Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway#4 in Best Things To Do in Gatlinburg
For a bird's-eye view of the Gatlinburg area and the Smokies, hop on the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway, one of the country's largest tramways. Catch the tram in downtown Gatlinburg for a 2.1-mile ride up the mountain to its peak at 11,088 feet. At the top, you'll find shopping, dining, an amusement park, an ice skating rink and a small zoo (note that all of the Ober Gatlinburg attractions require additional fees not included in your tramway ticket). To continue your vertical ascent, you can take the chair lift from the peak (for an additional charge) for even more incredible views.
Although most recent visitors said the views were amazing, some described the cable car ride as scary. Others were disappointed with the state of the attractions at the top, and more than one recent guest complained about the customer service. However, other travelers loved the variety of shops, as well as the Ski Mountain Coaster and the alpine slide.
Catch the cable car in downtown Gatlinburg at Parkway and LeConte Street. A round-trip fare costs $12 for adults and $9.50 for children ages 5 to 11. The tram runs from 9:30 a.m. to 6:40 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 8:40 p.m. To learn more about the aerial tram and all of its attractions, visit its website.
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#1 Great Smoky Mountains National Park
One of only a few national parks that do not charge an admission fee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also the most visited, welcoming more than 10 million travelers annually. The 522,427-acre park is shared by Tennessee and North Carolina with the border running through the center. In addition to hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, the park offers historical exhibits, including original Appalachian cabins, and scenic drives to popular spots like Cades Cove and the waterfalls on the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. If you love seeing wildlife in its natural habitat, Cades Cove is a great place to spot deer and black bears. Start at the Sugarland Visitor Center to get an overview of the area's history and pick up trail maps, or head to what is known as "the locals entrance" at Greenbrier a little more than 2 miles east of Gatlinburg. Trailheads to Ramsay Cascades, Porter's Creek and Injun Creek start here, and it's often much less crowded than other areas of the park.
Recent visitors raved about the Roaring Fork Motor Trail, describing it as "a must-see" with awesome views. The one-way, narrow road can be crowded in peak seasons (summer and the month of October), so reviewers advised going early in the morning, especially to hike the many trailheads that originate along the way. Many visitors recommend hiking to Grotto Falls (stop No. 5 on the Roaring Fork Motor Trail) and most were also excited to see bears and other wildlife along the route. Recent visitors also said the Cades Cove Loop is a great place for viewing wildlife, but they advise packing a lunch and drinks and to be prepared to spend a half-day or more exploring the historic cabins and sites along the way. As with the Roaring Fork Motor Trail, traffic can be heavy during peak times.
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