Operating the only ski area in Tennessee is no easy task and the year 2020 brought a great deal of uncertainty to the ski area industry. Despite all the uncertainty coming out of 2020, Ober Gatlinburg is having one of the best ski seasons in years. We have a temperature independent snow making system, Snow Magic, that allows us to pile up snow early in the season regardless of the temperature. SnowMagic is a critical part of our operation during early season. It allowed us to have snow on the ground and host our 11th Annual Back in Blue Rail Jam on November 20th, where we saw record participation turn out. Our snowtubing park opened the next day before any ski area/resort in the Southeast was able to offer outdoor snowtubing.
Thanks to below average temperatures, we were able to open our ski slopes to the public on Friday, December 4th. We opened with 1 surface lift, two aerial lifts, and 5 trails: Castle Run, Cub Way, Mogul Ridge, Upper Bear, and Ski School. This has been the earliest we have opened our ski slopes since the 2013/14 ski season when we opened on November 29th, 2013. We have been open for skiing/riding every day since December 4th.
Since we started making snow on November 29th, 2020 we have pumped 37 million gallons of water through our snow guns allowing us to build a deep base of snow across our slopes, ensuring the best conditions even on warmer days. We have 4 reservoirs across the mountain that captures rain and melted snow runoff allowing us to recycle water from the property and put back on the slopes. The snow guns blow micro-sized water particle out of the guns and the small droplets freeze instantly falling to the ground as snow. The outside temperature must be below freezing for our snow guns to operate.
We are now skiing into the month March and March 14, 2021 will mark our 100th day of skiing/riding this season. Also on Sunday March 14th we will host our Spring Fling Event which will feature a SkiMo Race, Downhill Race, Pond Skim, Big Air Jump, and a High Ollie contest. Wednesday March 17th we will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in true Irish fashion with live music slope side, corned beef cabbage, and green beer! The month of March is a great time to visit Ober Gatlinburg as there are less crowds and great weather. Visitors coming during the month can expect mild temperatures in the day followed by cool temperatures at night so make sure to bring layers to bundle up in the morning and shed some layers in the afternoon. We hope to see you this spring at Ober Gatlinburg!