There’s something about the mountain sky at night, especially when it’s cold and crisp and the air can sting your lungs.
When you get up in the high mountains where you can really see the sky, it feels like you could reach out and swirl it around.
At Anakeesta you’re close enough to Gatlinburg’s lights that you don’t quite get that full effect.
But that’s a small trade-off to having hot tea, coffee or cocoa – or possibly something stronger – right there to help stave off the cold, dark night.
A lot of people ask me, when is the best time of day to go to Anakeesta?
If you’ve got kids, go during the day. They can explore, ride the rides, see the views and maybe get lunch. As the sun goes down, so should you.
But if you’re among adults with adult-sized attention spans and the ability to enjoy and appreciate leisure, at Anakeesta, the nighttime is the right time.
Just remember, if you’re planning a nighttime visit, you’ll want to get up the mountain well before dark just so you have enough time to experience all that Anakeesta has to offer.
Tips on what to wear at Anakeesta at night
There are some tricks to getting the most enjoyment out of your trip to Anakeesta including knowing how to dress.
Anakeesta at night in the summer is maybe a light jacket if you’re prone to getting cold but mostly it’s just refreshing after the day’s heat.
The other seasons of the year, however, require a little more attention be paid.
Once the sun goes down, the temperature at that elevation will quickly follow.
In late September or October – or in the spring – the daytime/nighttime temperature swings in the mountains can be dramatic.
Also, on top of the mountain, you can expect cool breezes to kick up. And in late October, November or December these breezes can turn quite cold.
The key is dressing in layers, something you can easily slip on as the temperature drops.
In the winter months, you’ll want gloves and something to cover your ears and your face – like a scarf.
I’m sure Anakeesta does very well selling cold-weather gear to tourists who think it can’t get cold in the South.
Things to do at Anakeesta at night
Walking the Tree Canopy at night as the lights dance through the forest is peaceful and the view from the AnaVista Tower as the sun goes down is magnificent.
My favorite thing about Anakeesta at night, however, is leaving.
The chondola ride back to town at night is maybe the best ride in Gatlinburg. You’re up above the treetops, gently bouncing in the moonlight as the lights of Gatlinburg slowly get bigger down below.
When does Anakeesta close?
In the spring and summer, you can expect the sun to set around 7:30-8:30 pm. And although times vary throughout the season, Anakeesta normally closes around 9 pm on weekdays and 10 pm on the weekends.
If you really want to explore the park after dusk you might want to go on a non-weekday to give yourself more time.
In the fall and winter, you can expect the sun to set around 5:30 pm-6:30 pm with Anakeesta closing around 8 pm most nights.
But as we said before, strive to make your way up the mountain long before the sun sets. Especially in the fall.
As the leaves begin changing, you’ll want to be able to experience the views with the kaleidoscope of color shining across the mountains. Watch the light show as the sun sets and then soak up the night sky.
Hours may change due to special events or unforeseen circumstances and tend to vary wildly. We recommend calling or checking the website prior to your visit.
What do tickets include?
At the time of this writing, a general admission ticket for Anakeesta is $28.99 for adults ages 12 to 59. Kids 4 to 11 are $19.99 and seniors are $21.99. Kids three and under are free.
Your general admission ticket gets you access to the following:
- Unlimited Chondola or Ridge Rambler rides to the summit
- North America’s longest Treetop Skywalk
- BearVenture and TreeVenture Challenge Course
- Vista Gardens with AnaVista Tower, downtown Gatlinburg’s highest point
- Treehouse Village Adventure
- Memorial Forest Interpretive Walk
- Shopping and scenic dining opportunities
- Gorgeous scenic views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Gatlinburg
It costs extra to ride the ziplines or the mountain coaster or to do the gem mining. The zipline price – which includes your general admission – is $83.98 (adult), $74.98 (senior), $70.98 (child).
The Rail Runner Mountain Coaster is $12.99 for a single and $14.99 for a tandem ride. Gem mining prices begin at $8.
It is worth noting if you buy a ticket at the box office within an hour of closing, you can come back the next day for free.
Anakeesta discount tickets
You can buy tickets at the box office, but it is probably better to buy online at Tripster (a TripAdvisor company) before you go, allowing you to both save a couple of dollars and bypass the line. Meaning you to go straight to the chondola for the ride up the mountain upon arrival.
And, if you think you’ll go to Anakeesta more than once a year, the annual pass may be your best bet.
Prices for the annual pass range from $51.99 to $59.99 and the passes come with a wide array of discounts. An annual pass gives you the opportunity to see the mountains in every season, from snow peaks to spring, through the lush green summer into colorful fall.
Have you visited Anakeesta? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.