The competition for your tourism dollar in Gatlinburg is fierce.
Afterall, 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 – home of the famous Gatlinburg SkyBridge.
Gatlinburg SkyLift Park was 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?
First, let’s address the elephant in the room.
Yes, the Gatlinburg fire in 2016 temporarily destroyed SkyLift Park.
To make matters worse, just as the SkyLift Park was rising from the ashes, Anakeesta opened, offering a similar, and rather competitive, experience in an arguably more scenic and upscale location.
However, the folks at SkyLift answered both challenges admirably.
The SkyLift reopened in 2017 looking more beautiful than ever before, with plans for expansion on the horizon.
Today, the SkyLift is a lot more than just a ride to the top of Crockett Mountain and back down.
It offers panoramic views of the vistas of Gatlinburg and the mountains of the Smokies beyond.
What is there to do at SkyLift Park in Gatlinburg?
There are a variety of attractions at SkyLift Park in Gatlinburg including:
- The SkyLift chair lift
- The famous SkyBridge (a pedestrian bridge)
- Tulip Tower (an observation tower)
- The SkyTrail (a walking path)
- The SkyCenter (a restaurant and gift shop)
- The SkyDeck (an outdoor amphitheater)
The SkyDeck features a large viewing deck, outdoor seating, firepits and thankfully zero scary/exciting glass floor panels – more on this later. The SkyDeck 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 also a selection of frozen beverages and draft beer.
The SkyTrail is an elevated boardwalk where visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll alongside the mountain while interacting with informative signage about the area.
Tulip Tower is a 70′ steel observation tower that’s accessible by rope bridge from the SkyTrail.
And of course, the highlight of SkyLift Park is the Gatlinburg SkyBridge, the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America.
The bridge stretches 680 feet across a deep valley. It 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 breathtaking views – especially from the glass floor panels in the middle of the bridge.
Park owners recently doubled the glass panels from 15 feet to 30 feet in length, giving visitors a more exciting experience than ever before, and giving those who are afraid of heights double the terror.
Did the Gatlinburg SkyBridge crack?
Look, you can’t really go to the SkyBridge without hearing the tale of the great SkyBridge crack of 2020.
So are the rumors true? Did the glass really crack?
Unfortunately, the rumors are true. And the glass really did crack.
However, the tale has become somewhat exaggerated over time. Today, the story is mostly used as a tool to taunt families visiting from out of town and scared of heights as slowly make their way across the bridge 150 feet up in the air.
Because ya know, they needed another reason to be terrified. Isn’t family great?
Here’s the real story.
Guests were way up in the air, minding their own business, taking in views of downtown Gatlinburg when a man attempted what was described as a “baseball-style slide” across one of the glass panels.
Upon impact, it is believed that the keys from his pocket cracked the glass. And also, I imagine, freaked a whole bunch of people out.
But it should be noted that no one was ever in any danger.
There were multiple levels of redundancies that prevented a catastrophe from occurring.
He cracked the upper layer of one of the glass-floor panels on the pedestrian bridge. There were several other layers remaining, and the bridge has been long since repaired.
Is the SkyLift Park safe?
In short, yes, the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is safe. But there may be restrictions for certain individuals.
For example, it’s recommended that infants ride the chair lift in a baby harness or wrap attached to the parent.
Dogs are also allowed as long as they are leashed for the duration of the visit. Owners must also be able to securely hold their dog while riding the lift.
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.
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.
Is there a restaurant at SkyLift Park?
Yes, you can grab a bite to eat on the second floor of the SkyCenter at SkyLift Park.
Although, it’s less of a restaurant and more of a snack bar with incredible views and a spacious seating area.
The menu features basic staples like hot dogs, ice cream and beer. Hey, we all have our own definition of staples, no judging.
How much does the SkyLift in Gatlinburg cost?
Ok. So how much for an admission ticket?
Honestly, it’s not bad.
Ticket pricing, at the time of this writing, is as follows:
|Adult||Seniors (65+)||Juniors (4-11)||Kids Under 3|
|SkyPass 1+ Day Advance||$34.95||$27.95||$20.95||Free|
|SkyPass Same Day||$36.95||$29.95||$22.95||Free|
|Single Visit Ticket||$32.95||$25.95||$18.95||Free|
|Unlimited Visits Ticket||$34.95||$27.95||$20.95||Free|
A SkyPass gets you unlimited visits for the day and allows you to skip the line. SkyPasses are cheaper if purchased at least one day in advance and are only available for purchase online. SkyPasses are really the best way to go because they allow you to save a bit of money and skip the wait. They also give you the opportunity to visit the park in the morning, hit downtown Gatlinburg for lunch, and then head back up to the park to see the lights at dusk.
A Single Visit Ticket is valid for a single visit to the park.
The Unlimited Visits Ticket, like the SkyPass, also gets you unlimited park visits for the day but doesn’t allow you to skip the line. These tickets are only available for purchase at the SkyLift Park ticket window.
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.
Honestly, 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 Gatlinburg SkyLift 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.