Experience the Magic of Anakeesta

Home is where the heart is, and I can honestly say that my heart lies in the Smokies.   Loading up in the car for a quick weekend getaway is nothing for our family.  We love the adventure and memories we create each time we travel 441.  The awe-inspiring views of the cascading light across the mountains and the bursting colors as the sun sets is something that needs to be experienced.   Pictures just can’t truly reveal the splendor of the area like the human eye can.  Now there is a brand new attraction in Gatlinburg that brings you up close and personal to that beauty!  With a wide variety of activities, this mountain playground is geared for all ages!

Perched on the top of Anakeesta Mountain is an adventure park known as Anakeesta.  In Cherokee, the word Anakeesta means “the place of the balsams” or place of higher ground.  Balsam is an aromatic scent that is given from the evergreens in the area.    The only way to get to the summit of Anakeesta Mountain to experience the magic and splendor is on a chondola.   This unique fixed-grip transportation system has 104 quad chairs and eight 6-person gondola cabins. The Anakeesta Chondola is the first of its kind to be built in the United States!

Whether you choose to ride on a 4 person open chairlift or chondola or an enclosed 6 person gondola cabin,  the 14-minute ride is something to enjoy!  You will want to make sure you dress for the weather and that you have on closed toed shoes if you are riding in the chondola.  Anything loose will need to be securely stored before hopping on.  If you are traveling with a stroller or a wheelchair, you will want to board the enclosed gondola.  There is plenty of room inside.




Once you step off the chondola, you are in Firefly Village. Take a stroll through the whimsical village to shop, relax, and eat.  Plenty of Appalachian art, jewelry, home decor, and more from local artisans are available for purchase.  No matter who you are shopping for, you are bound to find something to make them smile!

Worried about buying something at the top of the mountain and having to carry it around?  Don’t be!  If you purchase something, they will be more than happy to get it down to the base where you can pick it up after your day of adventure!



Tired from all that shopping or just want to enjoy the fact that you are on solid ground after a ride up on the chondola? Maybe you just want to take in that fresh mountain air? Why not gather around the fire pits and take in the beauty that surrounds you.  Hidden throughout the village you can find glimpses of magic. From little fairy homes to beautiful birdhouses, the area is filled with little-hidden treasures just waiting for you to discover!

Don’t forget to gaze out at the breathtaking views from the summit’s panoramic overlook.  If you are lucky enough to be there first thing in the morning, you can catch the mist as it rolls off the mountain.  Those that stay late enough will be mesmerized by the beauty of the sun setting in the Great Smoky Mountains.  No matter what time of day you come, you will be blown away by the views from Anakeesta Mountain.




If shopping helps you work up an appetite, Anakeesta has got some great dining options available.   The Anakeesta Smokehouse Southern Barbecue food truck offers delectable menu options.  From crispy chicken tenders to mouth-watering slow-cooked barbecue, this place is sure to satisfy that hunger.   My son and I were eager to sink our mouths into the barbecue after hearing person after person exclaiming how good it was.  We were not disappointed!

Because they slow cook it, the meat has plenty of time to become remarkably tender and delicious.  As my son said, “It’s the stuff BBQ dreams are made of!  The pitmaster really knows what he’s doing.”  Topped with cole slaw and Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce, this smoked to perfection brisket was to die for!

Anakeesta is currently working on another full-service dining establishment.  More details to come as the opening approaches.



Maybe you didn’t come with a hearty Southern appetite, but you know you are in need of something!  Look no further than Pearl’s Pie in the Sky.  Visiting this sweet shop is truly like stepping back in time!  The decor is simply charming and the sweet treats, well, they’re as scrumptious as can be!   With mouth-watering baked goods and creamy ice cream, you will satisfy that sweet craving!  My son and I decided to share a fresh strawberry sundae!  As you can see from our picture below, it was more than enough!




Anakeesta is not just about eating and shopping, it’s an adventure waiting for you! If racing on zip lines sounds like your style, then you have to check out the Dueling Zipline.  Just as the name suggests, you can zip 1,000 feet through the treetops with a family member or friend! They have even got a few places where you can really test your courage as you rappel 60 feet off from one platform to another!



Perhaps the adventure of a zip line is not your idea of fun, but strolling through an enchanted forest is.  The Tree Canopy Walk is a great place to encounter a beautiful bird’s eye view of the scenic landscape of Anakeesta Mountain.  Suspended 40 to 60 feet above the forest floor,  the canopy walk includes 16 hanging bridges.  Each bridge leads to a new observation platform where you can take in the breathtaking views and learn about the area with the help of several interpretive signs.


The Treehouse Village Playground is one of our favorite places at Anakeesta.  Made out of whimsical treehouses interconnected by bridges of varying challenge, you can’t help but release your inner child as you uncover the surprises awaiting you here.  It’s like something out of Swiss Family Robinson. Rope-bridges suspended between the treehouses set against an enchanted forest is something all kids need to experience!



