Ober Gatlinburg is open year-round, but the winter season is when the attraction really shines – white and bright, that is.
If you hope to see snow in the Smoky Mountains, you may know that the weather can be hit or miss.
But, going to Ober Gatlinburg is one guaranteed way you can experience some snowy fun on your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains.
So how do the folks at Ober Gatlinburg manage that when East Tennessee weather is so unpredictable?
Are they making snow at Ober Gatlinburg?
Yes, yes they are.
How Ober makes snow for snow tubing
The formula for snow may seem simple, but sometimes, it takes a bit of magic.
Ober Gatlinburg uses a Snow Magic system for their snow tubing hills.
Snow Magic machines put out an already-frozen “shaved ice” material, which looks and feels just like snow.
Snow Magic only produces snow in limited quantities – but this process is also more controlled, to a degree. (Snow jokes!)
And so, Snow Magic allows Ober to have more control when snow tubing can open for the season, which is why snow tubing is available longer than skiing or snowboarding.
Weeks before snow tubing opens, Snow Magic begins spraying the snow on the hills, piles it up and then spreads it out.
But the process for getting snow across all of the ski slopes is more intricate – and harder to predict.
How Ober makes snow for the ski slopes
For the ski slopes, it takes more than magic.
That’s right, it’s time to bring out the big snow guns.
Ober Gatlinburg says their snowmaking system is one of the largest and most advanced in the world.
It consists of air lines, water lines and electrical lines, all of which run underground to all of the slopes on Ober’s mountain.
Air and water is mixed at the snow gun to produce snow. The nozzle produces tiny water droplets which freeze as they fall through the air.
A protein called Snowmax is used to help freeze the droplets before they hit the ground.
Ober Gatlinburg still needs freezing temperatures to make this process work, so even though it’s machine-made, the folks at Ober are still at the mercy nature.
This is why exact dates for opening season for the ski slopes is hard to predict more than just a couple of days in advance.
But a perk of this type of machine-made snow is that it’s not artificial snow. It’s still, at its core, frozen water droplets.
How much does it cost to go to Ober Gatlinburg?
There are a couple of ways to get up the mountain to visit Ober Gatlinburg. You can take the Aerial Tramway ($17 per ticket), or you can drive up the mountain yourself and pay for parking.
Snow tubing will set you back about $30. Slots fill up early, so make sure to check availability as soon as possible when planning your trip.
Lift tickets for Monday-Friday and non-holidays are $40 for adults and $35 for juniors and seniors.
Saturdays, Sundays and holiday periods will run $70 for adults and $60 for juniors and seniors.
Prices are subject to change by availability, and these prices do not include rentals.
If you are planning to visit on a holiday or weekend, be prepared for longer wait times and plan on getting an early start to your day.
Ober Gatlinburg also offers ice skating, a kids’ play zone and ice bumper cars.
For more information on the winter activities, visit their website. Ober Gatlinburg is located in downtown Gatlinburg.
Have you been to Ober Gatlinburg in the winter? Let us know in the comments!