SkyLift Park

Your Questions on the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg, Answered [2023]

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 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 some 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.

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. 

TheSmokies.com

Area Deals and Discounts

Subscribe to our newsletter and we will instantly deliver the best area discounts to your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Please wait...

Thank you for sign up!

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.

The Tulip Tower is a 70-ft. 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.

First person perspective on the glass bridge
The SkyBridge midpoint features 30 feet of glass panels (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

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 scared. 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 something bad from happening.

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.

glass panels on the skybridge
The highest point of the SkyBridge is 150 feet off the ground and 1,800 feet above sea level (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Is 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 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. 

skylift parks chair lift
A round-trip SkyLift chair lift lasts about 20 minutes, but we recommend breaking up the experience by taking a healthy break at the top to enjoy everything the park has to offer (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

How long is the Gatlinburg SkyLift ride?

The round-trip ride lasts 20 minutes.

Most folks break up the experience by spending time at the top of the mountain and checking out everything the park has to offer.

Are the SkyLift and SkyBridge the same?

Not quite. Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is the name of the attraction which houses the SkyLift and SkyBridge. The SkyLift is the chair lift up to the top of the mountain. The SkyBridge is the famously long pedestrian walking bridge.

The SkyBridge is one of the most famous features of this attraction.

the skybridge at night
The main attraction at SkyLift Park is the famous SkyBridge, which lights up at night (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Do you have to take the SkyLift to get to the SkyBridge?

Yes. Guests at SkyLift Park need to take the chair lift to reach access to the attraction, including access to the famous SkyBridge.

Anakeesta, on the other hand, offers a truck to help guests get up to the attraction in addition to the chair lift. So, if you’re worried about the lift, this may play into your decision on which attraction is best for you.

Read Also: Anakeesta vs. SkyLift Park: Which Attraction Is Better?

How long does it take to walk across the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg?

Not very long, but of course, it depends on how much you stop to take photos along the way. On average, it takes about 3-5 minutes if you take a leisurely stroll across the bridge.

the skycenter
The Gatlinburg SkyCenter is a cool place to enjoy a snack or a beverage while enjoying the views from the top of the iconic SkyLift (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

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.

The SkyTrail
The Gatlinburg SkyTrail at SkyLift Park is one of the newer features, opening to the public in 2021 (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

Do you have to pay to walk the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg?

Yes. The SkyBridge is a part of the attraction, so you will need a ticket to walk across the iconic bridge.

How much does it cost to go on the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg?

Ok. So how much for an admission ticket? Honestly, it’s not bad.

Ticket pricing, at the time of this writing, is as follows:

AdultSeniors (65+)Juniors (4-11)Kids Under 3
SkyPass Same Day$36.95$29.95$22.95Free
Single Visit Ticket$32.95$25.95$18.95Free
Unlimited Visits Ticket$34.95$27.95$20.95Free

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.

Remember, prices are subject to change and may vary by season.

photos at the skycenter tell the tale of the gatlinburg fires of 2015
Photos located inside the SkyCenter tell the tale of the Gatlinburg fires of 2016 and their major impact on SkyLift Park (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Did the SkyLift burn in Gatlinburg?

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.

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. 

Read Also: Is Anakeesta Worth It? A Personal Review (With Discount) [2023]

tulip tower
The Tulip Tower observation tower also opened in 2021 (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

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.

However, I will say that 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.

Anakeesta vs. SkyLift Park: Which attraction is better?

Anakeesta vs. SkyLift Park: Which is better? While both attractions offer fun ways to soak in gorgeous views of the Great Smoky Mountains, it can be hard to choose just one.

So let’s compare some of the differences between Anakeesta and SkyLift Park to help you plan your next Gatlinburg vacation:

Anakeesta vs. SkyLift: The similarities

Why are these two attractions often compared to one another? They have a lot in common: They are both located in downtown Gatlinburg and offer breathtaking views of the mountains.

Both have a chairlift. Both offer food, snacks and drinks for guests to enjoy while soaking in mountain views. And let’s be honest, both could offer a solid challenge for a person with a fear of heights.

So how are they different?

Anakeesta Ridge Rambler
The Anakeesta Ridge Rambler boards at the base of the mountain near the parking lot and offers guests an alternative way to get up the mountain (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Anakeesta vs. SkyLift: The heights

Anakeesta may be a less scary option for those with a fear of heights for two main reasons:

a. Getting up the mountain

Let’s start with getting up the mountain. While you can ride a chairlift to get to either attraction, Anakeesta also offers a Ridge Rambler, which is basically a big truck you can ride in lieu of the chair lift.

SkyLift Park offers no such option, and the only way to get up to the park is to take the SkyLift.

b. The SkyBridge 

The Gatlinburg SkyBridge at SkyLift Park is famous, claiming the title for the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in all of North America.

The SkyBridge spans 680 feet with glass floor panels at the center. The midpoint is 140 feet high.

It’s both gorgeous and nerve-wracking, even for those who aren’t entirely fearful of heights.

Read Also: Opinion: Cracking the Gatlinburg SkyBridge glass floor isn’t the fastest way to win friends

Gatlinburg SkyBridge
The Gatlinburg SkyBridge spans 680 feet (Gatlinburg SkyLift Park media photo)

By contrast, Anakeesta offers what they call the longest “tree-based” skywalk in North America. But it’s not to be confused with the SkyBridge behemoth.

I consider the Anakeesta skywalk like a baby version of the SkyBridge. Anakeesta’s skywalk spans in total about 880 feet, but it’s only suspended 50-60 feet in the air.

