5 Extreme Adventures in Gatlinburg

Sure, you can find all kinds of family-friendly adventures in Gatlinburg. Hay rides, waterfall hikes, and days at the arcade are all great options if you’re bringing little ones to the Great Smoky Mountains. But Gatlinburg isn’t just about the kiddos anymore. Nowadays, there are plenty of extreme adventures that will push you to your limits and take your Smoky Mountain vacation to soaring new heights. From challenging mountain climbs to ATV adventures through the valleys, check out these five extreme adventures for your next trip to Gatlinburg.

  1. Raft the upper section of the Big Pigeon River. Fans of the water should make plans to join a rafting trip down the Big Pigeon River with Rafting in the Smokies. And to make your adventure even more extreme, be sure to sign up for the upper section. This section of the Pigeon River contains 12 Class III and three Class IV rapids, making your whitewater experience thrilling and full of fun! A professional river guide will escort you down five miles of rapids with nicknames like Too Late, Razor Blade, and Lost Guide. Anyone eight years or older can join in on this wicked water adventure—no experience necessary. Plan to spend 1 ½ hours on the water during this Smoky Mountain attraction.

  2. Sail through the trees on a Smoky Mountain zipline. Another amazing adventure in store at Rafting in the Smokies is their Zipline Canopy Tour. Get some of the best glimpses of Family Adventure Island, the Pigeon River, and all the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains while riding above them at 60 to 80 feet in the air! This adrenaline-pumping attraction is one of the top-rated adventures in the Smokies, giving you the chance to zipline through a course that’s over a mile long with a total of six ziplines that cross two skybridges. This attraction is suitable for guests five years or older. Again, no experience necessary. Plan for about an hour on the course.

  3. Explore the Smoky Mountain woods on the back of an ATV. If a hike through the woods just isn’t exciting enough for you, then try a spin through the woods with Bluff Mountain Adventures. This extreme attraction gives you the chance to cruise over 6,000 acres of mountainous terrain on a fully automatic, four-wheel-drive ATV. You’ll cross fresh mountain streams and ride up and down the bluffs of the Smokies on the guided tour of your choice, lasting approximately one to two hours. You must be at least 12 years old to operate your own ATV, but they do have Side by Side vehicles for passengers younger than 12.

  4. Soar down the mountain on skis or a snowboard at Ober Gatlinburg. From mid-December to mid-March, depending on the weather, Ober Gatlinburg opens their slopes to all those interested in catching some wind down the Smoky Mountains. You can rent all your equipment at the slopes, whether you plan to ski or snowboard. And if this is a totally new adventure for you, you can also rent jackets, pants, and helmets at Ober Gatlinburg (although limited quantities are available for these). Classes are offered for beginning skiers and snowboarders, giving you a chance to try something new and see the Smoky Mountains in an exciting new way.

  5. Hike all the way to top of a mountain! The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to 800 miles of trails you can check out during your stay in Gatlinburg. A lot of these trails are suitable for kids and beginners, but if you’re wanting to take your Smoky Mountain vacation to the extreme, then try a hike all the way to the top of a mountain, like one of the five trails that take you to the summit of Mt. LeConte. The third highest peak in the national park, Mt. LeConte is the perfect place to get a sweeping view of the Great Smoky Mountains. You can reach the summit from the Alum Cave Trail, which is the shortest and steepest route to the top. Eleven miles roundtrip, this trail will take a seasoned hiker about eight hours to complete. So be sure to pack snacks, sunscreen, and plenty of water for this extreme Gatlinburg adventure.

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