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.
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 the 1950s, the famous yellow chairs of the SkyLift have been ferrying folks up to the top of Crockett 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.
The folks at SkyLift answered both challenges admirably. Today, the SkyLift is a lot more than just a ride to the top of Crockett Mountain and then back down.
It offers panoramic views of the vistas of Gatlinburg and the mountains of the Smokies beyond.
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 Gatlinburg 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 Gatlinburg SkyBridge’s website underwhelming describes it.
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.
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.
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 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.
Honesty, 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.
The 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.