Ober Gatlinburg Keeps visitors on Top of the World

When you think of Ober Gatlinburg, the first images that come to mind may be of skiers and snowboarders shushing their way down a snow-packed mountainside. And while that's how the resort first made a name for itself, this Gatlinburg attraction has a lot to offer Smoky Mountain visitors all year long.

Ober Gatlinburg's amusement park has plenty of ways for families to have fun, even when the temperatures are on the high side. In fact, in summer you can cool off on the park's water slides or feel the wind in your hair while diving off the bungee tower.

Other attractions include a downhill alpine slide, swinging pirate-ship carnival ride, scenic chairlift to the mountaintop, mini golf, bumper cars and more. There's even a black bear habitat where you can get an up-close view as live bears interact and play. (Note that most activities at Ober Gatlinburg have separate admission charges.)

Of course, once winter sets in, fun lovers continue to flock to Ober Gatlinburg ski resort. With Smoky Mountain skiing, indoor ice skating, dining, shopping and more, all located in one scenic spot, this attraction is still one of the region's top destinations for wintertime fun.

Once there, you can hit any of Ober's eight groomed slopes, which are ideal for both skiers and snowboarders. Two quad and one double lift service the slopes, which range from easy to difficult. Beginners can learn how to get moving at the ski school, and there are equipment and apparel rentals as well.

The slopes host special events throughout the season, including night skiing, which allows skiers to stay on the light runs well into the evening. This year, the resort is also introducing its brand-new snow-tubing park, featuring 10 lanes that drop 50 feet in elevation.

Back inside the resort's main building, you can take a spin on the ice skating rink, enjoy a meal at the restaurant, browse the shopping mall or enjoy any number of indoor amusements such as the Velcro wall and Zeke's Shooting Range.

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. In 2007, the resort replaced its original tramcars, which dated back to 1972, with new high-grade aluminum cars that give passengers more viewing area for enjoying some of the Smokies' most spectacular scenery.

The Ober Gatlinburg tramway has transported more than 18 million passengers since 1972. Service runs to and from downtown Gatlinburg every 20 minutes, and the ride covers 2.1 miles one way between downtown and the resort.