Skiing at Ober Gatlinburg

Anna and her sons tell of their experience of skiing at Ober Gatlinburg, USA, TN.

Skiing at Ober Gatlinburg
The Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area

Gatlinburg is a beautiful mountain resort in Sevier County, Tennessee, USA. It is a very popular tourist destination as it is located right next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, not far from the highest peak of the Smokies, called Clingmans Dome. We went to Clingmans Dome many times but also on the other beautiful hikes that can be found in this part of the Smokies, like Chimney Tops, Newfound Gap, Alum Cave just to name a few awesome ones.

To the Observation Tower at Clingmans Dome

From the many attractions of Gatlinburg, in the winter, Ober Gatlinburg is by far our favorite as it houses among other fun things to do on site a ski resort, the only one in the state of Tennessee. Since we love skiing and since it is not far from home we go there as often as we can. Until now, since the beginning of winter, the only time we were able to go there was in January. We hope that by the end of the winter we will be able to go again, at least once but we are keeping ourselves open to the idea that we might not, since the weather and the number of tourists visiting the place could become hindrances during this time of the year.

Going up to the top

Ober Gatlinburg can be accessed by car. Next to the amusement park that can be found there, a parking lot is available for tourists. In the winter when the skiing season is open, visitors have to pay a $10 fee for the parking.

Another way to access Ober Gatlinburg is by the aerial tramway which may prove useful if the access by car is not possible due to icy road or snow. The tram departs regularly from downtown Gatlinburg all the way up to the Amusement Park at Ober Gatlinburg and back starting from 9,40 am (on some days as early as 7,40 am) until 9,00 pm. It is a bit pricey for a family of four like ours, definitely more expensive than going by car, but it is worth taking this scenic ride at least once.

Downtown Gatlinburg 

I love going to Ober Gatlinburg for many reasons. First one is that the area itself is  beautiful, from up the slope you can admire Gatlinburg resort set among the forest covered Smokies, it is a lovely view.

on the ski lift

Another reason is the ski slope itself. For intermediate level skiers like ourselves, the ski resort offers the perfect size slopes. They are not too long, nor too short. We don't have to wait for ages to get to the top and the slope has nice features that keep you on your toes, it never gets boring.

As I mentioned before, Ober Gatlinburg is not just about ski. It is fun to ride the aerial tram up to the Amusement park next to the ski slope. You can eat at the  restaurants, have fun at the skating rink, skating or bumping in the  ice bumper cars, ride their mountain coaster through the forest on the side of the slope. It is a fun place to be with kids.

Holding my nephew's hand

Mihai, 14

My favorite sport is skiing, even though we can only do it once or twice a year and I broke my leg while doing it (more on that later). One of the best places to go skiing in Tennessee is Ober Gatlinburg.

Ober Gatlinburg has ten ski slopes, although when we were there, only five were open because there was not enough snow for all of them. My favorite slope is the Upper and Lower Bear because it was not too hard and not too easy.

The last time we went skiing, two years ago, in Romania, I went home in an ambulance because I wiped out on an ice patch and broke my leg, so I decided that I would be more careful so that did not happen again.

Not a happy skiing day, two years ago

One of the best things to do at Ober Gatlinburg is to first ski slowly down all the slopes you want to use to be able to survey them before going fast (*breaking the speed limit) and maybe pulling off a few stunts.

The Bear Run is one of the most fun slopes at Ober Gatlinburg, but sometimes the top can get very crowded. If you are more advanced, you could try skiing down a steep ridge directly onto the slope without having to wait for everyone else to pass. Another tip: if you are on skis, and you see a bunch of snowboarders on the lift ahead of you, don't break a sweat thinking about how long you will have to wait for them to get started. Because of the weight of the snowboards, people using them have to take one foot off the restraint to balance the weight. This is good news for skiers because they can get on the slope while snowboarders adjust their restraints.

If you are bored on the ski lift up to the high slopes, you can watch other people ski underneath you. Since my brother and I had to do this quite often, we actually developed a tier list for the people we were watching, ranking the beginners at F and the pros at S. We actually saw someone ski down Mogul Ridge (the hardest slope in Ober Gatlinburg), hit a jump at high speeds, and manage to get a clean landing after three seconds of air time.

Mogul Ridge, not too crowded

Skiing at Ober Gatlinburg is:

The icy snow waiting to make a skier slip and wipe out;
The cold wind rushing on my face as I was speeding down the slope:
The bright orange sled in which a Ski Patrol member was carrying away a wounded skier;
The crash of Paul smashing into a fence near the ski lift;
The majestic sight of a skier jumping off the ramp on Mogul Ridge.

I would go again to conquer Mogul Ridge.

Paul, 11

Skiing is my favorite sport/hobby of all time. I find only one problem with it: it cannot be done during summer, autumn, or spring.

When I arrived at the slopes of Ober Gatlinburg, I instantly had a pang of déjà vu since I had been there before. Here I had many good memories of learning how to ski. The easiest slope was my first stop because I wanted to remember how it's done.

One of the slopes named Bear Run was my favorite since it was all about speed. This was very tricky because many of the nearby snowboarders were very reckless and almost crashed into me. The reckless snowboarders turned this peaceful slope into a very dangerous course, but it did not stop me from going on it.  

A lovely day for ski

I would go again so that I could ski on Bear Run once again.

Skiing for me is:

The howling wind blowing past my face
The sound of snow crunching under my skis
The maniacal rumbling of the ski lift.
The green uniforms of ski instructors
The sound of a skier wiping out.