There are lots of extreme outdoor adventures in the Smoky Mountains that are perfect for thrill-seekers of all levels.
Your next Gatlinburg vacation is a great time to try something new that takes you outside of your comfort zone.
I’ve had the opportunity to experience all the listed during previous trips in partnership with Visit Gatlinburg over the years.
I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a thrill-seeker. All of these outdoor adventures in Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains have been tried and tested by various family or friends who traveled with me.
Some of these outdoor adventures were less intimidating for me than others. I’m typically ok with heights but more uneasy with unpredictable.
Get a Bird’s Eye View On a Zipline Canopy Tour
There are lots of great companies where you can zipline in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, or relatively closeby.
Each zipline canopy tour offers unique vantage points of the Smoky Mountain Region. There is even a zipline that travels over a waterfall.
I would recommend wearing athletic clothing that doesn’t ride up with a harness. You’ll also want to bring some cash to tip your zipline guides.
Side note: extra cash is always good to have on hand for tipping for any adventure with a guide.
Go Off-Roading on an ATV Tour
Take it to the extreme on the trails with an ATV tour at Foxfire Mountain located about 30 minutes from Gatlinburg in Sevierville. The guided tour on the Bear Crawler extreme 8 wheeler ATV at Foxfire Mountain can be a fun family adventure to experience with kids as young as 3 years old.
Depending on the weather, be prepared to get muddy or dirty on this tour!
Pro tip- Ask the guide for seating recommendations based on how dry you want to stay during your ride.
But keep in mind, the more mud, the more fun!
Enjoy White Water Rafting on the Pigeon River
Take it to the extreme on the Upper Pigeon River white water rafting with Rafting in the Smokies during your Gatlinburg vacation.
The Upper Pigeon River has 12 Class III and 3 Class IV thrilling whitewater rapids over a 5-mile stretch!
This was an adventure that was more outside out of my comfort zone. I like adventures with a harness and my biggest concern was falling out of the raft.
I’m happy to report that the kids and I stayed in the raft the entire time and we had a great time. It was fun to float near our raft during the calm part at the end of our trip too.
If you enjoy a slower pace, a rafting trip on the Lower River is more relaxed and great for families with younger kids.
Control Your Speed on a Mountain Coaster
If you love to push speeds to the limit, you’ll love the rush from controlling your speed on a mountain coaster. The individual cars on the steel tracks on the mountain coaster make the ride down the mountain very smooth.
You’ll find that the Smoky Mountain region has lots of options when it comes to finding a mountain coaster in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Experience Riding a Sled-like Cart on an Alpine Slide
Before there were mountain coasters the alpine slide was the extreme way to sled down a track on a mountain. Your alpine slide adventure starts with a ride on a scenic chairlift to the top of the track.
The alpine slide at Ober Gatlinburg, you can race the person next to you down the concrete luge style track. Your speed on the sled depends on how often you choose to use the brakes that you control by hand.
Make sure that you follow all of the safety signs along the track and keep your distance from riders in front of you on the way down.
Test Your Skills on a High Ropes Challenge Course
Aerial Ropes Courses are a great opportunity to really challenge yourself.
You are harnessed into the structure the whole time which gives you the freedom to take a risk on a suspended element without the consequences of a big fall. If you do slip, your gear will keep you secured in the air a few feet from the structure.
Many of the high ropes challenge courses in the Smokie Mountains offer different difficulty options depending on your comfort level. We really enjoyed our time on the High Elements Ropes Challenge Course at Rafting in the Smokies.
There is nothing greater than the feeling you get after you successfully complete a challenging element. I’ve found that high ropes courses can be great confidence boosters for both kids and adults.
Take An Extreme Ride Dry or Wet Zorbing
Roll down a hill inside a giant bubble for a ride like no other. At Outdoor Gravity Park you can choose your path on 4 different zorbing paths.
If you are wet zorbing make sure that you bring a towel and a change of clothes. Swimsuits with a coverup or DRI fit athletic clothes are perfect for inside the O.G.O ball.
I recommend paying for the photo package to capture your priceless expressions inside the O.G.O ball while zorbing.
Check out my husband’s ride with the SOUND ON.
Go Skiing, Snowboarding or Snow Tubing at Ober Gatlinburg
If you visit Gatlinburg in the winter, Ober Gatlinburg is a great place for winter sports. You can snow ski, snowboard, and use the terrain park if you want it even more extreme.
For guests who only want to spend a shorter time outside, I recommend snow tubing or to go ice skating inside.
A Few More Tips Before Your Next Smoky Mountain Adventure
- Plan Ahead
Many business take reservations weeks in advance. Don’t assume that you can walk up and get your preferred day and time without booking in advance
- Double-check safety, Weight, and Age Policies
You don’t want to find out that someone in your party can’t join you the hard way.
- Check for Discounts and Specials
Follow the business’s social media and sign up for their newsletters. There is a good chance that you’ll find discounts on ziplining, etc. Many Smoky Mountain attractions in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer discounts for visiting multiple attractions.
- Dress for the Adventure
Most of the adventures with harnesses require close-toed shoes. For adventures with harnesses, I recommend wearing leggings or athletic capris so that your shorts don’t ride up super short with the harness.
- Pack for After the Adventure
If you are white water rafting you will want to have extra clothes, toiletries, and towels ready for after the trip.
- Plan Your Meals
Nothing ruins an adventure quicker than someone being hangry. Keep snacks in your vehicle and don’t adventure on an empty stomach.
- Don’t Forget Pictures
Purchase the photo package for the best pictures. If you have someone in your party observing, you might be able to get them to take some pictures too.
- Bring Cash to Tip Your Guides
The guides can really make your experience and tips are appreciated.
Which outdoor adventure in the Smokies will you cross off your bucket list first?
The hardest part is deciding which outdoor adventure you want to try during your next visit.