Editor’s Note: Ober Gatlinburg’s Aerial Tramway will close temporarily from March 22-May 28, 2021 for construction. Ober Gatlinburg will close from April 26-May 6, 2021 for maintenance.
Ober Gatlinburg is a ski and amusement park area, and it also happens to be is the state’s only ski and snowboard destination.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Ober is mostly known for its winter activities.
However, the theme park also offers a variety of additional activities that make it a year-round tourist destination.
The real question is, is Ober Gatlinburg worth the price? See if it’s right for you in this complete overview of Gatlinburg’s most iconic attraction.
What does Ober Gatlinburg mean?
Ober is a German word meaning “upper” or “top of”, so Ober Gatlinburg translates to “Upper Gatlinburg.”
Claude Anders brought the idea of the Aerial Tramway to the Smokies in 1973 as a way to make it easier for skiers to access the local ski resort.
Two years later, the Anders family purchased the resort, and the tram and resort were merged as one.
Today, Ober Gatlinburg has grown to include other attractions, rides and an enclosed mall.
Is Ober Gatlinburg worth the money?
As with most things, worth is in the eye of the beholder.
Growing up in East Tennessee, I have always thought of Ober Gatlinburg as a staple in the area.
I grew up taking field trips here as a kid. I had one of my first dates here as a teen.
But as an adult, I’d be lying if I said parts of it didn’t feel outdated.
If you compare it to its modern counterpart Anakeesta, its age shows. But if you have young kids, Ober may be the better deal for you.
Here are a few pros and cons:
The pros of Ober Gatlinburg:
- Ober Gatlinburg is full of nostalgia and history
- The Aerial Tramway is unique and offers a wonderful view of the Smokies
- It is a great place to bring the entire family and is very kid-friendly
- There are a lot of activities, attractions and shops to experience
- It’s the only place in Tennessee to ski or snowboard
The cons of Ober Gatlinburg:
- Paying individual prices for everything can get expensive if you’re not careful
- Parts of it feel a bit outdated. It is a resort from the 70s, and it shows
How much does it cost to go to Ober Gatlinburg?
While you can purchase tickets to activities separately, wristbands are also available seasonally for certain ticketed items. As always, restrictions will apply.
For example, wristbands are not being offered during the time of this writing.
Outside of the wristbands, much of what Ober Gatlinburg has to offer is sold individually.
If you have good self-control and wish to only sample a few of the hot spots, Ober can be relatively affordable.
But remember that these à la carte items can add up quickly, in my experience.
Activities that are offered year-round include:
Aerial Tram: A two-mile tram that is one of America’s largest aerial tramways and takes you directly to the park from downtown ($17/adult, $14/child, children under 4 are free) Tip: You can usually find a discounted price online here.
Alpine Slide: These sled-like carts have a push/pull lever to control your speed as you wind down a slide through the mountain ($8 per person).
Carousel: Enjoy a classic and ride all day with one ticket ($4/person).
Ice Bumper Cars: Like regular bumper cars, but cooler (See what we did there?) ($8/person).
Ice Skating: Gets you in the holiday spirit any time of the year ($8/person, includes skates).
Scenic Chairlift: Enjoy the Tennessee views from a chairlift, no skiing required ($8/person).
Ski Mountain Coaster: Start with a 1000-ft, tree-covered ride to the top and then adventure down a 2750-ft slide full of turns, zig-zags and adventure ($16/person, $12/child).
Shopping and Dining: The mall has more than 15 shops and a variety of eateries (free to explore).
Wildlife Encounter: See the local wildlife up close. All of the animals in the exhibit are licensed zoo or rescue animals ($8/adult, $5/child).
If you want to skip the tram, it is possible to drive up the mountain and pay for parking instead.
You may reserve a discounted tram ticket online.
Spring activities at Ober Gatlinburg
Open activities in the spring include:
Amaze’N Maze: This maze offers a prize for those who finish with the best times ($4/person).
Kiddie Rides: This play area for little ones offers car rides, picnic tables and hours of entertainment ($4/person).
Rock Wall: This outdoor, 30-ft rock wall allows for good, friendly competition, allowing five people at a time to race to the top ($4/person).
Snow Tubing: Fly down the mountains in an inner tube and ride back to the top on the “Magic Carpet.” Catch this one in the early spring, as tubing season ends in late March ($30/person, $35/person on weekends and holidays).
Summer activities at Ober Gatlinburg
One of the most exciting features of summer in Ober is summer tubing.
Guests can enjoy the thrill of tubing – without having to bundle up in a mountain of clothes.
Open activities in the summer include:
Chair Swing: This swing lifts you up five feet in the air and can be enjoyable for everyone more than 42 inches tall ($4/person)
Mini Golf: This mini golf course was refurbished in 2018. While it’s small, and simple (pictured above) it’s also very affordable ($4/person)
Summer Tubing: The slippery lanes of this attraction can make riders feel all the joy of snow tubing without the frostbite ($4/person per ride)
Water Raft Rides: Ober has three water raft rides, with Blue Cyclone being the largest ($4/person per ride)
The previously mentioned Amaze’N Maze, Kiddie Rides and Rock Wall are also available in the summer.
Fall activities at Ober Gatlinburg
Fall in Tennessee is one of my favorite sights to behold. The fall colors are simply breathtaking.
It’s also a great time to ride the Aerial Tramway.
Open activities in the fall include the previously-mentioned:
- Amaze’N Maze
- Chair Swing
- Kiddie Rides
- Mini Golf
- Rock Wall
- Snow Tubing (mid/late November)
Winter activities at Ober Gatlinburg
Last but certainly not least, winter is the peak season at Ober Gatlinburg.
Unfortunately, wait times may be at a peak as well, especially on holidays and weekends, so be sure to plan accordingly.
For ski and snowboard beginners, Ober has ski instructors and lessons available for purchase.
Snow tubing is, of course, offered throughout the winter. However, it is especially popular at Ober Gatlinburg, so be sure to reserve your spot online before you go.
Other open activities in the winter include:
Cubbies Snow Zone: This play area for kids is a fun way for small children to play in the snow ($8/child).
Skiing/Snowboarding: Ober offers ten slopes. Prices for ski area depend on time of day and amount of days purchased. See site for details.
Terrain Park: This is a freestyle park for brave, dedicated riders to expand their snowboarding and ski techniques.
Does Ober Gatlinburg have real snow?
Ober Gatlinburg uses a snowmaking system that is one of the largest and most advanced in the world, according to their website.
And at its core, machine-made snow is not artificial snow. It’s frozen water droplets.
Visit their website to learn more about Ober Gatlinburg and view current operating hours.
Do you think Ober Gatlinburg offers a good deal? Let us know in the comments!