Anakeesta’s new tower to be downtown Gatlinburg’s highest point
As part of its largest expansion ever, this year Anakeesta is now adding new ways for guests to enjoy an authentic outdoor Smoky Mountain experience in downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Anakeesta’s new one-of-a-kind observation tower will become the tallest point in downtown Gatlinburg. Perched on the summit of the mountain, visitors will enjoy breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounding states.
“Our iconic tower will be the crowning element on top of Anakeesta mountain,” shared co-founder and co-owner Bob Bentz, who also designed the tower. “Visitors travel from all over the world to enjoy the beauty of the Smoky Mountains and now they will be able to experience 360º panoramic views right in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg.”
Anakeesta’s $6 million dollar expansion in 2020, its biggest to date, is now underway with plans to be ready this summer. Opening just two-and-a-half years ago in September 2017, the mountaintop destination has invested a total of $30 million, continually adding shopping, dining, and fun outdoor entertainment for families to explore nature. Soon, even more adventure will await Anakeesta guests who ride 600 feet (183 m) up the mountain on the Chondola’s open-air four-person chairlift or enclosed gondola cabin or the Ridge Rambler Adventure Truck.
In addition to the tower, the current project promises to double Anakeesta’s dining capacity. A new Smokehouse and Brewery restaurant will seat close to 300 guests who can delight in Southern BBQ favorites. Diners will be surrounded by fabulous mountain vistas from a glass-enclosed, climate-controlled indoor area or a spacious outdoor patio. The new restaurant will also serve local craft beers at an inside bar and a walk-up window.
“This restaurant is truly unique. Where else can you dine and enjoy the sun setting over the Smoky Mountains or watch the clouds roll in through the valley below,” asked Bentz. “Every seat from the Smokehouse restaurant will offer views of Mt. LeConte, the highest mountain peak that is completely within Tennessee.”
Just outside the storybook-styled restaurant, a new family-friendly water feature, designed to resemble a Tennessee mountain creek complete with waterfall will help kids of all ages keep cool. Additional walk-up windows will offer frozen yogurt and pizza. Guests can enjoy listening to live music from a new stage, relax together by two additional mountaintop firepits, and unwind at a Vista Garden’s new coffee and snack shop – all while overlooking the forested peaks and valleys of the country’s most visited national park.
Anakeesta is also adding a new play area for families to enjoy, featuring whimsical treehouses connected by a net challenge course and areas to swing and relax. Finally, a new accessible boardwalk will be built to extend Anakeesta’s botanical garden walkway. The trail winds its way into the beautiful Vista Gardens, where the new, yet-to-be named, observation tower will stand.
All of these exciting additions will complement existing activities like the Children’s Treehouse Village Adventure, BearVenture play area, Dueling Ziplines, Rail Runner mountain coaster and the Treetop Skywalk. At more than 800 feet (244 m) long the Treetop Skywalk is the longest tree-based bridge in North America with a spectacular series of suspension bridges hanging 50 to 60 feet (15 to 18 m) in the air between trees.