Anyone who has visited Gatlinburg in the past year has seen the work that has been progressing right across from Ripley’s Aquarium. As you can see from the picture, it is the new Anakeesta development that is set to open in mid to late August–just a few weeks away. An exact date has not yet been set, but make sure you visit or just Like their Facebook page to get the news directly on your news feed. Let me describe for you what you can anticipate from the newest activity-filled attraction in Gatlinburg.

The word “Anakeesta” comes from the Cherokee word for “place of the balsams.” They are a little similar to Ober Gatlinburg, but there are stark differences too. Ober gives you the option of parking up on the mountain if you don’t want to pay to ride the tram. It is also a ski resort, which Anakeesta is not. Also, since there is no parking area on Anakeesta Mountain, visitors must ride either a 4 person open-air chairlift or an enclosed 6 person chondola to get to the top. There will be onsite parking next to Anakeesta before getting on one of the lifts, but you can also park nearby in the McMaster parking garage, where it is $6 or $7 max and $1.75 per hour in the enclosed garage

Once you reach the top of Anakeesta Mountain, you will find a myriad of options for the $20 cost to ride to the summit. There is a treetop canopy walk plus a neat children’s treetop playground; both of which are included in your price of admission. Additional costs are on the zipline, mountain coaster–which will be done later in the fall–and a gem mining activity. Each of them looks like mountains of fun that adults and kids will be sure to enjoy as part of their experience.

Firefly Village will provide a nice combination of retail and dining options. At their opening, Anakeesta will have ready plenty of dessert varieties at Pearl’s Pie in the Sky, and the BBQ cuisine will be represented by Summit Smokehouse. Shopping will include a whimsical boutique store called Catching Fireflies, and Great Outdoors Trading Company–a store that rivals NOC but on a much smaller scale–for all your outdoor or hiking adventures that await you in The Smoky Mountains. An amphitheater is also being planned for next spring, and it will feature dazzling views of Mt. LeConte. There will still be plenty of wonderful views for you to enjoy up here, even if you make this part of your upcoming trip to the Smokies after Anakeesta’s opening.

Right now the workers are getting things ready as best as they can, and Anakeesta owners and managers are also hard at work, gathering the proper people into their hiring process to make sure guests have a memorable and all-around spectacular experience at Gatlinburg’s newest and more ambitious projects in recent memory. For a full description of fun activities your family can enjoy, visit their website at Thanks for reading, and keep checking in for the latest Gatlinburg activities, tips, and viewpoints!