Gatlinburg

SkyBridge Gatlinburg: Is it worth it? An honest review [2022]

The competition for your tourism dollar in Gatlinburg is fierce. 

Afterall, there are only so many tourists with so many dollars. The pie is large, but the pie is not infinite. 

And so there’s a mental calculus (or maybe it’s algebra. I was never good at math) for budgeting a trip. 

Is X worth Y percentage of our budget?

The answer of course is subjective. For some, no price would be too high to enjoy the Ripley’s Museum or a trip up the mountain to Anakeesta. Others feel ripped off unless they have a Groupon and two discount coupons to do anything. 

Read Also: Best Groupons in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg: Beyond the Lens and more

Add in the bevy of new and growing attractions, and every destination in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge remains in some varying state of evaluation.

One week, you’re king of the hill. Then, after a competitor opens down the block, you’re sus, as the kids would say. 

This brings us to Gatlinburg’s SkyLift Park – home of the famous Gatlinburg SkyBridge.

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park was founded in the 1950s, the famous yellow chairs of the SkyLift have been ferrying folks up to the top of Crockett Mountain for nearly 70 years. 

photos at the skycenter tell the tale of the gatlinburg fires of 2015
Photos located inside the SkyCenter tell the tale of the Gatlinburg fires of 2016 and their major impact on SkyLift Park (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Did the SkyLift burn in Gatlinburg?

First, let’s address the elephant in the room.

Yes, the Gatlinburg fire in 2016 temporarily destroyed SkyLift Park.

To make matters worse, just as the SkyLift Park was rising from the ashes, Anakeesta opened, offering a similar, and rather competitive, experience in an arguably more scenic and upscale location.

Read Also: Is Anakeesta worth the money? An honest review

However, the folks at SkyLift answered both challenges admirably.

The SkyLift reopened in 2017 looking more beautiful than ever before, with plans for expansion on the horizon.

Today, the SkyLift is a lot more than just a ride to the top of Crockett Mountain and back down.

It offers panoramic views of the vistas of Gatlinburg and the mountains of the Smokies beyond.  

the skybridge at night
The main attraction at SkyLift Park is the famous SkyBridge, which lights up at night (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

What is there to do at SkyLift Park in Gatlinburg?

There are a variety of attractions at SkyLift Park in Gatlinburg including:

  • The SkyLift chair lift
  • The famous SkyBridge (a pedestrian bridge)
  • Tulip Tower (an observation tower)
  • The SkyTrail (a walking path)
  • The SkyCenter (a restaurant and gift shop)
  • The SkyDeck (an outdoor amphitheater)

The SkyDeck features a large viewing deck, outdoor seating, firepits and thankfully zero scary/exciting glass floor panels – more on this later. The SkyDeck is an excellent place to chill out and soak in the view. 

The SkyCenter offers a place to get out of the elements and nosh on a light menu of pizza, wraps, hot dogs and more. There’s also a selection of frozen beverages and draft beer.

The SkyTrail is an elevated boardwalk where visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll alongside the mountain while interacting with informative signage about the area.

Tulip Tower is a 70′ steel observation tower that’s accessible by rope bridge from the SkyTrail.

And of course, the highlight of SkyLift Park is the Gatlinburg SkyBridge, the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America.

The bridge stretches 680 feet across a deep valley. It is comfortable for walking with room for a leisurely stroll and for those who move at a brisker pace.

At its highest point, the bridge is 150 feet off the ground. The bridge offers breathtaking views – especially from the glass floor panels in the middle of the bridge.

Park owners recently doubled the glass panels from 15 feet to 30 feet in length, giving visitors a more exciting experience than ever before, and giving those who are afraid of heights double the terror.

First person perspective on the glass bridge
The SkyBridge midpoint features 30 feet of glass panels (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Did the Gatlinburg SkyBridge crack?

Look, you can’t really go to the SkyBridge without hearing the tale of the great SkyBridge crack of 2020.

So are the rumors true? Did the glass really crack?

Unfortunately, the rumors are true. And the glass really did crack.

However, the tale has become somewhat exaggerated over time. Today, the story is mostly used as a tool to taunt families visiting from out of town and scared of heights as slowly make their way across the bridge 150 feet up in the air.

Because ya know, they needed another reason to be terrified. Isn’t family great?

Here’s the real story.

Guests were way up in the air, minding their own business, taking in views of downtown Gatlinburg when a man attempted what was described as a “baseball-style slide” across one of the glass panels.

Upon impact, it is believed that the keys from his pocket cracked the glass. And also, I imagine, freaked a whole bunch of people out.

But it should be noted that no one was ever in any danger.

There were multiple levels of redundancies that prevented a catastrophe from occurring.

He cracked the upper layer of one of the glass-floor panels on the pedestrian bridge. There were several other layers remaining, and the bridge has been long since repaired.

glass panels on the skybridge
The highest point of the SkyBridge is 150 feet off the ground and 1,800 feet above sea level (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Is the SkyLift Park safe?

In short, yes, the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is safe. But there may be restrictions for certain individuals.

For example, it’s recommended that infants ride the chair lift in a baby harness or wrap attached to the parent. 

