On the evening of Monday, November 28th, the iconic Gatlinburg Sky Lift was substantially damaged by the out-of-control wildfires that crippled our mountain town.
Shortly after the catastrophic wildfire event, the parent company of the Gatlinburg Sky Lift issued the following statement:
“The chairlift’s upper section and upper terminal appear to have experienced significant heat damage, the degree of which is being evaluated. The facilities on the upper viewing deck, including the gift shop, are a total loss. Our street-level building where ticket sales, offices and a maintenance shop are housed stands entirely unharmed, and the lift’s lower terminal was also spared the fire’s fury.”
The fire damage, which included the gift shop, upper viewing deck, and support columns, temporarily closed down the longest continuously operated attraction in the Smoky Mountains. To the dismay of holiday and springtime visitors, the attraction remained closed for nearly six months as the company worked diligently to repair, replace, and upgrade the attraction.
During this time period, the Gatlinburg Sky Lift invested over $1.6 million to install an entirely new chairlift. The construction process took some time due to the engineering, safety factors, and steep terrain. In order to expedite the process and maintain a safe construction environment, the downtown attraction even used aerial (helicopter) construction crews for several tasks!
Today, the attraction has reopened for business! Although disembarkation at the top of Crockett Mountain is not currently allowed due to ongoing construction, the mountaintop deck and observation area are expected to open in the near future. Each of the 88 chairs now holds three passengers (instead of two) and the upgraded machinery will allow for a smoother and quieter operation.
The cost to ride the newly updated Gatlinburg Sky Lift is $12 for adults and $9 for children. Prefer to ride multiple times? Upgrade your ticket to a ride-all-day pass for two-dollars extra.
For the approximately 4,000 people who live in the mountain town of Gatlinburg and the eleven million annual visitors, the grand re-opening of this historical Gatlinburg icon is a welcome site!