While Gatlinburg is world-renowned for boutiques and being the gateway to the Smoky Mountains, it is also a sportsperson’s paradise! No matter the season, Gatlinburg has ample opportunities for adventure seekers who enjoy the thrill of sports and the great outdoors.
We’ve prepared our list of ten must-see places, so don’t have to fret, but instead, decide which adventure is for you:
Gatlinburg Axe House
Unleash your inner Pioneer by throwing a hatchet at the Gatlinburg Axe House! Anyone ages 4-85 may participate, and all guests must sign a waiver that is also available online. Each group will be assigned a World Axe Throwing League (WATL) coach who will review the safety requirements and techniques for ax throwing. For safety reasons, alcohol is not served or allowed on the premises, but pets are allowed as long as they are supervised. Military and first responders get a discount, and Gatlinburg Axe House can accommodate birthdays and other celebrations.
While the ambiance feels like you have stepped back in time to the 70s, Ober Gatlinburg has year-round activities to appeal to athletes of all calibers. Skiing, tubing, and snowboarding are king at the resort during winter. From spring until fall, guests may enjoy the aerial tramway, wildlife encounter, indoor ice skating, and the thrilling ski mountain coaster. Additionally, guests may climb the rock wall or whiz down the grassy ski slopes on the alpine slide.
The Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) in Gatlinburg is the area’s largest sporting goods store, along with local goods and gifts for those last-minute souvenirs. While shopping, you can cross the second-floor swinging bridge, climb the 25’ wall, or relax beside their fireplace. NOC is also the hub for leading outdoor adventures in the Smoky Mountains. NOC Gatlinburg offers whitewater rafting, mountain biking, and hiking trips for people of all ages and abilities.
This ballpark will undoubtedly attract baseball fans worldwide despite being 45 minutes away from Gatlinburg. As they said in the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” The Tennessee Smokies are a Double-A affiliate for the Chicago Cubs, and their stadium seats 8,000 fans. While visiting, check out their Performance Center, where you can sign up for batting practice, lessons, and other special events. But if you’re interested, you’d better hurry! The team moves closer to Knoxville in 2024 and into a brand-new stadium.
Smoky Mountains Outdoors
If you want to experience the thrill of rafting class III and IV rapids, check out Smoky Mountains Outdoors (SMO). While whitewater rafting is seasonal, SMO offers varying packages on the Pigeon River for thrill seekers of all ages and abilities. If you’re an adrenaline junky, Extreme Upper River Rafting is calling you! You’ll be in a smaller raft that seats three plus your guide, and you’ll bounce, sail, and splash through Class III & IV rapids for the ride of your life. For those looking for something not as adventurous, try the Lower River Rafting package. This trip is in calmer water and ideal for families and groups who’d prefer relaxing floating downstream.
Gatlinburg Golf Course
Minutes from downtown, Gatlinburg Golf Course will challenge experienced golfers, yet it won’t be too difficult for beginners or novices. Open year-round, the 18-hole course has the Great Smoky Mountains as its backdrop and takes advantage of the rugged terrain to create a unique golfing experience. A prime example is hole #12, affectionately called “Sky Hi,” which is 194 yards in length and drops 200 feet from tee to green. Visit their website for more information about rates and tee times.
Rocky Top Sports World
Rocky Top Sports World is an 80-acre sports complex that will appeal to athletes and teams of varying sports. The massive indoor facility has six basketball and twelve volleyball courts, while the five synthetic turf fields will appeal to lacrosse, soccer, football, and ultimate frisbee teams. Rocky Top Sports World has a natural grass field and a championship field with grandstands that seat 1,500. Although designed for teams and not individual use, they accommodate corporate and special events like birthdays.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Straddling the North Carolina and Tennessee ridges is the magnificent Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Within this mountain wonderland are hiking trails, streams teeming with trout for fishing, and miles of roadways for biking. Naturally, there are campsites and cabins to rent when you want to spend more than a few hours in the park. And with the abundance of waterfalls to explore and picnic areas, it’s the ideal day trip for families and adventure seekers. Additionally, sites like Cades Cove offer horseback riding along with carriage and wagon rides, making the Great Smoky Mountains National Park one of the premiere spots to explore while in Gatlinburg.
Hillbilly Golf Gatlinburg
If you love putt-putt and seek a challenge, add Hillbilly Golf Gatlinburg to your “to-do” list! For starters, you ride a tram uphill to reach one of the two 18-hole courses. This means you’ll play mini-golf downhill, making for a fun yet challenging experience! Many players advise bringing extra balls as you’re bound to lose one. The course is littered with countrified artifacts to challenge your putts, like tractors, outhouses, and moonshine barrels. Hillbilly Golf Gatlinburg will have you whistling bluegrass music and playing putt-putt on this mountainside course.
Climb Works Smoky Mountains
Perched on the peaks of the Smoky Mountains, Climb Works offers exhilarating zipline tours that will take your breath away. With treetop launches, you’ll soar over the valleys and take in the fantastic views of the Smokies. The Mountaintop Zipline Tour offers six side-by-side courses, four aerial bridges to traverse, and one platform to rappel. Adding to this exciting tour is the ATV ride up the mountain to start your adventure!
No matter your age or athletic ability and interests, Gatlinburg is a sports and adventure-lovers playground, and we’re confident any one of these destinations will be well worth visiting.