By Leif Palmer
Posted on February 6, 2020
A few weeks ago, we outlined a bunch of fun things you can still do in Gatlinburg this time of year. After all, they don't roll up the sidewalks around here just because the weather has turned a little cold. In fact, one of the ideas we suggested in our last post is one we're going to go into a little more detail about this week, because it's a place that actually cranks into high gear when cold weather sets in. We're talking about Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort, located on top of Mt. Harrison and overlooking the city of Gatlinburg.
Once winter arrives, fun lovers from all over the region flock to Ober Gatlinburg to enjoy a wide variety of cold-weather sports, including skiing and snowboarding. Once you're up there, you can hit any of Ober's 10 groomed ski trails, which range from easy to difficult and are serviced by three different ski lifts. Beginners can learn how to get moving at the ski school, and there are equipment and apparel rentals as well.
Other wintertime options at Ober Gatlinburg include an outdoor freestyle terrain park, a play area for younger children, ice bumper cars and a snow-tubing park featuring (10) 400-foot-long lanes that drop 50 feet in elevation. Back inside the resort's main building, you can take a spin around the ice skating rink, enjoy a meal at the restaurant, relax in the lounge or browse the shopping mall.
So where does the snow come from? Usually, the resort gets plenty of the white stuff naturally, but when the weather doesn't cooperate, they are capable of covering many of the slopes in manufactured snow, provided the temperatures outside are cold enough.
Ober Gatlinburg hosts a number of special events throughout the season, both on and off the slopes, including the Winter Special Olympics games, Oktoberfest, the Miss Winterfest Pageant, ladies' nights and night skiing, which allows guests to stay on the lighted runs well into the evening. There are also several indoor and outdoor activities that are accessible year-round, including a mountain coaster, scenic chairlift, alpine slide, wildlife encounter, carousel and arcade
While you can certainly drive to Ober Gatlinburg via Ski Mountain Road, the best way to get there is to take the aerial tramway from downtown. Consult our map for plenty of options for parking in downtown Gatlinburg. Once you load onto the tram, the high-capacity cars give passengers plenty of space for transporting their own ski gear as well as enjoying some of the Smokies' most spectacular scenery. In operation since 1972, the tramway runs to and from downtown Gatlinburg every 20 minutes, and the ride covers 2.1 miles one way between downtown and the resort.
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.