The winner: It depends. If you want a thrill, you’ll enjoy the SkyBridge at SkyLift Park. If you want to ease into the heights, you may want to start with Anakeesta.

The Treetop Skywalk at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, Tenn is the longest tree-based Skywalk in North America (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)
The Treetop Skywalk at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, Tenn is the longest tree-based Skywalk in North America (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

Anakeesta vs. SkyLift: Which one is cheaper?

At the time of this writing, general admission tickets for Anakeesta are $28.99 for adults, $21.99 for seniors and $19.99 for kids (ages 4-11). But, discounts are available. For instance, you can usually save a couple of bucks when you book on Tripster.

General admission for the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is $28.95 per adult, $18.95 per child (4-11) and $23.95 per senior.

Children under 3 are free at both locations. Both offer group discounts for groups of 20 or more.

SkyLift Park offers $2 military discounts for both military members and immediate family (with military ID). Local residents also receive a $4 discount with proof of residency.

Anakeesta also offers a military discount (10% off), and local discounts for Sevier County residences (20% off). But again, it’s normally cheaper just to book through Tripster. Plus, you’ll save yourself from a long queue at the ticket counter.

Prices may vary by season and are subject to change.

The winner: Anakeesta. We love a good discount.

TreeVenture
The new TreeVenture was part of Anakeesta’s recent multi-million dollar expansion (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

Anakeesta vs. SkyLift: Which has more things to do?

Anakeesta offers plenty of things to do for kids, including the Treehouse Village Adventure, BearVenture, the TreeVenture Challenge Course and even a splash pad for warmer months, all of which are included with the price of admission.

The adults will enjoy the many shopping areas, restaurants, Treetop Skywalk, Memorial Forest Walk, Vista Gardens, and the all-new AnaVista observation tower.

Additionally, Anakeesta also offers a mountain coaster (the Rail Runner) and a dueling zipline for an extra fee. Anakeesta has so much to offer, and they continue to expand and add to the Anakeesta experience.

Read Also: Anakeesta debuts 7 new attractions at the Black Bear Village grand opening

By contrast, SkyLift Park is home of the SkyLift, SkyBridge, SkyDeck, SkyCenter and SkyTrail (coming fall 2021).

The most famous and most thrilling thing to experience at SkyLift is the SkyBridge. Once the guests have conquered that, they usually relax a bit at the SkyCenter and SkyDeck.

The SkyCenter building has a gift shop and snack bar that offers pizza, salads, ice cream and more, with a seating area that overlooks Gatlinburg.

The winner: It’s hard to compete with zip lines, mountain coasters and multiple shops and restaurants. Anakeesta wins in this category.

This brave pup belongs to SkyLift Park's Marketing Director Marcus Watson (photo courtesy of Gatlinburg's SkyLift Park)
This brave pup belongs to SkyLift Park’s Marketing Director Marcus Watson (photo courtesy of Gatlinburg’s SkyLift Park)

Are dogs allowed at Anakeesta or SkyLift Park?

Pets are not allowed at Anakeesta (with the exception of ADA service dogs), but dogs are allowed at SkyLift Park.

If you wish to bring your dog to SkyLift Park, dog owners must adhere to the dog policy, which includes guidelines such as:

  • Dogs must be leashed at all times
  • Dog owners must securely hold their dog on the SkyLift
  • Owners must always accompany the dog and are responsible for the dog’s behavior

Read Also: Top 11 dog-friendly destinations around Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge 

The winner: SkyLift Park

The new Cliff Top restaurant in Black Bear Village serves up elevated American Classics such as gourmet hamburgers (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)
The new Cliff Top restaurant in Black Bear Village serves up elevated American Classics such as gourmet hamburgers (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

Anakeesta vs. SkyLift: Which has better restaurants?

While you can get snacks and pizza at the Gatlinburg SkyCenter at SkyLift Park, Anakeesta has some restaurants that are simply hard to beat.

At Anakeesta, you have many choices, including:

  • Cliff Top (offers modern American cuisine)
  • Smokehouse (offers smoked meats)
  • Kephart Cafe (offers fast meals)
  • Tap House (offers craft beers)
  • Pearl’s Pie in the Sky (offers desserts)
  • Snack Shack (offers sweet treats)

Here’s the caveat: Reservations are usually not accepted, so be sure to plan ahead. Wait times can be long on top of the mountain.

Read Also: A look inside Anakeesta’s brand new restaurant: What’s on the menu?

The winner: Anakeesta wins this round!

Are Anakeesta and SkyLift Park wheelchair accessible?

Anakeesta offers wheelchair-accessible areas, which include the Firefly Village shops, dining pavilions and scenic viewing platforms. Visit their park policies page to learn more.

The Gatlinburg SkyLift Park staff also accommodates disabled individuals on the SkyLift, SkyDeck and lower levels of the SkyCenter. However, the SkyBridge is not wheelchair accessible. Visit their website for more information.

Read Also: Wheelchair accessible things to do in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge: Our top 7

Anakeesta vs SkyLift: Which is better?

In conclusion, if you want to eat your way through a relaxing vacation while gazing at incredible views, you could probably toggle between both attractions and be a very happy camper.

While it’s hard to compete with the variety of things to do at Anakeesta, the famous SkyBridge is just simply a one-of-a-kind experience.

If you have the opportunity to visit both, go for it! But if not, we hope this guide will help you choose between the two attractions.

What’s YOUR opinion on the differences between Anakeesta and SkyLift Park? Let us know in the comments!

Click here to view the web story version of this article.