Anakeesta vs SkyPark: Which Attraction Is Better? (2023)

Anakeesta entrance (left) vs skypark entrance (right)

Anakeesta and SkyLift Park are both mountain top, chairlift accessible attractions located in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Both offer incredible views of the Smokies (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Anakeesta vs SkyPark: A Side-by-Side Comparison

While both Anakeesta and SkyPark (formerly SkyLift Park) offer fun ways to soak in gorgeous views of the Great Smoky Mountains, it can be hard to choose just one. So let’s compare some of the differences between Anakeesta and SkyPark to help you plan your next Gatlinburg vacation. Note: Prices mentioned in this article are subject to change.

Gatlinburg SkyPark and Anakeesta are similar attractions in Gatlinburg, Tennessee that both offer beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountains. While SkyPark is a little cheaper, Anakeesta has more activities and things to do, which might make it the better option for families with kids. Anakeesta also offers better dining options overall. However, for families with fur babies, SkyPark would be better since Anakeesta does not allow dogs and SkyPark does.

RELATED VIDEO: Anakeesta vs SkyPark: A Comparison

anakeesta chondala (left), skypark chairlift (right)
Anakeesta (left) is the newer of the two attractions with a modern chairlift (aka the Chondola) complete with (optional) closed cart transport and larger benches. SkyPark (right) has smaller seats and is completely open-air (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Similarities between the two

Why are these two attractions often compared to one another? They have a lot in common: They are both located in downtown Gatlinburg and offer breathtaking views of the mountains. Both have a chairlift. Both offer food, snacks and drinks. And let’s be honest, both could offer a solid challenge for a person with a fear of heights.

Anakeesta Ridge Rambler (left), SkyPark chairlift (right)
Anakeesta (left) offers two ways to get up the mountain: by chairlift (Chondola) or Ridge Rambler (truck). SkyPark (right), by contrast, only has the SkyLift chairlift (photos by Morgan Overholt & Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

Elevation and transportation

Winner in this category: Anakeesta

Anakeesta, located 600 feet above Gatlinburg, may be a less scary option for those with a fear of heights for two reasons. Firstly, there’s getting up the mountain. While you can ride a chairlift to get to either attraction, Anakeesta also offers a Ridge Rambler, which is basically a big truck you can ride in lieu of the chairlift. SkyPark, located 1800 feet above sea level, offers no such option, and the only way to get up to the park is to take the SkyLift. Secondly, it doesn’t feel like you’re up that high once you’re on top of the mountain at Anakeesta. Those who have a fear of heights have plenty of areas to stretch out far from nearby cliffs and overlooks.

The Gatlinburg SkyBridge at SkyPark is famous, claiming the title for the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in all of North America. The SkyBridge spans 680 feet with glass floor panels at the center. The midpoint is 140 feet off the ground. It’s both gorgeous and nerve-wracking, even for those who aren’t entirely fearful of heights.

By contrast, Anakeesta offers what they call the longest “tree-based” skywalk in North America. But it’s not to be confused with the SkyBridge behemoth. I consider the Anakeesta skywalk like a baby version of the SkyBridge. Anakeesta’s skywalk spans in total about 880 feet, but it’s only suspended 50-60 feet in the air.

cliff top at anakeesta (left), skybridge at skypark (right)
Tickets to Anakeesta, at the time of this writing, are a bit more expensive than SkyPark. Plus, there are more money-spending temptations and extras at Anakeesta like fine dining, mountain coasters, and ziplining. Pictured: Anakeesta’s Cliff Top restaurant (left) and SkyPark’s famous SkyBridge (right) (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Which one is cheaper?

Winner in this category: SkyPark

Depending on the type of ticket purchased, general admission at SkyPark is slightly cheaper than general admission at Anakeesta. Especially if you have a lot of kids in tow.

At the time of this writing, general admission tickets for Anakeesta are $34.99 for adults, $27.99 for seniors and $22.99 for kids (ages 4-11). Kids 3 and under are free. But, discounts are available. For instance, you can usually save a couple of bucks when you book on Tripster. Note: We highly recommend buying online before you go as lines at the Anakeesta ticket counter can be long.

Anakeesta also offers a 10% active/retired military discount for the ID holder and their immediate family. Anakeesta offers offers a 20% discount for local residents (with proof of residency). They also offer a 10% discount for AAA members.

There are multiple types of admission at SkyPark. And prices can go up or down depending on the day. The first is the unlimited reentry SkyPass (starts at $34 per adult, $27 per senior, $20 per kid 6-11). The SkyPass must be purchased at least 3 days in advance online. It’s great for days when you might want to catch both the sunrise and sunset on the SkyBridge but want to see other area attractions in the meantime. The second is the general admission Single Ride pass (starts at $27 per adult, $20 per senior, $13 per kid 6-11) – an online ticket that allows a single entry into the park. The Single Ride must also be purchased 3 days in advance online. Children under 5 are free. All tickets include access to the SkyLift chairlift and SkyBridge. Tickets are also available for purchase on-site.

SkyPark offers $3 military discounts at the ticket booth on-site for military members (with military ID). Local residents also receive special rates with proof of residency.

