Did you know you can go skiing in Tennessee? Tucked in the Smoky Mountains, Ober Gatlinburg is the premier skiing, snowboarding, and snowtubing destination of the south. Each year, the attraction and ski area welcomes thousands of winter sports pros, fans, and beginners.
Before you head out to the slopes, there are a few things you need to know about going skiing or snowboarding at Ober Gatlinburg.
When Can I Ski?
To ensure that skiers and snowboarders have ample snow to enjoy, Ober Gatlinburg pumps an extraordinary amount of machine-made snow onto the slopes each winter. This process typically begins around early to mid-December, depending on the state of Tennessee’s fluctuating winter temperatures. With the machine-made snow, Ober Gatlinburg is usually open from mid-December to mid-March. However, the length of the season all depends on Mother Nature.
Since the park does not have a specific opening date each year, follow their social media channels to find out when you can start skiing.
About the Slopes
At Ober Gatlinburg, you’ll find 10 ski trails of varying difficulty serviced by two quad and one double chairlift. The setup of the ski lifts is designed to maximize your time on the slopes, rather than keep you waiting in line for a lift. The base elevation of the mountain is 2,700 feet while the elevation of the summit is 3,300 feet. The mountain also offers a 600-foot vertical drop for the daredevils!
Ober Gatlinburg also boasts a terrain park for skiers and snowboarders who’d like to test out their skills on a half pipe, rails, and other elements.
Skiing at Ober Gatlinburg: Know Before You Go
As with any ski resort or park, Ober Gatlinburg has a few rules each skier and snowboarder must follow prior to hitting the slopes.
Buy a Ski Area Ticket
The first step to skiing in Tennessee is securing your Ski Area Ticket. Ober Gatlinburg’s ski tickets vary in price by age, time of day, and day of the week. If you’re an avid skier or snowboarder, you can also purchase a multi-day pass to make the most out of your time in the Smoky Mountains during the winter.
All Ski Area Tickets are valid for one session of skiing or snowboarding and include unlimited use of the slopes during your session. If you or anyone you are traveling with is under the age of 18, a minor liability form must be signed. To save time and hit the slopes as fast as possible, print and sign your waiver beforehand.
Rent Your Ski Equipment
If you plan on skiing in Tennessee and are visiting from far away, chances are you won’t bring your own ski equipment. Ober Gatlinburg provides affordable rental equipment including:
- Ski Poles
- Ski and Snowboard Boots
Similar to Ski Area Tickets, rental equipment prices vary by time of day. You can rent equipment for a full day, twilight, or nighttime session.
In addition, a limited number of helmets, jackets, and pants are available for rent. However, it is in your best interest to bring these yourself as they run out almost immediately.
Your rental equipment must be returned by the end of your session or you will be charged for the next day as well. To rent snowboard equipment, you must either use a major credit card or a $300 cash deposit. All rental equipment is available on a first come, first served basis, so arrive at the slopes early!
New Skiers and Snowboarders Must Take Lessons
If this is your first time skiing or snowboarding, Ober Gatlinburg requires that you purchase and complete a lesson prior to going out on the slopes. This rule is in place for your safety and security of all skiers, snowboarders, and visitors.
During your lesson, you’ll learn the proper techniques for skiing and snowboarding, including how to stop short if needed. Your instructor will teach you how to properly use the equipment, the right skiing and snowboarding techniques, and safety instructions. It is imperative that you listen to and follow everything your instructor says.
If you are skiing in Tennessee with children, you can sign them up for a children’s ski class as well. For those who are a bit nervous about skiing, you can also arrange a private lesson with Ober Gatlinburg’s instructors for a one-on-one experience.
Once you’ve completed your lesson, you’re free to shred the slopes!
What to Wear When Skiing in Tennessee
While Tennessee may not have the arctic temperatures of slopes up North, it does get quite chilly. With this in mind, it is best to dress in layers. Depending on the day, it could be colder or warmer than normal, and layers give you the ability to adjust accordingly. Most skiers wear:
- An Underlayer (tights, long underwear, turtleneck shirt)
- A Pair of Socks
- Snow Pants
- Snow Jacket
Remember, you have to attach your lift ticket to your jacket, so be sure it has a place to securely attach is such as a zipper pull.
Visiting Ober Gatlinburg
While skiing in Tennessee is quite the thrill, Ober Gatlinburg also hosts other activities and attractions including:
- Ice Skating
- Snow Tubing
- Wildlife Encounters
- Ski Mountain Coaster
- Kiddie Activities
- Scenic Chairlift Rides
Tickets for these activities can be purchased inside once you reach the Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area.
To access the mountain, you can purchase a ticket for the Aerial Tramway at the Aerial Tramway Mall. While on the tramway, take in the scenic views—they’re unbelievable! Or, you can drive up to the mountain located at 1339 Ski Mountain Road, Gatlinburg, TN. If you have the time, I recommend taking the Aerial Tramway, especially if it’s your first time visiting the Smoky Mountains.
Do note that parking for Ober Gatlinburg is $5.00 cash or $7.00 for over-sized vehicles if you use their Aerial Tramway Mall or Ski Mountain parking lots.
No matter if you’re a novice or a pro, skiing in Tennessee at Ober Gatlinburg is a winter “must” for every traveler.