you want to spend time outside or stay inside shopping and dining. There are plenty of seasonal activities as well as year-round attractions to enjoy.
Winter Fun at Ober Gatlinburg
Ober Gatlinburg is the place to go if you’re looking for winter fun and is considered one of the best things to do in Gatlinburg in December through March. Not only does the area offer many fun activities, but it also offers equipment rentals, including jackets, snow pants, helmets, and more.
Skiing & Snowboarding Gatlinburg TN
If you want to ski in the Smokies, Ober Gatlinburg is the place to go. Whether you’re spending a day or a long weekend, this is a great way to start your adventure.
Let’s say you’re visiting Gatlinburg in December and are looking to enjoy a day of Gatlinburg TN skiing, you won’t want to miss taking the best ski lift Gatlinburg offers to the top of Ober mountain. Typically, the ski season here lasts from early December to about mid-March, depending on the weather conditions.
Ober Gatlinburg offers two advanced slops as well as two beginner runs and six intermediate slopes, so you can hit the slopes no matter what your skill level is.
Ober Gatlinburg Snow Tubing
Ober Gatlinburg snow tubing is something you just need to experience for yourself. Snow tubing season also begins on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and goes through March.
Think of riding an inner tube on a summer day. Now picture that, but gliding down a snowy hill. The area has a Magic Carpet outdoor escalator that takes visitors back up the hill once they reach the bottom.
Sessions are typically 90 minutes long and the tubing hill is 350 long with a 50-foot drop. If you’ve got young kids, they need to be accompanied by an adult when tubing.
Take Time to Relax
After an active day of Gatlinburg TN skiing, relaxing is the perfect way to cap the day. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or you just want to sit and relax, the choice is yours. You can visit the Loft Lounge for a beer, a cocktail, or a glass of wine, as well as something to nosh on and enjoy scenic dining while you do.
If you’re out and about, you can also visit one of the multiple snack bars for a quick bite or take time to visit one of Ober Gatlinburg’s 15 different shops.
Have Fun Ice Skating
Ice skating Ober Gatlinburg is possible year-round, including in the summertime. That’s because the area offers indoor ice skating year-round for experienced skaters and those just learning to ice skate. So grab a pair of skates and spent an afternoon gliding around.
Spring Fun at Ober Gatlinburg
When the snow melts and the weather warms up, Ober Gatlinburg is the place for family fun. Some of the best spring activities include:
Slide Down the Alpine Slide
Grab a sled and prepare to slide down the Smokies. Visitors can take the scenic chairlift to the midway point of the mountain and slide down on one of two tracks, all while controlling their speed.
If you love thrill rides, challenge friends or family to races as you take in the great views of the mountains.
Play a Round of Mini Golf
Mini golf is always fun, but imagine playing it on top of the Smokies. The O’Bears mini golf course offers 18 holes at the base of the scenic chairlift. Try your best to beat your family and friends as you steal views of Mount Harrison.
The course is closed in the winter but is open in the spring, summer, and fall.
Ride the Carousel
Every amusement park area needs a carousel and Ober Gatlinburg has this classic ride to offer fun for the whole family. Hop on a horse and relax as you spin round and round.
Summer Fun at Ober Gatlinburg
Winter is the peak season for snow fun, but that doesn’t mean the fun stops when the snow melts. Some of the best summer activities include:
Go on a Water Raft Ride
What better way to cool off during summer than with a water raft ride? Shoot the Chute on a super-fast ride to the bottom of a splash pool or take a ride on the Lightin’ Water Ride open-air water slide. Either way, you’ll be all smiles the whole time.
See Animals on the Wildlife Encounter
The Wildlife Encounter at Ober Gatlinburg is a privately-funded zoo with many animals to see. Visitors will delight in seeing the encounter’s black bears, cute river otters, and other animals like foxes, bobcats, turtles, and birds of prey.
Ride the Ski Mountain Coaster
This is another year-round attraction that’s fun for the whole family. It starts with a relaxing 1,000-foot scenic ride to the top and from there, a rider can control their speed as they zig-zag, dip and turn down the mountain. Strap in and prepare for a fun ride.
Fall Fun at Ober Gatlinburg
Fall in the Smokies is always a fun time and Ober Gatlinburg offers lots to do once you take the Ober Gatlinburg tram ride up.
Explore the Trails at Ober
Open from late May through October, the Trails are one of the area’s newer attractions. Once visitors take the scenic chairlift to the trailhead, they can hike through the woods around the ski slopes that border the Smokies.
The trails are fairly easy to navigate and offer plenty of beautiful scenery and chances for photo ops.
Ride the Scenic Chairlift
One of the area’s most peaceful activities is the scenic chairlift, where you can see all the pretty fall colors without having to hike. The ride takes you up more than 3,400 feet above sea level — higher than any chairlift in Gatlinburg.
Sit back and enjoy the smooth ride and incredible views you won’t find anywhere else.
Climb the Rock Wall
This 30-foot rock climbing wall is also a newer attraction and is a great activity for climbers of all ages. Enjoy climbing to the top and rappeling to the bottom as you test your skills.
Ober Gatlinburg FAQs
If Ober Gatlinburg is on your bucket list of places to visit, here are some frequently asked questions and answers to help guide you as you plan your trip.
When is Ober Gatlinburg open?
Ober Gatlinburg TN is open year-round and actual open hours can be found here.
Does Ober Gatlinburg have fake snow?
No. The snow at Ober Gatlinburg is not fake, but the snow made by the snowmaking system has a different crystalline pattern than regular falling snow and is more durable as a result.
How much does Ober Gatlinburg cost?
Ober Gatlinburg has several different kinds of admission wristbands available that allow access to different attractions. Tickets for the Ober Gatlinburg aerial tram are also required and not included in the wristband prices since it’s a separate attraction.
How long do you spend at Ober Gatlinburg?
The simple answer is that it depends on how busy it is and what you plan to do. If you’re only taking the aerial tram up the mountain and coming back down, it may be an hour. If you plan to spend some time doing activities like summer tubing, you may be there for several hours at a minimum.
Can you drive to Ober Gatlinburg?
Yes, you can drive to Ober Gatlinburg TN. There’s about a three-mile, uphill mountain drive from the tram stop in downtown Gatlinburg to the top of the mountain. Parking only costs $10, but space may be limited depending on when you visit.
Plan Your Visit to Ober Gatlinburg Now
With so many tourist attractions and fun year-round activities, the best time to visit Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park & Ski Area in Gatlinburg Tennessee is right now.
The whole family can enjoy the wide array of snow-centric activities, take in scenic views of the Smokies from a variety of spots, and get lost exploring all the restaurants and shops there. Nestled in the Smokies is a place that’s calling you for an adventure, so start planning your trip today.