Located in the South, many people may be surprised to learn that Tennessee does in fact have a ski resort. While not as big as other areas in the United States, skiers and snowboarders in the Volunteer State will still have a chance to get on the slopes. And with green, blue, and black runs, all experience levels will be able to enjoy their time in the snow.
7 Closest Ski Resorts to Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Gatlinburg is well-known as Tennessee’s gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, which also means it’s close to a number of ski resorts located along this part of Appalachia. One is situated in Gatlinburg’s backyard while the others are in nearby North Carolina and West Virginia. Whether they’re 15 minutes or 4 hours away, there are …
Tennessee Ski Areas by City
While Tennessee may only have one ski resort, those situated in the state’s best-known cities will still have access to a handful of other nearby ski resorts. Whether you’re planning a day trip or hoping to spend a couple of days on the slopes, a TN ski trip is a great addition to any winter travel plans. Head to Ober Gatlinburg for some snowy fun in the Great Smoky Mountains!
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Guide to Tennessee’s 1 Ski Resort
Ober Gatlinburg proudly touts itself as Tennessee’s number 1 skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing destination. Although it’s also Tennessee’s only skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing destination, it could certainly hold the mantle of being one of the state’s most entertaining places to visit.
Situated at the top of Mount Harrison, the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area and Amusement Park is a popular hub every season of the year. The downhill ski resort can be accessed by catching a tram in downtown Gatlinburg, then riding more than 2 miles up the mountain. Upon exiting the tram visitors discover a mall area and a plethora of activities like an alpine slide, mountain coaster, ice skating rink, carousel, bumper cars, shopping, and dining.
Ober Gatlinburg’s resort is located at an elevation of 3,208 feet with a 600-foot vertical drop. There are 10 trails and 1 terrain park over 38 skiable acres. A quarter of the runs are green or black and the remaining half is blue. It’s surprising how spread out the runs are considering the ski area’s size, although many are narrow trails carved through trees. The longest run is nearly a mile long.
Tennessee Ski Season
Ski season usually begins in mid-December and lasts until mid-March with a goal to remain open for 90 days each year. Wet and warm weather can wreak havoc on attempts to create snow, so check with the resort in advance to ensure all areas are operating before purchasing tickets.
Tennessee receives more than 50 inches of rain annually and is among the country’s wettest states, but the resort still receives an average of 35 inches of snow each year.
Before the natural snow falls, Ober Gatlinburg relies on its large number of snow machines to create enough powder for a skiing and snowboarding base. The cold nights in Great Smoky Mountains National Park can sometimes make it easier for the ski area to create snow in the winter. Even if the snow is too slushy, there are plenty of other things to do, including a 10-lane tubing park.
“Ober,” meaning “upper” in German, distinguishes itself from the rest of Gatlinburg in name but not by activities. Both elevations are filled with shopping, dining, and entertainment. All of these additional activities, plus the tram ride, can be expensive for some families, so driving to the top of Mount Harrison is an alternative.
The rental shop has everything a skier or snowboarder needs, from basic equipment to bibs and helmets, for 1-day rentals. There is no lodging available at the top of the mountain but plenty of accommodations below in Gatlinburg.
Lessons are mandatory for those experiencing their first time on the slopes. Private and group lessons are an option or a 4-week program for all ages and skills. Starting in mid-January, Thursdays are race night at Ober Gatlinburg.
Skiers and snowboarders can register in advance for each of the 8 weeks of races or can register the same night. The series is open to anyone and prizes are presented to the top performers at the end of the season.
Although Tennessee doesn’t have many downhill skiing choices, fortunately, their only one is a good one. It’s a rare downhill ski area that offers so much fun packed into a small resort.