North America / United States / Tennessee / Gatlinburg
To be completely honest, when I walked into Ober’s downtown building, I had no idea what it was beyond a scenic tram ride up the mountain.
The end of the 2.1 mile trip is the Ober Gatinlinburg, a multi-season ski resort, with year-round activities such as an alpine slide, scenic chairlift, and ice rink. Guest have the option to get here via the tram from downtown, or by car. Yup, you can also drive up the mountain and park at the resort. THeir website is super informative, and very well laid out.
The cozy downtown building is actually a mini mall with a handful of shops, including food vendors. It looks a bit dated and the selection is pretty limited, but you’re basically just here to wait for a ride to the top! The booth sells round trip tickets for $13 as of Summer 2017.
When full, the tram holds 120 people, and travels an average of 5mph up the steep climb, for a total distance of 2.1 miles. It gets crowded in there for sure, so make sure to get a window view!
The 360 degree overlook of Gatlinburg as you climb up the mountain are breathtaking. They remind me of Al Teleferiqo in Quito… but at 5,000 feet less elevation. You will get excellent views of condominiums, luxury homes, extravagant cabins, and windy mountain roads while narrated by a local guide.
At the top, your activity options are endless, but their availability will vary by season.
You can always count on ice-skating, video games, and (subpar) snack bar food.
There is no snow on the ground here for at least half the year, so it’s more like an amusement park outside during the summer. Enjoy chairlifts, a hedge maze, thrill rides, and my favorite, the Alpine Slide! It is a wheeled bobsled on a concrete tube downhill track. You can get going really fast, specially on the banked turns!
Rides are sold based on a ticket system and seems to be fairly reasonably priced. I spent about $45 total on and afternoon will with food, rides, games, and the tram. Remember that families and groups of people can drive and save $13 per person on the tram fee.
After about 3 hours at the top it was time to head back down. Take a look at the schedule and time your activities around it to avoid a long wait.
The huge tram towers remind me of those that ran alongside the Queensboro bridge in New York City, where I grew up…
but the scenery is nothing like the East River.
I would say that Ober Gatlinburg is a MUST see at least once when visiting this mountain town in Eastern Tennessee. Enjoy your travels!