An incredible variety of trees, amazing mountain vistas and beautiful wildflowers draw millions of visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains each year. While hiking, biking, horseback riding and scenic drives are great ways to enjoy the views, the best way to see all the things the Smokies has to offer is by air. From above, a 360 degree view is unbeatable. At Ober Gatlinburg, the Aerial Tramway gives guests just that. The large, glass windows let in fabulous views and lots of natural light.
Heading from downtown on a regular basis, the Aerial Tramway is one of the largest aerial tramways in America. It features two 120-passenger counterbalanced cable cars that take passengers on a 2.1 mile ride up to the Ober Gatlinburg Resort. Year round, guests of all ages can take in the breathtaking sights of the Smokies. Spring and summer showcase lush green trees and bright flowers, winter provides sparkling icicles and fresh snow, and autumn brings changing leaves in vivid hues of orange, yellow and red. The Aerial Tramway is a fun, safe ride for kids and adults of all ages, and it's a really fabulous way to get to all of Ober Gatlinburg's attractions.
At the end of the ride, guests can try out indoor ice skating, the Wildlife Encounter, skiing and snowboarding in winter, the alpine slide, the Amaze'n Maze, carousel, chair swing and more. There are also lots of great shops and places to grab a bite to eat inside, including LeConte's Deli, the Ober Gatlinburg Restaurant and Lodge, Sidewalk Cafe and the Fudge Shop. No matter what time of year, there is something for everyone to do, see, hear, smell and taste.
For the first ten years of the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort's existence, skiers wound their way to the top of Mt. Harrison by car. Then, in 1972, resort officials began thinking of ways to make the trip safer and more enjoyable. Construction began in September 1972, and on August 5, 1973, the Aerial Tramway was completed and ready for use.
Ober Gatlinburg celebrated the Aerial Tramway's 34th anniversary on August 5, 2007, just a few months after officials announced that old cars would be replaced with new, more modern cars. The $1 million project, which featured high-grade aluminum alloy tram cars and carrier arms, was completed (designed, engineered and constructed) by CWA Constructions in Olten, Switzerland. CWA is the largest manufacturer of gondolas and ropeway cabins in the world. The tram cars were purchased through Doppelmayr CTEC of Salt Lake City, Utah.
The dimensions of the new vehicles are the same as the old, so Ober Gatlinburg was able to use the same loading docks and towers. One major improvement: the new cars have 15% more glass viewing area. The changes were made in phases, with upgrades including new brakes and more advanced computer systems in 2001, and with the new cars in 2007. April 24, 2007, marked the switching of the first new car, and on Saturday, May 5 at 10 am, the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway reopened. Since its opening, the Aerial Tramway has transported about 18 million guests along the beautiful 2.1 mile up to Ober Gatlinburg.