The Ober Gatlinburg tramway has just undergone a historic renovation with $4.5 million in upgrades and maintenance, including the full replacement of the original track ropes from 1973! The tramway has reopened with major upgrades, making this the perfect time to reflect on this iconic Smoky Mountain attraction! Here are 3 interesting facts that you didn’t know about the Ober Gatlinburg tramway:
1. Tramway Dates Back to 1973
Before the days of the aerial tramway, visitors to Ober Gatlinburg had to drive to the top of Mt. Harrison by car. While this was fine during the warmer months of the year, this wasn’t always an easy drive during the winter with icy road conditions! The owners of Ober Gatlinburg decided that a tramway would provide a safer and more comfortable ride to the top while offering a unique opportunity to view the Smokies! The construction began on the tramway in September of 1972 and it opened just one year later. Since that time, millions of visitors have enjoyed the spectacular and scenic rides on the tramway!
2. Each Tram Can Transport 120 Guests
Another interesting fact about the Ober Gatlinburg tramway is that each of the two counterbalanced cars can accommodate up to 120 guests! Due to this amazing capacity, the trams carry more than 3,000 people up to Ober Gatlinburg on a daily basis! The trams depart every 20 minutes and travel over 2 miles during their journey to the top of the mountain. The breathtaking ride is one of the most popular destinations in the Smoky Mountains and is considered a “must see” attraction when visiting Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge!
3. One of the Few Tramways in the USA
The aerial tramway is a truly special ride and one of just a few tramways in the USA! There are currently only 21 operating in the United States, which is quite a small number when you consider that Switzerland is home to 97 large aerial tramways! These are sometimes confused with gondola lifts, which are generally smaller cabins suspended from a continuously circulating cable. Some of the other well known tramways in the USA include the Roosevelt Island Tramway in New York City, Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway in California.
Ober Gatlinburg Visitor Information
If you plan on visiting Ober Gatlinburg during the tramway renovation, you will be excited to know that the mountaintop attractions, retail shops and restaurants will be open for business as usual! The only exception is the Annual Shutdown in the last week of April and the first week of May when the park will be shut down to the public for maintenance and improvements. While the Ober Gatlinburg tramway is out of service, there will be a free shuttle available from downtown to the mountaintop park. As an alternative, you can drive your own vehicle to the top via Ski Mountain Road.
Check out all of the rooms at our hotel in downtown Gatlinburg today to stay near the departure point for the Ober Gatlinburg tramway and be one of the first guests to ride! We look forward to seeing you soon!