Some people don’t care much for winter and the cold weather that comes with it. But for many others, that’s just when the fun gets started, thanks to places like Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort. Its powdery slopes are the region’s number-one destination for skiers, snowboarders and snow tubers, and when the mercury drops, things really kick into high gear atop Mt. Harrison.
Downhill skiers and snowboarders can choose from as many as nine different trails (the number open on any given day depends on the amount of snowfall), which vary in difficulty, depending on the skier’s level of experience. Seven lifts are ready to transport guests from the main resort to the tops of the respective slopes. There’s even a freestyle terrain park for riders who want to take their skills to the next level.
For those who have never tried their hand at skiing, Ober Gatlinburg offers lessons at the Snowsport Center. Guests can even rent gear, including skis, boards, poles and boots as well as a limited number of helmets, jackets and pants.
Those who want to enjoy the thrill of speeding downhill but don’t want to take on the learning curve of skiing or boarding will enjoy the ease and simplicity of Ober Gatlinburg’s 10-lane snow-tubing course. Just take the Magic Carpet escalator to the top of the hill, plop down in an inner tube and enjoy the multiple peaks and dips that make up the downhill glide.
Because of the resort’s elevation, there’s usually a natural base of snowfall on the mountaintop, but when nature doesn’t pull its weight, Ober Gatlinburg is on hand to top off the surface with its own manufactured powder. So guests typically can enjoy the benefits of all snow-related activities from December through February.
But even during periods where there’s not a lot of snow (including the warmer seasons), there are still several ways to have fun on the slopes of Mt. Harrison. Ober offers a scenic chairlift that provides stunning views of Gatlinburg and surrounding mountains, and the Ski Mountain Coaster is an exciting way to wind down the mountainside at high speed.
In addition, the main facility features an indoor ice-skating rink and a wildlife habitat that’s home to black bears, river otters and several species of nocturnal critters like raccoons, skunks, flying squirrels and snakes. Finally, you can round out your Ober Gatlinburg experience with a wide variety of shops and a full-service restaurant.
To get to Ober Gatlinburg, you can drive to the top of Mt. Harrison via Ski Mountain Rd., but the easiest and most scenic way is to take the Aerial Tramway from the boarding station on the Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg. The tramcars, both of which can accommodate as many as 120 guests, offer breathtaking views of the Smokies on their 2.1-mile trek up the mountainside.
Grab your poles and your bibs! Pack up the skis and snowboards! Just as exciting as Christmas itself is the ski season at Ober Gatlinburg. Vacation rentals begin filling up fast when the snow starts to fall because ski enthusiasts know Tennessee is one of the best places to hit the slopes. From mid-December through early March, the Smoky Mountains call to couples and families who flock to this ever-popular resort.
With an average annual snowfall of 35" and 100% snowmaking capabilities, Ober Gatlinburg is always up and running. As you gear up for your day of fun, you can don your own skis or rent from the pro shop. On-hand professionals will ensure you have the best fit for your body type and experience level. One double and two quad chairlifts usher over 6,000 people an hour to the eight trails that sprawl across the mountain. With a summit elevation of 3,300 feet, the skiing isn't the only thing that's excellent. The views themselves are simply priceless.
Just how fearless are you? From beginners to daredevils, there are several slopes for everyone. Novice skiers and boarders will enjoy the Cub Way and Ski School runs that are more open and provide a gentle incline. If you haven't skied in awhile or you're just starting out, this is the place for you.
More experienced skiers and boarders can choose from four intermediate slopes that progress in difficulty. Castle Run is 1,100 feet long with a 163-foot vertical drop. Alpine Way offers a 2,600-foot run and a 279-foot vertical drop. Bear Run is steeper and longer still with a 3,200-foot run and a 393-foot drop. But the Ober Chute tops them all with the longest run (4,400 feet) and a breathtaking vertical drop of 556 feet!
For those who have no fear, the black diamond runs are right up your alley. Mogul Ridge is a challenging course (aptly named!) filled with thrills. At only 300 feet in length, you might assume it would be a piece of cake. You'd be wrong! What it lacks in distance it more than makes up for in excitement. Mogul Ridge links up with Castle Run to give you a thrill a minute followed by an 800-foot intermediate slope that takes you to the base.
The king of them all, however, is Grizzly! The advanced run stretches 3,800 feet. Want a wild ride? Take the lift to the Ober Chute trail (almost to the summit). Run Ober Chute until it intertwines with Grizzly. Take on the 556-foot vertical drop then swoosh down the mountain until Grizzly joins with Castle Run. Just like a powerful rollercoaster, you'll want to ride it again and again.
While skiing is a main attraction, it's certainly not the only appeal of Ober Gatlinburg. Vacation rentals in this area put you right in the heart of everything fun. Spend one day on the mountain then return the next for excitement and fun in the amusement park.
You'll find an indoor ice rink, the Alpine Slide (a twisting, turning 1,800-foot ride down the mountain on a speed-controlled sled), an aerial tram, a mall, arcade, go-carts and so much more.
The start of each ski season is always busy. Everyone clamors to get here first so you'd be wise to begin your search now for cabin rentals. In Gatlinburg you'll also find plenty of shopping, excellent restaurants and shows. Whether cabin rentals are in Gatlinburg or the surrounding areas, the Smoky Mountains offer a fabulous list of fun activities suitable for all ages. A trip to Ober Gatlinburg always leaves you wanting more!