On your next visit to the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, make sure you spend some time at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg. What is Anakeesta exactly? Part unique theme park, part free play experience, and part mountain top retreat, Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, Tennessee has a lot to offer everyone.
What is Anakeesta, exactly?
Part culinary experience, part thrill-seeking experience, and part natural attraction, Anakeesta literally means “the place of high ground” in the Cherokee language. It sits on top on a 70-acre mountain that rises 600 feet above the city of Gatlinburg. Your adventure begins with unique ways to access the village, either by open air chair lift or the unique Ridge Rambler vehicle.
There is something for everyone when your reach the top of the mountain. Shopping, dining, zip-lining, and breathtaking views are all part of the experience that is Anakeesta.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Anakeesta?
Unlike the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there is an admission fee to visit Anakeesta. There are two ticket options for guests visiting the park:
- General admission for adults (ages 12-59) is $34.99, children (ages 4-11) $22.99, and seniors (age 60+) $27.99
- Annual Passes for adults (ages 12-59) are $69.99, children (ages 4-11) $57.99, and seniors (age 60+) $62.99
- General admission tickets are good for 1 year from the date of purchase. Express passes, which are the same price as general admission, allows you to choose the exact day and time you visit Anakeesta. The Express Passes allow guests to skip the Chondola line and head straight for the next available open air chair.
Children 3 years old and under are free. Buy your general admission online and save $2 per ticket (and save time standing in line)!
Transportation Up the Mountain
Guests can only get up to Anakeesta one of two ways. The most popular way is a Chondola ride, which includes enclosed gondola cabins or open air chairs. The enclosed gondolas are not part of the Express Pass admission, and there are eight of them.
If chair lifts are not your thing, take a ride on the Ridge Rambler instead. This large vehicle seats up to 20 passengers, and is more like a small bus combined with the stylings of a Jeep. Either way, the ride up to and down from Anakeesta is included in your admission.
Included in Admission
If the prices seem a little steep, consider visiting at night! Tickets purchased one hour before close give guests access to the park the following day for FREE. Alternatively, visit in the morning, take a break in the afternoon, and return again at dusk. Admission is valid for all day.
Included in the Anakeesta admission:
- Unlimited Chondola or Ridge Rambler rides to the summit
- North America’s longest Treetop Skywalk
- BearVenture and TreeVenture Challenge Course
- Vista Gardens with AnaVista Tower, Downtown Gatlinburg’s highest point
- Treehouse Village Adventure
- Memorial Forest Interpretive Walk
- Shopping and scenic dining opportunities
- Gorgeous scenic views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Gatlinburg
Extra Fun on Your Visit
While the following items are not included in your admission, they might just enhance the fun you’ll have on your visit!
Mountain coasters have become very popular in recent years, and the Rail Runner Mountain Coaster is no exception! Single riders (at least 7 years old and 48″ tall) are $12.99 and tandem riders (passengers must be between 3 and 7 years old and 38″ tall) are $14.99.
Anakeesta’s Dueling Zipline Adventure allows guests to zipline side by side with family and friends! Adults (ages 12-59) are $54.99, children (ages 7-11) $50.99 and seniors (age 60+) are $52.99. If you end up loving it so much you want to do it again, same day zipline adventures are 50% off!
Astra Lumina Night Walk Experience
Newly added in the fall of 2022 is the Astra Lumina Enchanted Night Walk. Moment Factory installed its first multimedia experience in the US with the Astra Lumina Night Walk in Gatlinburg. The experience is unlike any other. It involves all the senses, and it is best viewed at night.
Purchase tickets to Astra Lumina in combination with your admission to Anakeesta to save on the total cost of your adventure.
Where to Eat and Drink at Anakeesta
Anakeesta has some of the best food you can find anywhere in Gatlinburg. It is worth the visit alone to indulge in some of their finest food offerings
Cliff Top is my favorite restaurant on the mountain. Their salads and cocktails are amazing. Make sure you check out the seasonal offerings for food and drinks! If you need something a little more hearty, they’ve got great steaks, gourmet burgers, and savory appetizers too.
Smokehouse is a new-to-me restaurant as it was not open the last time I visited. As the name suggests, you can enjoy smoked meats like pulled pork, brisket, and chicken as well as classic sides and signature drinks.
Two bars, Tap House and The Bar at the Top of the World, offer unique views and locals brews as well as specialty cocktails, wine, beer.
Finally, if you’re just in the mood for a quick bite, there are several spots that serve snacks and beverages as well as a quick meal of hot dogs, pizza, or frozen yogurt at Kephart Café near Black Bear Plaza.
Is Anakeesta in Gatlinburg Worth a Visit?
While there are many things in the Great Smoky Mountains vying for your attention on your vacation, Anakeesta definitely needs to be near the top of your list.
The views alone are worth the price of admission, but there is also something interesting for everyone to try including food, activities, and shopping!