You Won’t Believe the Massive Expansion Coming Soon to Gatlinburg SkyPark

the new observation deck and the existing skybridge

Gatlinburg SkyPark is about to undergo massive expansion including the addition of a double decker SkyBridge and a new observation deck (renderings courtesy of Gatlinburg SkyPark)

SkyPark officials announce new SkyBridge, viewing area, restaurants and more

With its 70th-anniversary celebration approaching, Gatlinburg SkyPark is preparing for its next 70 years. Having first gone up the mountain nearly 40 years ago, I’ve personally watched and marveled at the competition to be Gatlinburg’s top dog. SkyPark is certainly firmly entrenched in a three-way competition to be Gatlinburg’s premier mountain-top destination.

With Anakeesta growing each year and new investments at Ober Gatlinburg, SkyPark is working to double its experiences. SkyPark officials have outlined the park’s future involves. In addition to the current expansion, that future will include a second SkyBridge allowing visitors to hike high above a Gatlinburg gorge. This expansion will surely solidify the park’s place among the best attractions in the southeast. 

Gatlinburg SkyPark officials have announced new expansions coming to their already growing attraction. The new features include a double-decker SkyBridge, a second SkyTrail, a new deck and viewing area called Clayton’s Landing as well as new restaurants and a new retail store. SkyPark is also celebrating its 70th anniversary and will be hosting a variety of events this summer.

a map of Gatlinburg SkyPark's new footprint
Gatlinburg SkyPark is about to undergo a massive expansion (map courtesy of Gatlinburg SkyPark)

What is Gatlinburg SkyPark?

Now known simply as SkyPark, the attraction began life 70 years ago when Gatlinburg legend Rel Maples read an article about a man with chairlift expertise operating a Michigan skiing area. Maples paid to have a used lift in California dismantled, rebuilt and installed in Gatlinburg. Opening in 1954, the lift – which carries riders 500 vertical feet up Crockett Mountain – was a staple of Gatlinburg vacations for many years. 

Though the lift went through multiple generations, it was destroyed – as were many of the mountaintop facilities – in the wildfires of 2016. Spurred by the opportunity for a fresh start – and possibly challenged by the impending arrival of Anakeesta in September of 2017, SkyPark was rebuilt better and more ambitious than ever. 

Today, in addition to the lift, SkyPark features trails, an observation deck, a retail center and a tower. The big attraction, however, is SkyBridge. The SkyBridge is the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America – stretching more than 700 feet across a deep gorge. The experience is enhanced at the bridge’s highest point by 30 feet of glass in the center of the walkway, giving a unique view of the valley 500 feet below.

Rendering of Major Changes Gatlinburg SkyPark With View
The SkyPark in Gatlinburg has major updates planned for the future including a double-decker SkyBridge and observation deck (rendering courtesy of Gatlinburg SkyPark)

The second SkyBridge

But is that enough? Apparently not. A SkyPark official has confirmed plans for a second SkyBridge spanning the adjacent gorge. Not only will there be a second SkyBridge, but it will be a double-decker bridge. It will begin at Clayton’s Landing and connect to a second ridge to the west. 

The official says the double-decker bridge will include an adventurous element on the lower deck. What’s that adventurous element? We don’t know yet. The official said there will be more announcements about the adventure in the future. 

However, officials did confirm a second SkyTrail, similar to the current trail which wraps around to the second ridge with an art installation of 13 sculptures to educate and delight guests. The far ridge will be accessed via the second bridge, SkyTrail or a 10-person Gondola that will be ridden from the current parking area on River Road in Gatlinburg. The second ridge will include a children’s play area with a splash pad and a full-service restaurant.

private events on the new observation tower
The new expansion will also open up the possibility for private events (rendering courtesy of Gatlinburg SkyPark)

New additions on the horizon

SkyPark’s just-opened hiking trail experience is a 1.5-mile-long trail system that features three scenic trails with unique views. Now, there is further development planned on the ridge on the far side of the current bridge. Clayton’s Landing will include a new deck and viewing area. Clayton’s Landing is named after long-time general manager Clayton Watson. His son, Randy, serves in that capacity now. 

SkyPark's Rendering of Clayton Landing Fire Pits
Clayton’s Landing will be constructed before the second SkyBridge (rendering courtesy of Gatlinburg SkyPark)

The landing will be the future location of Smoky Mountain Smash Burgers. The facility will specialize in smash burgers but also feature “neat items” like elk and a variety of sandwiches. There will also be a shop with adult beverages featuring local craft beer. This is in addition to the larger restaurant that would be built on the ridge beyond the double-decker bridge. The second phase of the expansion on Clayton’s Landing will include a retail store and additional viewing areas with slider chairs and fire pits for the colder months.

In the more immediate future, SkyPark is celebrating its 70th anniversary this summer. Starting in May and running through August, there will be a variety of events on top of Crockett Mountain with giveaways, games and live music. 

Rendering of the Future SkyPark Smash Burger
The SkyPark rendering of the future Smoky Mountain Smash Burgers (rendering courtesy of Gatlinburg SkyPark)

With 70 years in the Gatlinburg attraction game, SkyPark is positioning itself to be among the top attractions in the Smokies and beyond. Not content to rest on its record-setting SkyBridge laurels, park officials are making big plans to span more mountain tops and add more experiences for SkyPark visitors to explore.

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