Ready for something completely different next time you visit the Smokies? Check out these three fresh, fun-filled family attractions.
What's it like to bike through the treetops? Find out at ClimbWorks (155 Branam Hollow Road, Gatlinburg). This popular destination is home to The Curliest, an elevated wooden mountain-bike trail in the heart of the El Regis loop.
As it winds through lush, leafy forest, high above a sparkling stream, The Curliest climbs, dips, and curves, much like a rollercoaster track. All along the way, you'll enjoy heart-pounding thrills and breathtaking birds-eye scenery.
Never mountain biked before? No worries. The Curliest accommodates all ability levels, from novice to expert. Plus, ClimbWorks guides offer full instructions, along with free bottled water.
You can bike as fast or slow as you want, as many times as you wish, throughout your three-hour session. You don't even have to bring your own bike (although you certainly can if you like). ClimbWorks offers full-suspension rental bikes – plus helmets and other gear – all tested and inspected for safety and performance. You can even rent youth bikes for children 12 and older.
ClimbWorks is open daily except Sundays. Reservations are required.
Have you heard about zorbing? It's the latest outdoor family adventure. You do a "Superman" dive into a big plastic ball called an OGO (Outdoor Gravity Orb). Then you roll down a long hillside, spinning and laughing all the way.
Sound like a blast? It is. And fortunately there's a state-of-the-art zorbing site right here in the Tennessee Smokies: Outdoor Gravity Park (203 Sugar Hollow Road, Pigeon Forge).
Open daily from 12 to 4 p.m., this 17-acre playground features five different OGO trails – two straightaways, three zigzag routes. Plus, it gives you the choice of two kinds of zorbing: wet or dry. (The dry version is available only during fall and winter.)
When you wet-zorb, you ride in the H20GO, a giant, transparent OGO filled with 10 gallons of warm, clean water. As you roll down the steep 1,000-foot hill, you'll slip and slide – yet never tumble – and get wonderfully wet in the process. (The park recommends that you wear a swimsuit and bring along a change of clothes.)
When you dry-zorb, you ride in the DRYGO – three clear plastic spheres, one inside the other. You'll roll, spin, and whirl – without tumbling – and stay dry throughout your descent.
Both H20GO and DRYGO orbs accommodate up to three people, ages 6 and up. (Five-year-olds may ride if accompanied by an adult.)
Do you miss your feline furbabies when you're away on vacation? Visit the Smoky Mountain Cat House at 3327 Old Mill Street, Pigeon Forge. Here you can relax with other cat fans, pet the resident cat, and shop for all kinds of cat-themed goodies – jewelry, clothing, housewares, decor, accessories – plus special toys and catnip for your own precious kitty.
The Cat House is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the tourist season, with slightly shorter hours during the winter.
All this wild and wonderful weirdness awaits you here in the Tennessee Smokies. Contact Volunteer Cabin Rentals today to reserve your comfortable cabin.