GATLINBURG SPACE NEEDLE
You don’t always have to climb a mountaintop or stay in one of our Gatlinburg Cabins to get a bird’s-eye view of the Gatlinburg area. In fact, some of the best views in town are just an elevator ride away when you head to the top of the Gatlinburg Space Needle, located downtown at the intersection of Parkway and Historic Nature Trail.
Built to resemble the famous Seattle Space Needle, this Smoky Mountains version is an all-steel tower with two elevators that take guests 400 feet above ground, where 360-degree views of the mountains and the city are laid out at spectators’ feet. If you want to get a closer view of things, you can take a peek through one of the many free viewfinders found on the observation deck.
Among the sites to look for is Mt. LeConte, the third highest peak in the Smokies and one of the tallest in the Eastern United States. You’ll also see surrounding timber growth as it changes with the seasons, from the fresh greens of spring to the bright reds, yellows and oranges of fall.
While you’re breathing in the air up there, the Space Needle’s Higher Learning component adds fun facts about the area’s rich history to the beautiful views. You’ll hear interesting details about the different sites you can see from the top of the tower, and you’ll get a good dose of local history too. For example, you’ll hear tidbits about Franklin Roosevelt’s trip to Gatlinburg in 1946, the origins of the song Rocky Top and the fact that Billy Ray Cyrus was married in a Gatlinburg chapel.
In addition to the observation deck, the Space Needle is home to Arcadia, a two-level, 25,000-square-foot amusement center featuring an extreme laser tag game, Old Tyme Photos, a hurricane simulator and more. It’s the largest ticket-redemption arcade in the area, featuring a large selection of prizes.
The Space Needle is also where folks in Gatlinburg ring in the new year each December 31. There’s a ball drop from the top of the needle, and at the stroke of midnight, thousands of revelers outside celebrate as they watch a massive fireworks and pyrotechnics display at this iconic Gatlinburg attraction.