“We’re looking for attractions that currently do not exist in Sevier County, so something that’s brand new, something that there’s nothing in Sevier County like it.”– Mark Adams, New President of Ober Gatlinburg.
A new era has begun at Tennessee’s only active ski resort. Ski Area Management reports that Joe Baker has acquired Ober Gatlinburg from the Anders family, which has run the ski resort and tramway since the 1970s. Joe Baker is a local entrepreneur and former Sevier County attorney.
Some of the immediate changes to come include a new logo, changing the name to Ober Mountain, and sprucing up the base lodge. A project that was being worked on by the prior ownership group was a downhill mountain biking park. This mountain biking attraction will be completed by the new leadership team. Future plans could include new attractions (such as a zip line and an ATV course) and the addition of lodging.
In terms of the skiing operations, I’d say there’s some room for growth here too. Although their seasons are typically short, there are some potential capacity upgrades. There are currently only ten trails, a terrain park, and five lifts, which seem small based on the scope of the property. There is a scenic chairlift ride open during the summer to Mount Harrison, but only half of the peak is skiable via the Blue lift during the winter.
A trail expansion would be cool to see here, with a new gondola/tram lift that could be added to have more symmetry with the ariel tramway that brings guests from Gatlinburg to the ski area’s base area. Snowmaking improvements could help them develop a longer winter season, as the six-hundred-foot vertical drop is rather short.
Ultimately, Ober Gatlinburg is more of a summer destination, due to the milder climate, and it’s very close to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most popular national park in the United States. Some of their attractions include a year-round tubing park, an aerial tramway, an indoor ice rink, an alpine slide, a wildlife habitat, a mountain coaster, mini golf, and more. It’ll be interesting to see what changes new ownership will bring to this unique ski resort.
Image Credits: Ober Gatlinburg