Gatlinburg is a city of tradition. Today, many parents introduce their kids to the same exciting experiences they enjoyed during their formative years. Such is the case with the Gatlinburg SkyLift, which has delighted generations of visitors.
SkyLift Information & History
Opened to the public in 1954, the original attraction consisted of a Sugar Bowl Ski Area lift that was carefully dismantled and transported to a Studebaker dealership in Michigan for rebuilding. It took some effort to bring the final product to Gatlinburg, but the project ultimately proved a success. As the first chairlift in the Dixie region, it attracted its fair share of attention when it opened — and it continues to do so today.
The Gatlinburg Sky Lift, which initially opened in the 1950s, is one of the oldest continuously operated attractions in the Smoky Mountains. The popular attraction is located directly across the street from Ripley’s Believe It or Not in downtown Gatlinburg. In May of 2019 the new version of this vintage attraction opened. Now, the combination of the SkyLift, SkyBridge, and SkyDeck provides visitors with panoramic views of the surrounding Smoky Mountain and the quaint town of Gatlinburg below. SkyLift Park has clearly earned its reputation of the number one scenic overlook in Gatlinburg.
The long history of the SkyLift is immediately evident to all those who visit it today — but so is the clear commitment to bringing a delightful experience to new generations. The attraction has entered a new era, bringing even more opportunities to locals and tourists.
The park’s latest developments warrant return trips, even among those who have enjoyed the chairlift extensively in the past. From an updated lift to a beautiful observation deck, there’s plenty to love about the latest edition of the SkyLift. Perhaps most impressive: a vast pedestrian bridge that offers some of the most awe-inspiring sights in the Smoky Mountains region. Reaching these attractions still requires participating in the time-honored tradition of riding the chairlift, bringing new and old together in the ultimate blend of Gatlinburg fun.
While the SkyLift attracts its fair share of visitors, lines are typically minimal and tend to move fast. Multiple ticket windows are maintained to ensure easy loading. The chairs move continuously, but operators are always on hand to help visitors get on and off the ride. There’s no need to make a reservation; simply stop by when you’re in the mood for a remarkable experience.
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While the Gatlinburg SkyLift technically consists of several attractions, it’s named for this particular lift — and for good reason. A classic Smoky Mountain excursion, the SkyLift is not to be missed. Beginning in the heart of Gatlinburg, this ride sweeps participants up towards the top of Crockett Mountain for a vertical ascension of 500 feet.
While the SkyLift has been around for decades, its current edition was built in 2018. Each chair has three spacious seats and a bar that drops down in front of riders to lend an extra sense of security. While there is no weight limit, visitors are encouraged to take the lift alone or in groups of two when necessary to ensure maximum comfort.
The round trip ride lasts nearly twenty minutes, but most people break up the experience by stopping at the top of the mountain and checking out the other attractions.
The latest addition to the SkyLift lineup, the SkyBridge delivers thrills, scenery, and an unforgettable experience. Spanning 680 feet, the bridge allows pedestrians to explore at their own pace, all while taking in the natural beauty of the Smokies. The bridge reaches a height of 140 feet at its midpoint, granting visitors an excellent view while also offering a surprisingly accessible experience. Glass panels situated periodically provide all-around visibility. If nothing else, the attraction is worth checking out for its claim to fame: North America’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge.
Treat yourself to yet another lovely view of the Smoky Mountains as you relax on the SkyDeck. Added to the park in 2019, this viewing deck offers easy access to the area’s most impressive scenery. Take in the sweeping panorama from the comfort of a patio chair. Nothing complements these vistas quite like the tasty snacks and craft beer available in the cafe. The SkyDeck experience is so relaxing, you’ll be tempted to stick around all day. Once you’ve gotten your fill of spectacular scenery, stop by the gift shop for a keepsake.
Experience the beauty of the Smokies with a fresh set of eyes. Whether you favor the nostalgia of the SkyLift or the leisurely pace of the SkyBridge and SkyDeck, you’ll come away with a whole new appreciation for the area’s breathtaking scenery.
The Gatlinburg Sky Lift is located at 765 Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee at traffic light #7. It is directly across the street from Ripley’s Believe It or Not and within one block of the iconic Gatlinburg Space Needle.
-Many visitors find that one ride on the SkyLift just isn’t enough. The park offers all-day passes, which allow you and your loved ones to enjoy all it has to offer at your own pace. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need to get off and change seats between rides if you plan to take the chairlift multiple times in a row.
-While the views offered from the SkyLift are stunning any time of day, they are uniquely impressive at night. After the sun goes down, Gatlinburg lights up, and, as you depart, you’ll enjoy a charming view of the Parkway’s hustle and bustle.
-Designated parking is not available at the base of the SkyLift. However, two public lots are located within walking distance of the ride’s entrance. Metered parking can also sometimes be found on River Road. The chairlift’s base is accessible from the town’s trolley, which traverses between several main attractions and charges just 50 cents per ride.
-Military and local resident discounts are available for the SkyLift, although riders looking to take advantage of these discounts will need to provide ID or proof of residence.
-Infants and small children are welcome on the SkyLift, but strollers must be left at the attraction’s base in Gatlinburg. Young children should ride on their parent’s lap to ensure safety.