Anakeesta’s TreeVenture is the newest way to explore the Smoky Mountains in downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The unique treehouse adventure course is the first phase of Anakeesta’s largest-ever expansion to open to the public, with its one-of-a-kind observation tower on track to open next month.
“Treehouses capture everyone’s imagination, and nestled in the trees at the top of a mountain, TreeVenture encompasses the whimsical feel you find throughout Anakeesta,” Anakeesta Partner and ClimbWorks Owner Nick Thompson explained. “TreeVenture offers a family-friendly adventure for all ages. Each treehouse entrance features a different level of difficulty, so you pick your path and create your own adventure.”
TreeVenture, which is included in Anakeesta’s regular general admission price, is made up of three multi-level treehouses connected by nets, ropes, hanging logs and platforms. A winding slide, hanging stairs and look-out platform add to this unique multiple level challenge course that offers free-form play and does not require a harness.
Just a short walk from TreeVenture, and surrounded by the beautiful Vista Gardens which are in full bloom, visitors can see Anakeesta’s AnaVista Tower taking shape. The new AnaVista Tower will offer even more breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounding states. As the only one of its kind in the world, the observation tower will soon be downtown Gatlinburg’s highest point.
“Everywhere at Anakeesta has fantastic views, but when you travel 600-plus feet (183+ m) up to the top of the mountain on our lift, and then go 60 feet (18 m) higher in the air on the tower, you get a 360º view that’s indescribable.” co-founder and Managing Partner Bob Bentz, who also designed the tower, shared. “We went through a number of different design concepts, and decided upon the concept of it emulating a flower, a flower opening up to the sky. If you look at the form and shape of a flower, and you look at the tower itself, you can see a very similar opening up to the sky, opening up to the heavens, opening up to the sun – much like a flower.”
In just a few short months, Anakeesta has transformed its mountaintop in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg to offer visitors even more authentic outdoor Smoky Mountain experiences. Anakeesta’s wide open spaces and fresh mountain air offer visitors a safe place to share some of the best views of the Smokies – just a Chondola or Ridge Rambler ride away. It is located on 70 acres of pristine forested land nestled in and above the heart of downtown Gatlinburg. Anakeesta is a Cherokee Indian word referring to high ground.
In addition to the shopping and open-air dining already available, Anakeesta is also doubling its dining capacity with a new Smokehouse Barbeque and Brewery. It will be the only place to see the Great Smoky Mountains and Mt. LeConte while enjoying full-service dining in Gatlinburg.
“When you look out the windows of our Smokehouse Barbeque and Brewery, it really feels like you’re looking at a framed painting of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” co-founder Karen Bentz explained. “There is no other place in Gatlinburg where you can sit, enjoy a glass of wine, a wonderful meal and be this close to the Smoky Mountains. It’s really going to add to the experience you have at Anakeesta.”
As part of this third phase of its $6.5 million expansion, Anakeesta is also adding a new stage for live music, mountaintop firepit with walk-up bar for beer including local craft brews, walk-up windows for pizza and frozen yogurt and a water play area designed to resemble a Tennessee mountain creek.
“We want visitors to imagine being outside enjoying the national park. We designed an eight-foot cascading waterfall featuring a bear looking down from the top with a small stream flowing down,” Development Manager Bryce Bentz shared. “If you want to cool off on a hot summer day, you can enjoy the cool river rocks, while whimsical animal sculptures and boulders that surround you shoot out streams of refreshing water.”