By Leif Palmer
Posted on April 8, 2021
In case you weren't aware, one of Gatlinburg's oldest downtown attractions has reached new heights lately thanks to several expansions and additions. In 1954, the original Gatlinburg SkyLift began transporting visitors from the Parkway to the top of Crockett Mountain via its scenic chairlift. In case you've never ridden one, they're very similar to the types of lifts used at ski resorts. The top of the lift is located 500 vertical feet up the mountain, and from there, passengers enjoy amazing views of downtown below and the Great Smoky Mountains beyond. The original chairlift machinery is long gone, but the latest lift, built in 2017, takes as many as three passengers per seat up the mountain for a smooth ride to the top.
But that's not the only change to the attraction in recent years. Now SkyLift is just one component of Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, which also features SkyBridge, North America's longest pedestrian suspension bridge. The bridge spans 680 feet across a deep ravine in the mountain and stands as high as 150 above the ground at its midpoint. Also at the midpoint is a series of see-through glass floor panels (30 feet long), which allow guests to look straight down toward the valley floor.
The self-guided bridge tour starts at the top of the mountain, at the end of the SkyLift ride. That's also where you'll find SkyCenter and SkyDeck. The first is a two-story facility that has food-and-beverage service and areas for sitting and looking out at the scenery. SkyDeck offers outdoor, open-air viewing options of downtown and the highest peaks in the Smokies.
If you want to do a little more exploring, take a walk along SkyTrail, a scenic walkway consisting of both a boardwalk and a natural trail surface. Measuring over a third of a mile in length, this path follows the crests on both sides of the ravine and leads guests around to the far end of SkyBridge, completing a full circuit around the attraction.
As we mentioned, the SkyLift Park experience starts in downtown Gatlinburg, so if you're visiting for the day or driving in, you'll need to find a good parking location. We have facilities all over downtown, and you'll find that our Gatlinburg parking garage rates are a great value, especially considering that you can leave your vehicle there for the entire day without worries while you walk or take the trolley to your favorite Gatlinburg attractions, restaurants and shops.
About Leif Palmer
Leif Palmer loves residing in Gatlinburg. He is an avid outdoorsman: rowing for exercise on the lake, trail hiking, and free climbing rocks in the mountains. He indulges his arty side by periodically beating up pieces of marble by sculpting. He is always frustrated by his inability to sink long putts, and hates his curly hair (but his wife loves it). Leif has been known to muster enough courage to change a diaper, and hopes his son will become a chip off the old block.