Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area#7 in Best Things To Do in Gatlinburg
The Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area is open 365 days a year. During the winter months from mid-December to mid-March, skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes and even non-skiers enjoy snow tubing. The amusement park, which offers several rides, including a mountain coaster, an indoor ice skating rink, a kiddie park, shops and restaurants and a small zoo, is open throughout the year. Although the resort itself does not offer accommodations, its location just a few miles from Gatlinburg makes it easy to find lodging. You can drive up to the resort (weather permitting) or take the aerial tram from downtown.
Winter visitors raved about the ski instructors, but bemoan the long lines and lack of tickets for snow tubing on weekends and during holidays when the demand for this activity far exceeds the available reservation times. Recent travelers also loved the views from the aerial tram and all of the dining and shopping options at the park, as well as the rides like the mountain coaster, but said the facility could use some maintenance.
In the winter season, slopes are open from noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Adult rates apply for ages 12 to 59: $36 Monday through Friday and $65 on weekends and holidays for full sessions. Amusement park attractions and activities are priced individually. Visitors can drive up on Ski Mountain Road from Gatlinburg and pay to park ($5) or can take the tram from downtown ($12 round trip). Note: The resort closes part of April and May for annual maintenance. For more information, check out the Ober Gatlinburg 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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