Is the Gatlinburg SkyLift worth it? An honest review

The Gatlinburg SkyLift

SkyLift Park is one of Gatlinburg's most iconic attractions (SkyLift Park media photo by Marcus Watson)

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The competition for your tourism dollar in Gatlinburg is fierce. 

After all, 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. Founded in 1954, the famous yellow chairs of the SkyLift have been ferrying folks up the mountain for nearly 70 years. 

Did the SkyLift burn in Gatlinburg?

Yes, the Gatlinburg fire in 2016 temporarily destroyed the SkyLift. Then, just as the SkyLift was rising from the ashes, Anakeesta opened, offering a similar experience in an arguably more scenic and upscale location. 

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

The folks at SkyLift answered both challenges admirably. Today, the SkyLift is a lot more than just a ride up, and then back down, Crockett Mountain.

It offers sweeping vistas of Gatlinburg and the mountains beyond.  

The highest point of the bridge is 150 feet off the ground and features glass floor panels (SkyLift Park media photo by Marcus Watson)

Is the SkyLift in Gatlinburg safe?

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

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

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.  

Beyond the ride up the mountain, the highlight of the SkyLift is the SkyBridge, the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America.

The bridge stretches 680 feet across a deep valley. The bridge 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 breath-taking views – especially from the glass floor panels.

Park owners recently doubled the glass panels, giving walkers 30 feet of fear-of-heights terrifying walkway … or excitement, as the SkyBridge’s website underwhelming describes it.

Read Also: Cracking the SkyBridge glass floor isn’t the fastest way to win friends

The SkyLift in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
The round-trip SkyLift ride lasts about 20 minutes, but we recommend breaking up the experience to enjoy everything the park has to offer at the top (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.

What’s at the top of the SkyLift in Gatlinburg?

The park also features a SkyBridge, a SkyDeck, the SkyCenter and – coming soon – a SkyTrail.

The SkyDeck features a large viewing deck, outdoor seating, fire pits and – thankfully has zero scary/exciting glass floor panels. This 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 a selection of frozen beverages and draft beer.

The Gatlinburg SkyCenter is a cool place to enjoy a snack or a beverage while enjoying the views (SkyLift Park media photo by Marcus Watson)

It’s not as extensive as Anakeesta’s dining and drinking options, but it will get the job done. 

Finally the SkyTrail, which is expected to open this fall, will feature a scenic walkway connecting each end of the SkyBridge. This one-third of a mile walkway offers an excellent opportunity for families to stretch their legs and see more of the mountains.

Dogs are also permitted provided owners can get them up safely to the top. At the back of the trail will be The Tower, a steel tower accessed by rope bridges and elevated viewing platforms. 

Read Also: Is the Gatlinburg SkyTrail open? Sneak peek, updated timeline 2021

How much does the SkyLift in Gatlinburg cost?

Ok. So how much?

Honestly, it’s not bad. For adults ages 12 to 64, a ticket is $28.95.

Seniors are $23.95 and kids 4 to 11 are $18.95. Kids 3 and under are free. There are combo options with Ripley’s Believe it or Not! 

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. 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. 

Honesty, I think you can’t go wrong with either one. You’re going to get amazing views.

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

For tickets or more information about SkyLift, visit their website.

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

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at info@thesmokies.com for questions or comments.

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5 thoughts on “Is the Gatlinburg SkyLift worth it? An honest review”

  1. Yes its worth it. Me and my family drove 13 hours to vacation there. We all enjoy the skylift. Also walking the bridge. Once we return back to new york i show all my friends and family the pics of the view on the skylift. They all love them.

  2. I would add that both the Anakeesta and SkyLift rides up and down can be unnerving for people who don’t like heights. There isn’t a lot holding you in beyond a lap bar, and while they are generally safe, they may not feel like it to some passengers. Anakeesta, for its part, now offers other ways up and down.

  3. It’s a little to expensive, but you have to do it once anyway. It’s the only bridge around, so you have to try it.. Anakeesta is great to. Ober Gatlinburg has a great view to, it’s about 18 bucks to ride the tram from town to the main attraction on the side of the mountain, great views up to there, then you can get a ticket to ride the ski lift to the top. Some of the best views of the mountains. A lot of other things to do there to. Probably the best for the money.

  4. I think both places need to lower the price. My family and I were down there in July and did not do alot due to prices at so many places. So with this said. After all the people we saw the weekend we was there. There is no reason to charge people this much. This needs to be an affordable vacation area that everyone can do.

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