Dogs are also allowed as long as they are leashed for the duration of the visit. Owners must also be able to securely hold their dog while riding the lift.

The chairs can fit up to three individuals, but guests are welcome to ride one or two per chair if preferred. Operators will make sure you get in the chair comfortably.  

skylift parks chair lift
A round-trip SkyLift chair lift lasts about 20 minutes, but we recommend breaking up the experience by taking a healthy break at the top to enjoy everything the park has to offer (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

How long is the Gatlinburg SkyLift ride?

The round-trip ride lasts 20 minutes.

Most folks break up the experience, spending time at the top of the mountain and checking out everything the park has to offer.

the skycenter
The Gatlinburg SkyCenter is a cool place to enjoy a snack or a beverage while enjoying the views from the top of the iconic SkyLift (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Is there a restaurant at SkyLift Park?

Yes, you can grab a bite to eat on the second floor of the SkyCenter at SkyLift Park.

Although, it’s less of a restaurant and more of a snack bar with incredible views and a spacious seating area.

The menu features basic staples like hot dogs, ice cream and beer. Hey, we all have our own definition of staples, no judging.

The SkyTrail
The Gatlinburg SkyTrail at SkyLift Park opened to the public in 2021 (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

How much does the SkyLift in Gatlinburg cost?

Ok. So how much for an admission ticket?

Honestly, it’s not bad.

Ticket pricing, at the time of this writing, is as follows:

AdultSeniors (65+)Juniors (4-11)Kids Under 3
SkyPass 1+ Day Advance$34.95$27.95$20.95Free
SkyPass Same Day$36.95$29.95$22.95Free
Single Visit Ticket$32.95$25.95$18.95Free
Unlimited Visits Ticket$34.95$27.95$20.95Free

A SkyPass gets you unlimited visits for the day and allows you to skip the line. SkyPasses are cheaper if purchased at least one day in advance and are only available for purchase online. SkyPasses are really the best way to go because they allow you to save a bit of money and skip the wait. They also give you the opportunity to visit the park in the morning, hit downtown Gatlinburg for lunch, and then head back up to the park to see the lights at dusk.

A Single Visit Ticket is valid for a single visit to the park.

The Unlimited Visits Ticket, like the SkyPass, also gets you unlimited park visits for the day but doesn’t allow you to skip the line. These tickets are only available for purchase at the SkyLift Park ticket window.

tulip tower
The Tulip Tower observation tower also opened in 2021 (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

Is the Gatlinburg SkyLift worth it?

I think, unquestionably, SkyLift Park is worth it.

Anytime you can enjoy a Gatlinburg landmark, I think it’s worth it.

Plus, they’ve added a lot of value to the price of your admission. I suppose the question is whether you choose SkyLift or Anakeesta.

Personally, I prefer Anakeesta’s views of the Smokies. I like to be able to look out over the mountains without seeing the town. Anakeesta gives you both a great view of the mountains and of the town. 

However, I will say, your ticket up the mountain at Anakeesta is really just a starting point. I feel like you’re ultimately likely to spend a lot more money on a trip to Anakeesta than the SkyLift. 

The SkyLift does have the glass-bottomed bridge – a major selling point that Anakeesta can’t match. 

Honestly, I think you can’t go wrong with either one. You’re going to get amazing views and enjoy more of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park area.

Read Also: Anakeesta vs. SkyLift Park: Which attraction is better?

The Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is located at 765 Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg. For tickets or more information about SkyLift, visit their website.

Have you visited the Gatlinburg SkyLift? Tell us what you think in the comments.

The Greenbrier Gatlinburg: The best and most haunted restaurant in town

When you grow up on the outskirts of the Great Smoky Mountains, sometimes you miss some obvious stuff.

It’s like the tale of the fish who asks another fish, “How’s the water?” and the fish responds, “What water?”

For years, I’ve been that other fish.

I’ve overlooked one of the most popular restaurants in the Smokies: The Greenbrier restaurant.

The Greenbrier is a favorite among locals.

You’ll notice that it’s not really heavily advertised. Also, it’s not right along any main roads, either. You have to be looking for it to really know that it’s there.

It’s worth noting that this establishment is a higher-end restaurant for the Gatlinburg area, which is likely why my parents never took me there as a kid. It’s also why it took me so long to take myself as an adult.

However, I’m now convinced that it might just be the best restaurant in Gatlinburg.

Read Also: Who has the best steak in Gatlinburg? Here’s our top 5

Is The Greenbrier worth it?

In short, yes, it’s worth it. It has amazing food, and it’s also rich in history.

The Greenbrier restaurant in Gatlinburg is a food and spirit outpost. In the 1930s, it was a mountain lodge that hunters, loggers and hikers frequented.

Today, it’s said to be one of the most haunted places in Gatlinburg … more on that later.

The lodge was eventually converted to a restaurant, where it currently serves high-quality food with Appalachian tradition.

The restaurant itself is beautiful. It would be a great spot for a romantic date night.

It’s also home to the Greenbrier Whiskey Society, meaning there’s a wide selection of bourbon, whiskey and spirits to taste. They also have bottled and draft beer.

