There is nothing like soaring above a town in a tram car. Attached to a cable that runs from the middle of town up the mountain is the Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway, one of America’s largest aerial tramways. This landmark attraction has been part of the Gatlinburg skyline since August 5, 1973. Until that point skiers had to visit Ober Gatlinburg via twisting mountain roads, up and down the sides of Mt Harrison. With the addition of the Ober Gatlinburg Tram the cold mountain winters no longer deter skiers and Ober Gatlinburg has flourished ever since. A ride on the Aerial tramway is one of the best ways to see Gatlinburg and one of the most fun ways to get to Ober Gatlinburg itself.
The Ober Gatlinburg Tram’s downtown hub is located on Gatlinburg’s west end. The downtown hub is full of gift shops and information about both the ski resort and the other attractions at Ober Gatlinburg’s mountainside location. The booth for buying tickets is located towards the back of the building. After you get your ticket you walk up the ramp and join the queue that is waiting for the next tram to arrive. During the winter months the wait can be lengthy. Skiers in all of their gear are standing in line eager to pile onto the tram stack up in the queue. During the summer months those wishing to take in the best view of Gatlinburg are eager for that same ride.
And the view of Gatlinburg is spectacular. As you leave the tram hub in Gatlinburg and start ascending the mountain you are treated to the reason for Gatlinburg’s popularity. You get to take in the quaintness of the town. You get to peak at the small mountain town that now wears the trappings of the tourist city. You can see the tops of the buildings and the layout of the city itself. As you ride up the wire to the top of the mountain you are treated to the cabins and chalets that line the mountainside, some only viewable from the tramway or the street they reside on. Gatlinburg takes on a whole different perspective from the bottom of the mountain to your final destination: Ober Gatlinburg itself.
You sit or stand in a tramway gondola. These Ober Gatlinburg Tram cars were replaced in April of 2007. Each car can transport 120 people up the mountain but the new cars provide 15% more viewable glass area. Since the tramway opened the two tram cars have transported more than 18 million people. Many of those visitors have traveled back and forth year after year enjoying the gentle swaying of the gondolas as the climb the mountain. Skiers stay year after year ready to take the slopes after they have ascended the mountain and then looking forward to the light show that is Gatlinburg as they head back down after a full day. The Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway is one of the greatest ways to see Gatlinburg and an experience in and off itself, make sure to make it part of your next trip to the Smokies.