Try your luck at striking it rich with Anakeesta’s gem mining.   It’s the perfect activity for children of all ages.  Just purchase your package and head on over the waterfall to uncover what gems are waiting for you beneath the dirt!   Imagine all the memories that will be created as you become prospectors!



One of the things that I want to make sure you see is Anakeesta’s Forest Memorial Interpretive Trail.  November 28, 2016, is a day that is etched into the memories of locals as well as many others that call this place their home away from home.  More than 15,000 acres of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Gatlinburg were damaged by the devastating wildfires.  Stroll through the Forest Memorial Interpretive Trail, located on the southside of Anakeesta Mountain.  This area was badly scorched during the fire and now stands as a reminder of the courage and strength of those impacted.   Read the stories and gaze out at the charred remains.  Find out how the area united as one and became mountain strong.


This is not all that Anakeesta has to offer visitors! They are currently working on enhancing guest experiences with the addition of a mountain coaster, amphitheater, and lodging.   Coming Summer of 2018, the Anakeesta Rail Runner Mountain Coaster promises to be an adrenaline-pumping coaster.  With the ability to reach speeds of up to 25 mph, this coaster is going to be epic!  It will flow seamlessly through the beautiful landscape of Anakeesta Mountain beginning with 1,600 feet of downhill twists and turns that include a 400 ft vertical drop and ending with a scenic uphill ride back to the top of the mountain!  It will even take you through tunnels and across bridges!

In 2019 Anakeesta will welcome an amphitheater that will be nestled into the summit of Anakeesta Mountain and overlooking the beautiful views of Mt. LeConte and the Smoky Mountains.  This outdoor amphitheater will host live music and other events.

Even lodging options will be coming soon.  Rumor has it that there might be a few treehouses to stay in!



Anakeesta is the perfect place to experience the magic of the Smokies!  This unique outdoor attraction immerses guests in the beauty and adventure of the Smokies!

What are you waiting for?  The mountains are calling!


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  1. This place looks so magical! I love the little fairy village -- it's so adorable!
  2. Kristy Bullard says
    My family would love this! How have I never heard of this place? Pinning to make travel plans for later! We love the Smoky Mountains!
  3. Nicole says
    I can see why this is a family favorite of yours, I know mine would love it as well. Although you mentioned that pictures don't really capture the beauty, I thought the images you posted were fantastic. We'll have to add this to our bucket list!
  4. kumamonjeng says
    I have never heard about Anakeesta before. I have been to US for the first time on last winter 2017 but only exploring 2 weeks in California and a little of Nevada and Arizona (Grand Canyon). Glad to learn about this article about Anakeesta and I would love to purchase the small mushroom decoration, so cute and put it in my little garden back home.
  5. Lisa Rios says
    Wow, this is gorgeous! I would totally go in the open chair lift. I had never heard of Anakeesta before now!
  6. Heather says
    I am SO glad you posted this. I had NO idea this gem was there. I see s trip in one very near future.
  7. Luci says
    Anakeesta is so beautiful. I might have to get my family together and go there the next holiday or the summer.
  8. Gladys Parker says
    Anakeesta Mountain sounds fun, even for me. I'd love to visit with my adult children and grandchildren. There is something for each of us one year to well, me. I love that something fun and entertaining within the mountains offers wheelchair and stroller access. For the 11 to 30's there is zipline.
  9. Elizabeth O says
    What an awesome place this seems like. It looks like a great experience for adventurers and the whole family. It would be a perfect location for a family getaway!
  10. Megan says
    This place looks absolutely stunning! I want to go to here <3 I'd never even heard of it!
  11. Rachel says
    This looks amazing. My family would love to go somewhere like this. I just want to be in the mountains.
  12. Ice Cream n Sticky Fingers says
    This is a beautiful area and I love that there is a day's full of things to do. The fairy garden stuff is too cute, I've always wanted to make a small fairy garden. Wow, that sundae looks delicious. I know that my boys would enjoy the tree house park too.
  13. Holly says
    Oh how fun...it looks like you had a blast. This is definitely a place worth visiting.
  14. Noelle Lynne says
    That tree canopy walk just look beautiful, I would love to visit and take part in this magical retreat!
  15. Jordan says
    Oh I would definitely go for the chairlift. The whole scenery looks absolutely outstanding.
  16. I should add this to my bucket-list. Anakeesta Mountain is a very nice place indeed! Thanks for sharing.
  17. Marielle Altenor says
    This would be the perfect place for a family weekend. Some shopping, sightseeing and lots of delicious food!
  18. Corina says
    Wow! This looks like such a cool village, I would so love to visit it someday! Hope I get the chance someday :)
  19. Twinspirational says
    Wow what a fun adventure. This place looks great and those view are amazing.
  20. Twinspirational says
    Wow what a fun adventure. This place looks great and those view are amazing.

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