5 of the Best Outdoor Adventures in Gatlinburg

There’s perhaps nothing better than getting outdoors and enjoying the fresh air in the Great Smoky Mountains. Although the national parklands never fail to delight, exploring the mountainside is not the only amazing thing to do outdoors in Gatlinburg. To help you find all the best ways to spend the day outside, here’s a look at the top five outdoor adventures in Gatlinburg that you must enjoy at least once while in town.

5 of the Best Outdoor Adventures in Gatlinburg

Anakeesta Mountaintop Adventure Park

576 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
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outdoor adventures in gatlinburg, anakeesta birds-eye view

Well-known as the ultimate spot for outdoor adventures, Anakeesta Mountain Adventure Park offers endless opportunities to play, shop, and eat. For an unmatched view of Gatlinburg and plenty of fun for all ages, you can ride the Chondola, climb the Anavista Observation Tower, conquer the Treeventure Challenge Course, or make your way across the Treetop Skywalk.

Want to take the scenic viewing experience to the next level?  Take a trip across the Dueling Zipline Adventure. At over 2,600 feet long, this zipline lets you cruise through the treetops while traveling at a rapid clip. The Rail Runner Mountain Coaster is just as exciting, too, allowing you to race down the mountainside at 25 MPH.

When you need a break from all the excitement, you can go shopping at the Adventure Outpost, Great Outdoors Trading Company, Catching Fireflies, or The Mercantile. Delicious food is available at several eateries, including The Bar at the Top of the World and Kephart Café.

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park

765 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
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two people on center of glass sky bridge, outdoor adventures in gatlinburg, skylift park

If you’ve always wanted to admire the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains from above, you cannot go wrong with a trip to Gatlinburg SkyLift Park. Located just two minutes from the Gatlinburg Space Needle, this park allows you to go on an open-air chairlift ride up the mountainside. Upon reaching the top, you’ll stand 1,800 feet above sea level, where you can admire the views at your leisure.

For an even better view, you’re welcome to waltz across the 700-foot-long SkyBridge stretching across the valley. If you’re feeling quite daring, go to the center of the bridge and look down. The see-through glass flooring in the center gives you an open view of the valley floor and bragging rights if you can pass the glass.

All that walking will likely leave you feeling famished, so plan to stick around and get something to eat at the SkyCafe. Then, take your selections out onto the SkyDeck to sit around the firepit or tiered waterfall while looking out over the Gatlinburg cityscape.

Smoky Mountain Outdoors Rafting

3299 Hartford Rd, Hartford, TN 37753
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Do you want to go on a truly exhilarating adventure in the Smokies? If so, you’ll want to get in touch with Smoky Mountain Outdoors Rafting. This popular tour company takes daredevils out onto the Pigeon River for hours of paddling fun.

Choose the Lower River Rafting adventure for a chill trip along the river. On this 5.5-hour tour, you’ll go through the river gorge at a leisurely pace, so you can enjoy the beautiful scenery all around. On the 6.5-hour Upper River Rafting adventure, you’ll go at a faster clip as you encounter class 3 and 4 rapids.

If you really want to put your mettle to the test, sign up for the Extreme Upper River Rafting trip. For up to two hours, you’ll take a smaller raft over huge waves, so you can fully experience the river’s true power.

Hillbilly Mini Golf

340 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Mini-golf greenway through a green forest, outdoor adventures in gatlinburg, hillbilly mini golf

For an incredible day of mini golfing fun, set your sights on a trip to Hillbilly Mini Golf. Located 300 feet above the cityscape, this mountainside favorite features two 18-hole mini golf courses to remember. Each one offers many memorable challenges that will have you coming back time and again for another round.

To start your adventure, you’ll take a tram ride up the mountainside. Even if you’re a bit afraid of heights, take a moment to admire the open views of Gatlinburg on your way up. You won’t regret it. The scenery is unbelievably gorgeous and sets the stage for an amazing day of golfing.

Once you get to the top, you’ll have to choose which course to tackle first. After doing that, it’s time to work through each hole while trying to conquer the obstacles with the fewest strokes. If you can manage to do that, you’ll finish with the best score, allowing you to sing your praises wherever your travels take you next.

Ripley’s Bear Mountain Coaster

386 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
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Ripley's Bear Mountain Coaster, outdoor adventures in gatlinburg

Whenever you’d like to go on an unforgettable thrill ride through the Smokies, Ripley’s Bear Mountain Coaster is the way to go, for sure. This coaster ride puts you in charge of the thrills and chills as you follow the track down the mountainside. Before doing that, you’ll have to decide if you’ll ride solo or go on a tandem ride with your partner in crime.

Either way, you’ll get buckled into your cart of choice and then start your descent down the track. The gravity-propelled carts can get going at a rapid clip, but no worries, you’re in control of how fast you go. Just squeeze the brakes if you feel like you’re going too fast, and it’ll slow down on demand.

You don’t have to do that, however, if you prefer to keep going as fast as possible. Just be sure to watch out for any of your fellow thrill-ride enthusiasts blasting down the track in front of you. Upon making it to the end of the track, you can continue on with your day or head back up to the start to go on another ride.

As you make your way through all the best outdoor adventures in Gatlinburg, keep your eyes peeled for other fun things to see, do, and experience. There are endless opportunities for fun and adventure in the Smokies, after all, making it easy to fill the day with excitement. For the ultimate travel experience, leave extra room in your daily itinerary, so you can make pitstops whenever you see something that catches your eye.