Is Ober Gatlinburg worth the price? An honest review

Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg is one of the area's top destinations for winter activities (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

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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 Gatlinburg in Tennessee is mostly known for its winter attractions.   

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. 

A carousel at Ober Gatlinburg in Tennessee
The inside of Ober Gatlinburg features as enclosed mall with carousel rides, ice skating and more (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

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But as an adult, I’d be lying if I said parts of it didn’t feel outdated.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. 

Read Also: Anakeesta vs. Ober Gatlinburg: Which attraction is better?

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 ride the Ober Gatlinburg?

You may have noticed one of the attraction’s iconic features, the Aerial Tramway.

At the time of this writing, a ticket to ride the tramway is $19 for adults and $16 for children 5-11. Prices may increase during holiday periods.

You can save a couple of dollars when you buy in advance and book through Tripster.

If you prefer to drive up the mountain instead, you do not have to ride the tramway to get to Ober Gatlinburg, which is a key difference between Ober and Anakeesta.

A scenic chairlift at Ober Gatlinburg
A scenic chairlift also provides scenic views of the mountains (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

How long do you spend at Ober Gatlinburg?

It depends on what you want to do there. It also varies depending on crowd size and time of year.

If you’re riding the Aerial Tramway, it might take more than an hour to get up to the top of the mountain, depending on the crowds. Once you’re there, allow 3-4 hours or so if you want to try out a few activities.

If you only want to drive up, park and look around, you may not need much more than an hour or so. It completely depends on the activities you choose.

This brings us to the activities that Ober Gatlinburg offers. Note that prices listed here may vary by season and are subject to change.

How much does it cost to go to Ober Gatlinburg?

Most of Ober Gatlinburg’s tickets are purchased separately and on-site.

The main things you want to buy in advance are tickets for the Aerial Tramway as well as snow tubing, since snow tubing tickets may sell out.

Overall, 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:

  • The Aerial Tramway ($19-22 per adult, $16-19 per child)
  • Carousel ($4 per person)
  • Ice bumper cars ($10 per person)
  • Ice skating ($10 per person)
  • Scenic chairlift ($10 per person)
  • Wildlife encounter ($10 per adult, $7 per child)

There are also shopping and dining opportunities at Ober Gatlinburg.

The Aerial Tramway at Ober Gatlinburg
The Aerial Tramway at Ober Gatlinburg operates year-round (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Spring activities at Ober Gatlinburg

Open activities in the spring include:

  • Ski mountain coaster ($16 per adult, $12 per child)
  • Alpine slide ($10 per person)
  • Mini golf ($4 per person)
  • Kiddie rides ($4 for all day)
  • Rock wall ($4 per person)
  • Snow tubing (early spring only, $30-35 per person)
Raft ride at Ober Gatlinburg
Raft Rides like the Blue Cyclone open in the summer (photo by Marie Graichen/TheSmokies.com)

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.

A new feature in 2022 that Ober Gatlinburg is offering will be hiking the trails at Ober.

The goal, according to their website, is to provide an introduction to hiking for the whole family that is full of adventure.

The hike will be a 1.5-mile guided hike through the woods surrounding the 60-year-old ski slopes that border the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Open activities in the summer include:

  • Trails at Ober ($20 per person)
  • Amaze’N Maze ($4 per person)
  • Chair swing ($4 per person)
  • Summer tubing ($4 per person)
  • Water raft rides ($4 per person)

Many spring activities are still available in the summer as well.

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.

Best of all, most of Ober Gatlinburg’s attractions (listed above) are open during the fall but be sure to check the website for details as you plan your trip.

Lift at Ober Gatlinburg
The lift at Ober Gatlinburg (photo by Jaclyn Torrente/shutterstock.com)

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
  • Skiing and snowboarding
  • Terrain park

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.

Read Also: Does Ober Gatlinburg have snow? A look at the Ober Gatlinburg snow cam

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!

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 [email protected] for questions or comments.

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4 thoughts on “Is Ober Gatlinburg worth the price? An honest review”

  1. I think Tennessee residents should get a discount because we live here year round. Locals get tired of the same old things. If the state offered discounts to locals we might visit these attractions more often. Florida gives discounts to locals like Disney World and Bush Gardens.

  2. I think the prices are a little steep. I also think that everything should be unlimited with the wrist band purchase.

  3. The wristband purchase should not limit amount of rides. I think people would stay longer and ultimately spend more money on other things there as well as return trips, if they didn’t feel like the cost of rides were so high. This is especially true for families with a lot of kids.

  4. I will never return. Very outdated. Tourist trap. Overrated. Go visit a real mountain. It is a cheap amusement park.

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