The menu is updated periodically by the restaurant’s chef. If you have a favorite item, it’s possible that it may only be available for a limited amount of time.

On our visit, I ordered the salmon, my sister had trout and my brother-in-law got the filet of beef.

Y’all, it was some of the best food I’ve ever had in the Smokies.

The fish was flavorful and juicy.

And the steak? The steak was cooked beautifully. Melt-in-your-mouth perfection.

We were too full for dessert, but I think that means we’ll have to make another trip soon.

Drinks at The Greenbrier Restaurant
From left to right are handcrafted craft cocktails: The Lydia, which is named after the Greenbrier’s spirit, the Volstead and the Crockett (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

The Greenbrier in Gatlinburg menu prices

Are the prices at The Greenbrier high? Perhaps a little for East Tennessee.

The main dishes range from $28-43. Steaks, bone-in ribeye and pork chops range from $29-54. It’s not the kind of place where you can decide to order a sandwich with water to keep the bill low.

That being said, the food is high quality. The prices, in my opinion, are well justified.

To view the full menu with prices, click here.

What to order at The Greenbrier restaurant

The Greenbrier is Gatlinburg’s premier steakhouse, so it offers some of the highest quality food and an unparalleled dining experience.

They use only fresh produce and fresh vegetables and the finest cut of meats.

The house specialties change because they are unique chef creations.

For the appetizers, they currently offer selections like the Baked Spinach Dip, Cheese Board and Crispy Brussel Sprouts. If you want to get out of your comfort zone, try the Duck Confit Egg Rolls.

For the main course, consider the Joyce Farms Natural Chicken, a hickory smoked half chicken with cornbread dressing, haricot vert and a mustard-whiskey glaze.

For the Filet of Beef, which we think is perhaps the best in Gatlinburg, you can select a petite 7 oz. or upgrade to a 10 oz. Oscar-lump crab cake with bearnaise is also an available add-on.

My favorite is the Salmon, which has a crispy skin and now comes with roasted beets and carrots and a miso broth.

I loved every bite of my salmon, which was broiled perfectly.

Side dishes include a variety of items including pommes frites, a twice-baked potato or smoked cheddar grits.

Entrees come with a choice of soups or house salad with a selection of homemade salad dressings and crisp salad greens.

Salmon at The Greenbrier restaurant in Gatlinburg
My salmon at The Greenbrier featured a broiled crispy skin and citrus beurre blanc foam (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

Is The Greenbrier restaurant in Gatlinburg haunted?

If you’re into Tennessee folklore, you’ll probably enjoy a visit to The Greenbrier restaurant.

Legend has it that a young bride-to-be named Lydia hung herself from the rafters of the old lodge after being left at the altar.

The man who left her was said to be found within days following Lydia’s passing. He appeared to have been mauled by a mountain lion.

Some believe that Lydia’s spirit took revenge on him. Some even believe that she took the form of the mountain lion to do so.

If that’s the case, I suppose she returned to her human-like form when she came back to haunt the lodge-turned-restaurant.

The Murfreesboro Post provides the most detail on the legend. Some workers have noticed “food items being knocked off shelves” in the pantry.

Some diners have reported seeing the spirit as a “small, sad figure” lingering along the stairway, or around the upper floor landing.

Additionally, some employees claim to feel her “chilling presence”.

Interior of the Greenbrier Restaurant in Gatlinburg
The Greenbrier has an exceptional atmosphere, although some say it is haunted. Do you see any mysterious figures in this photo? Lydia’s spirit is said to be occasionally spotted near the stairway (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Ghost hunters at The Greenbrier restaurant

I can’t say that my family or I saw Lydia when we were there. However, there was something chilling about looking up toward the second floor.

Despite the alleged revenge on her ex, some reports say that Lydia is a “friendly ghost”. Some even speculate that she doesn’t know she has perished.

Ghost hunters once visited The Greenbrier restaurant to investigate.

The East Tennessee Paranormal Research Society found photographic anomalies and “cheeky responses” to questions via Electronic Voice Phenomena, or EVP.

The restaurant acknowledges the spirit by naming menu items after her. For example, the “Lydia” martini has vodka, freshly squeezed lemon and house-made lavender simple syrup.

Furthermore, she even has her own cellar reserves.

Read Also: 6 ghost stories from Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg

Cut steak at The Greenbrier restaurant in Gatlinburg
The Greenbrier has hand-cut prime steaks that are cooked to perfection (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Does The Greenbrier restaurant take reservations?

Yes, visitors can reserve a table online here.

The Greenbrier is a popular restaurant. You might be able to find a spot at the bar seating area if you’re lucky. Still, I recommend you reserve a table in advance.

Read Also: What is the best seafood restaurant in Pigeon Forge?

Plan your trip to The Greenbrier restaurant

The Greenbrier is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 4:30-9 pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 4:30-10 pm. On Sundays, it is open from 10 am-2 pm for brunch.

It’s closed on Mondays. Remember, hours may vary by season.

The Greenbrier is located at 370 Newman Road in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Have you been to The Greenbrier restaurant? Have you seen Lydia? Let us know in the comments!

View the web story version of this article here.