Gatlinburg, Tennessee is one of those places with a little of everything to do to make your vacation an extraordinary experience. You’ll find exciting attractions, fabulous restaurants, and top notch Gatlinburg hotels. But what sets Gatlinburg apart is the Great Smoky Mountains towering 520,000 with cascading waterfalls, wildflowers, native wildlife and foliage that look like a postcard or pages from a storybook.
Mountain Coasters in Gatlinburg, TN
Hiking the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an unforgettable experience but getting the birds-eye-view that only a mountain coaster can deliver is something else entirely. Namely, a must-do experience we recommend to all groups visiting Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Mountain coasters, or summer toboggans, are rollercoasters that hug a peak, weave through the area’s natural flora, and give you incredible mountain views. It’s one of the best ways to see all that a mountain range has to offer—while zipping through a forest.
So, if you want to see the Great Smoky Mountains from every angle and have a blast doing it, check out our picks for the top mountain coasters in Gatlinburg:
1 | Go your own way with Rail Runner at Anakeesta | Meet the Rail Runner at Anakeesta: It’s an oldie but a goodie. Anakeesta’s mountain coaster is one of the first mountain coasters in the United States. But just because it’s a classic, doesn’t mean it’s rickety. Anakeesta’s Rail Runner is modern, single-rail coaster that allows you to control your own speed. Starting with 1,600 feet of downhill riding, a 400-foot elevation change, and a max speed of 25 miles per hour, Rail Runner is an exhilarating and picturesque way for solo and tandem riders to enjoy the Great Smoky Mountains.
Once you’re done with the coaster, be sure to check out the rest of Anakeesta, a 2018 Attraction of the Year Award-winner. With dueling ziplines, plenty of restaurants, and beautiful gardens on property (in addition to their awesome mountain coaster), it’s clear why they earned the accolade.
2 | Get a great view with Ski Mountain Coaster at Ober Gatlinburg | High above the city of Gatlinburg, the Ski Mountain Coaster at Ober Gatlinburg takes riders on a mountain seeing experience of a lifetime. Start with a 1,000-foot long ride up to the top and then prepare for a variety of dips, turns, zig-zags, and corkscrews, all at your own chosen speed (though the max is 25 miles per hour). Throughout the 3,750 feet of track, you’ll be able to view the majestic Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which directly borders Ober Gatlinburg. It’s a view you can’t get anywhere else.
Afterward, round out your excursion with ice bumper cars, wildlife encounters, and ice skating—all offered at Ober Gatlinburg, and all great ways to spend a family-friendly afternoon.
3 | Take it all in with Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster | What sets the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster apart from other Gatlinburg-area mountain coasters? For one, it goes up to 30 miles per hour—that’s five miles per hour more than the average mountain coaster. Not compelling enough? The Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster is also the longest downhill mountain coaster in the U.S. and it’s open 365 days a year, which we think is worth mentioning. Because of its extra length and speed options, the ride can take between 7-8 minutes to complete, which believe it or not, is longer than other coasters on this list.
So, if you want more bang for your mountain coaster buck, check out Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. The views are just as good, but you’ll be able to see them longer. It’s a win-win.
4 | Breeze through the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster | Zip through a forest of Northern Hardwood trees as you climb your way up to Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster’s peak. At the top, enjoy a breathtaking mountain view before cruising back down again as their single-rail track twists and turns. With Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster, you are able to catch a glimpse of Tennessee wildlife and flora all while zooming through a coaster ride at 25 miles per hour. If you’re in Gatlinburg, a mountain coaster is a must-do—and Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster is a solid choice with reliable views and thrills. You can even pick up some merchandise on your way out to commemorate the experience. What more could you ask for from a mountain coaster ride?
5 | Get a two-for-one special with Rowdy Bear Mountain Gravity Coaster | Rowdy Bear Mountain is a twofer situation. Once you’re there, you can cruise down the Rowdy Bear Mountain Gravity Coaster or swing from the treetops with the Rowdy Bear Mountain Glider, a one-of-a-kind suspended single rail coaster.
First, let’s take a look at their mountain gravity coaster. It’s a gravity-powered alpine coaster that takes you downhill at a whopping 35 miles per hour (that’s about 10 more miles per hour than some of the other coasters on our list). It may have a higher max speed, but like many mountain coasters, you can control your own speed so there’s no need to rush if you don’t want to. You can ride solo, or with a buddy and you can ride in all kinds of weather—the track is safe for operation in rain, sleet, snow, and sunshine. What does that mean for you? No matter what time of year you decide to visit, this coaster is open for business.
Once you’re off the mountain coaster, check out Rowdy Bear Mountain Glider, another mountain coaster on Rowdy Bear Mountain property but that gives you Gatlinburg views from a suspended single rail this time. After all, do you really want to miss out on the world’s first mountain glider?
6 | Get your views with The Coaster at Goats on the Roof | Have you wanted to ride down a brightly lit, rainbow mountain coaster? Well, whether that’s a dream of yours or not, the Coaster at Goats on the Roof can make that happen. Clocking at a near mile in length, the Coaster reaches speeds of nearly 30 miles per hour and gives riders breathtaking views of Tennessee’s gorgeous nature. Like many other coasters on the list, the Coaster’s speed can be adjusted by hand and can accommodate one or two riders. Once your sled reaches the peak, you’ll zoom down the 4,375-foot journey with gravity as your guide. It’s one the smoothest, yet most exhilarating ways to enjoy mountain scenery—and it lasts about seven minutes, which is longer than most. After you’re done, be sure to keep an eye out for the goats after which the park is named.
Last Words about the Best Mountain Coasters in Gatlinburg
Once you’re done exploring the national park, see the mountains from another perspective, a hike cannot deliver. Mountain coasters are a great way to get a bigger look at the majestic peaks of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park
If you want to fill up the rest of your Gatlinburg days, but don’t know where to start, check out our list of restaurants in Gatlinburg and our even longer list of 51 Things to Do in Gatlinburg Tennessee, including the trails in Gatlinburg TN. We’re sure you’ll find plenty of great additions to your day, once you’ve wrapped up your mountain coaster bucket list.