Anakeesta's RailRunner (left) and SkyPark's SkyBridge (right)
There are more things to do at Anakeesta (left) including the Treetop SkyWalk, mountain coasters, and ziplining. SkyPark’s (right) offerings are a bit more limited. After you walk the famous SkyBridge, it’s mostly just a variety of trails and scenic overlooks (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Which has more things to do?

Winner in this category: Anakeesta

Anakeesta offers plenty of things to do for kids, including the Treehouse Village Adventure, BearVenture, the TreeVenture Challenge Course and even a splash pad for warmer months, all of which are included with the price of admission. The adults will enjoy the many shopping areas, restaurants, Treetop Skywalk, Memorial Forest Walk, Vista Gardens, and the all-new AnaVista observation tower. Additionally, Anakeesta also offers two mountain coasters and a dueling zipline for an extra fee. Anakeesta has so much to offer, and they continue to expand and add to the Anakeesta experience.

By contrast, SkyPark is home of the SkyLift, SkyBridge, SkyDeck, SkyCenter and SkyTrail. The most famous and most thrilling thing to experience at Skypark is the SkyBridge. The SkyCenter building has a gift shop and snack bar that offers pizza, salads, ice cream and more, with a seating area that overlooks Gatlinburg.

In general, while there is plenty to do at each attraction, Anakeesta offers more bang for the buck. You could easily spend half a day at Anakeesta. But you’ll be finished at SkyPark after 2-3 hours (tops).

a dog on the skybridge
This brave pup belongs to SkyLift Park’s Marketing Director Marcus Watson (photo courtesy of Gatlinburg’s SkyLift Park)

Are dogs allowed at either?

Winner in this category: SkyPark

Pets are not allowed at Anakeesta (with the exception of ADA service dogs), but dogs are allowed at SkyPark. If you wish to bring your dog to SkyPark, dog owners must adhere to the dog policy, which includes guidelines such as:

  • Dogs must be leashed at all times
  • Dog owners must securely hold their dog on the SkyLift
  • Owners must always accompany the dog and are responsible for the dog’s behavior
anakeesta bbq nachos (left), skydeck beer (right)
Anakeesta has way more dining options than SkyPark. Pictured: BBQ nachos from Anakeesta’s Smokehouse (left) and a beer from SkyPark’s SkyDeck snack bar (right) (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Which has better restaurants?

Winner in this category: Anakeesta

While you can get snacks and pizza at the Gatlinburg SkyCenter at SkyPark, dining options are limited. Anakeesta, by contrast, has plenty of restaurants that are simply hard to beat. At Anakeesta, you have many choices, including:

  • Cliff Top (table service, American cuisine)*
  • Smokehouse (covered seating, BBQ)
  • Bar at the Top of the World (bar, tables available)
  • Kephart Cafe (quick service, pizza)
  • Tap House (quick service, bar)
  • Pearl’s Pie in the Sky (offers desserts)
  • Snack Shack (quick service, sweet treats)
  • The Watering Can (quick service, bar)
  • Tennessee SideCar (quick service, walking tacos)
  • Rocky Top Canteen (quick service, tacos)

*Be sure to plan ahead when dining at Cliff Top as they do not take reservations.

anakeesta aerial view (left), skypark skytrail entrance (right)
While both parks offer wheelchair-accessible areas, there’s more to do from an accessibility standpoint at Anakeesta (left) (photos by Morgan Overholt and Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

Is either attraction wheelchair accessible?

Winner in this category: Anakeesta

Anakeesta offers wheelchair-accessible areas, which include the Firefly Village shops, dining pavilions and scenic viewing platforms. Visit their park policies page to learn more.

The Gatlinburg SkyPark staff also accommodates disabled individuals on the SkyLift, SkyDeck and lower levels of the SkyCenter. However, the SkyBridge is not wheelchair accessible. Visit their website for more information. And only a portion of the SkyTrail is accessible.

alaina on the treetop skywalk at anakeesta (left) and morgan at skypark (right)
Our staff, pictured at each attraction – Anakeesta (left) and SkyPark (right) – recommend both attractions. But we admit there’s more to do overall at Anakeesta (photos by Marie Graichen and James Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Conclusion: Anakeesta vs SkyPark: Which is better?

In conclusion, if you want to eat your way through a relaxing vacation while gazing at incredible views, you could probably toggle between both attractions and be a very happy camper. While it’s hard to compete with the variety of things to do at Anakeesta, the famous SkyBridge is just simply a one-of-a-kind experience. If you have the opportunity to visit both, go for it! But if not, we hope this guide will help you choose between the two attractions.

What’s YOUR opinion on the differences between Anakeesta and SkyPark? Let us know in the comments!

Have a question or comment about something in this article? Contact our staff here. You may also contact our editorial team at info@thesmokies.com.

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Disclosure: We have used and experienced all the products and activities recommended on The Smokies. We may receive compensation when you click on links to some products and experiences featured.

2 thoughts on “Anakeesta vs SkyPark: Which Attraction Is Better? (2023)”

  1. I love Anakeesta better, so much more to do and it’s nice to have a choice to get to the top of the mountain. The problem with sky park you only have one way and I don’t know why they cannot have a Ridge rambler like Anakeesta because there is a roadway that goes right behind the sky park that I have driven by many times to get to our cabins.

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  2. Normally I do not read article on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thanks, quite great post.

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