A brief 90-minute car ride away from Knoxville, Tennessee, plenty of adventure awaits you in the Great Smokey Mountains. Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are referred to as the “Gateway to the Smokies,” as these two towns offer visitors a wide variety of activities and attractions. Gatlinburg is perhaps best known for its scenic beauty. Nestled at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Pigeon Forge, on the other hand, is known for its family-friendly attractions and entertainment.
What do both towns have in common?
They are home to the United States’ most spectacular Alpine coasters!
This region of Tennessee is known as the mecca of alpine coasters because:
- You can enjoy 7 world-class alpine coasters, with a total distance of 27,500 feet in relative proximity
- They are all reasonably priced and built by renowned manufacturers
- They provide breathtaking views of the smokey mountains
- They give thrill seekers their expected rush, but also offer safe fun for a family
Alpine coasters provide the same adrenaline rush as traditional roller coasters, but instead of being powered by a chain or motor, they rely on gravity to send riders down a series of hills and turns. Alpine coasters are a great option for those who want to add a little thrill to their mountain vacation. If you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping ride, an alpine coaster in Tennessee’s smokey mountains is definitely worth checking out.
The Smokey Mountains of Tennessee feature 7 alpine coasters
They all vary in price, length, and maximum speed, so it is important to pick the right alpine coaster for you.
Here is a quick overview of the 7 coasters that await you:
|Price per ride
|Smokey Mountain Alpine Coaster
|Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster
|The Coaster at Goats on the Roof
|Ski Mountain Coaster
|Rowdy Bear Coaster
|Rocky Top Mountain Coaster
1. Smoky Mountain Coaster—A real must-ride!
The first alpine coaster in Pigeon Forge is the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster! It is one of the longest and provides riders with stunning views of the Smoky Mountains. This coaster features over 5,400 feet of track and takes riders down a hillside at speeds up to 27 miles per hour. It features long double downs, s-curve sections, and massive helices.
- Stunning light show at night
- Groupon often available
- Can go without using the brakes the entire way!
- Short waiting times
The ride is located near the Gatlinburg Welcome Center:
2. Rocky Top Mountain Coaster
This coaster is the newest addition to the spectacular assortment of mountain coasters that await you in the Smokey Mountains. The ride has 4 lifts, 4 tunnels, full 360-degree turns, and a sophisticated theme. There are several pleasant surprises along the track that we won’t spoil in this description. The ride is much larger than it looks from the road, and it is the longest coaster in Tennessee. The ride can take up to 10 minutes, even though some maniacs try to reach speeds of 30 miles per hour (48.28 km/h). Just like the smoky mountain coaster, you can ride this one at night.
The ride is located close to Dollywood and only a few minutes away from Veterans Boulevard.
3. Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster
The Gatlinburg Mountain coaster is a family-friendly coaster as it also offers 2-person cars, so you can accompany younger kids or share the experience with a friend or family member. The aesthetics of this ride strongly differ at night, so we suggest riding this one twice, both during the day and at night. Part of the track is not lit at all and at times pitch black!
4. Rowdy Bear Coaster
The Rowdy Bear Coaster is the fastest one on this list, so you’re definitely in for an adventure. 35 miles per hour really gets your adrenaline pumping. But since you can control your own speed using the brakes, it is still family-friendly. The Rowdy Bear Coaster also offers an hourly price, which is definitely worth it, if there is no queue, and you prefer to push towards the 35 mph! Near the end of the coaster, there is also another attraction you can try, called Mountain Glider.
5. Coaster at Goats on the Roof
This coaster is located just down the road from the Smokey Mountain Coaster (Number 1 on this list), but it is around 1,000 feet shorter and perhaps not really worth it if you already rode the classic just before. It is is only around a mile long, but reaches up to 30 mph. The ride takes around 7 minutes but offers some of the best mountain views. The best part, you can feed the goats at the end for only 3$.
Pro tip: Check for discount tickets on Groupon. Sometimes they have a promotion where you can ride a second time for an additional $5
6. Ski Mountain Coaster
The Ski Mountain Coaster at Ober Gatlinburg is ideal for kids and families, who have never ridden an alpine coaster before. It is also suitable for young kids, as it has the shortest height requirement: 36 inches. So technically, even some two-year-olds might be allowed to ride this one! Even better, kids up to 4 years old are allowed to ride for free with a paying adult. At a maximum speed of 25 mph, it is the slowest mountain coaster in Tennessee. The ride is only around 2,750 feet but features some sharp turns and unexpected dips.
While you may not want to drive all the way there for the coaster itself, please note that there are also other thrilling attractions in Ober Gatlinburg. These include an ice skating rink, skiing slopes, snow tubing rentals, and ice bumper cars! The tram up from Gatlinburg only costs 15$ per person and provides spectacular views!
7. Rail Runner
As the name may suggest, Rail Runner is a single-rail alpine coaster. The only one on the entire American continent. This coaster is not suitable for younger kids, as it is very intense and virtually plummets down the mountain. The track is only 1600 feet long but drops by 400 feet!. Some turns are extremely tight as well, so ensure your seat belt fits snugly.
Unfortunately, this ride is part of the Anakeesta theme park, which means you have to pay a hefty $22 lift admission first in order to pay the $12.99 for the ride itself. Kids only pay $14.99 altogether, but as mentioned, younger kids that are afraid of heights are out of the question for this one. The height requirements for this ride are exceptionally strict. You have to be over 47 inches to ride alone or at least 40 inches to ride together with an adult in a 2-person car.