Summertime Fun in a Winter Wonderland
By Bennie McCann © 2010, All Rights Reserved

When you think “Smoky Mountain ski resort,” you think “Ober Gatlinburg” – and rightly so. But there's more to this mountain than snow and hot chocolate. Once the ski season ends, this versatile vacation destination is home to many warm-weather activities, including the famous aerial tramway. From arcade fun to gorgeous scenery to an old-fashioned carousel, Ober Gatlinburg has plenty to offer summer travelers.

Getting there is Half the Fun

The best way to arrive at Ober Gatlinburg is by air – or at least by aerial tram. The resort features two 120-passenger trams – some of the largest you'll find anywhere – that ferry visitors from downtown Gatlinburg to the top of the mountain. Not only is tram travel more convenient than driving, you'll also enjoy the stunning vistas as you glide above the trees.

Once you arrive at Ober Gatlinburg, board the scenic chairlift for a more intimate view of the mountainside. The longest chair lift in the South offers a relaxing climb through the forest and abundant photo opportunities. The view from the top is simply amazing, but there's lots to do back at the resort, so be sure to leave enough time to sample all the fun spots.

Getting back down the mountain is a rip-roaring adventure for the whole family. Ober Gatlinburg's Alpine Slide takes you on a twisting, turning path through the woods and along the ski trails. Special sleds allow you to control your speed, so your ride will be as thrilling or serene as you choose.

Indoor Fun and Games

If you just can't get enough of winter, Ober Gatlinburg is happy to accommodate. A grand indoor ice arena provides hours of skating fun for everyone. Skate rentals are available, so don't worry about packing your winter gear. Just be prepared for some off-season enjoyment in the comfort of Ober Gatlinburg's enclosed mall.

Besides the ice rink, the amusement park is filled with games and fun for everyone. Young and old alike will enjoy a ride on the newest attraction: an old-fashioned carousel where calliope music and flashing lights take you back to a simpler time. Challenge the kids to a game of Skee-ball, or let them teach you a thing or two about video games on one of the high-resolution screens. Grab a snack or a meal in Ober Gatlinburg's restaurant, before heading outdoors again to meet the locals.

Entertainment and Education at Wildlife Encounter

Black bears, otters, raccoons, skunks and more inhabit the mountains surrounding Ober Gatlinburg. Get an up-close look at these and other local animals in Wildlife Encounter. You'll meet the night-owls of the area in the new nocturnal house, and watch the playful river otters from an underwater viewing area. A curator is always available to answer your questions about the species native to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Any time of year is the right time to visit Ober Gatlinburg. Everyone in the family will find something to love about the area. From spectacular mountaintop views to thrilling rides to old-fashioned arcade games, you'll have wonderful memories of the summer you spent at a ski resort. Leave your winter clothes behind and head to the Great Smoky Mountains for a warm-weather vacation you'll never forget.

Bennie McCann is Reservations Manager of Volunteer Cabin Rentals specializing in Pigeon Forge cabins. Visit the main website to book cabins for weddings, vacations, reunions and other special events.