Gatlinburg is a national park border town in Tennessee’s Smokey Mountains that attracts more than 11 million visitors annually. This city with 4,000 local residents already includes Boyne Resorts’ Gatlinburg Sky Lift and the Ober Gatlinburg 120-passenger aerial tramway. Doppelmayr also built a quad chair in 2012 called the Wilderness Mountain Chairlift in nearby Wears Valley. Anakeesta is a new project that brings two acres of retail to the center of Gatlinburg with a 65-acre mountaintop adventure park rising above. A unique fixed-grip chondola lift will connect Anakeesta Village with the park, dubbed AerialQuest.
Anakeesta’s developers were kind enough to provide me with a few details on this unique lift. I initially assumed it would be a pulse gondola system similar to the Iron Mountain Tramway that serves a mountaintop adventure park in Colorado. Anakeesta’s chondola will be the first lift of its kind to feature chairs and gondola cabins. I’m pretty sure no one else has done this anywhere in the world on a fixed-grip lift. In order to accomplish the feat, line speed will be very slow – under 200 feet a minute. The system will be 2,032 feet long with a vertical of 528′ and will take about 12 minutes to ride. It will have 104 quad chairs with 8 six-passenger gondola cabins carrying a total of 1,000 passengers per hour. Since no contract has been signed, the developer is not quite ready to say which lift company they are contracting with. But if you know your lifts you can identify the terminal in the drawing above. Anakeesta will open in 2017, crowning Gatlinburg as the lift capital of the southeast!