One of our favorite towns, Gatlinburg, has tons of family-friendly activities. Today we’re looking at the options for water parks in the area!
Indoor and Outdoor Water Parks in Gatlinburg
Gatlinburg is a small mountain valley city and a great place for a family vacation! And while there’s no large outdoor water parks in downtown Gatlinburg, several resorts feature fantastic indoor water parks that offer year-round fun.
And if you’re looking for the excitement of larger outdoor water parks, a 20-minute drive from Gatlinburg takes you to Pigeon Forge. Here, you’ll find a couple of huge outdoor water parks. So here are the aquatic adventures awaiting you in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas as we explore things in this order:
Large Outdoor Water Parks Near Gatlinburg
Soaky Mountain is our top pick for a large outdoor water park. Our kids gave it a narrow edge over Splash Country.
Soaky Mountain Waterpark is just up the road from Gatlinburg in Pigeon Forge. This waterpark opened its gates in 2020, providing a thrilling and refreshing escape from the summer heat.
Spread across a sprawling 50-acre area; this waterpark is one of the cleaner water parks we’ve been to.
The park’s signature ride, the Avalaunch, is a water coaster that defies the typical boundaries of aquatic fun. Black Bear Rapids offers an enjoyable journey down a lazy river with some big waves. The Soaky Surge, a massive 35,000 sq. ft. wave pool, serves as the park’s center.
Dollywood’s Splash Country
Our family gets Dollywood season passes every year, but Dollywood is also home to the Dollywood Splash Country. We prefer Splash Country’s established, shady layout over Soaky Mountain, but the rides aren’t as new.
It’s a great addition to adjacent Dollywood on a hot day, and our family has annual passes for both.
Our recommendation is if you have to pick one water park, to try out Soaky Mountain, which we give the win to. Splash Country is a great option if you’re also visiting the Dollywood theme park.
Indoor Water Park Resorts in Gatlinburg
Here’s a list of Gatlinburg’s best resorts with indoor water parks.
There’s a fantastic range of Gatlinburg hotels, and we also list the best places to stay in downtown on another post.
The Holiday Inn Club Vacations is one of our favorites. Located just south of the parkway (About a 6-minute walk), the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Smoky Mountain Resort offers easy access to the best of Gatlinburg.
One of the main attractions of this resort is the indoor water park it shares with the Holiday Inn Express Gatlinburg Downtown (Check prices on both hotels, as they’re connected), promising a splash of fun for all. Each unit at this resort features a kitchen, making it perfect for longer stays.
The resort’s small indoor water park, Splash Hollow, makes a big splash with slides and a kids’ zone, providing year-round fun even during winter.
Holiday Inn Express Gatlinburg Downtown
Holiday Inn Express Gatlinburg Downtown is a fantastic choice for families.
About a 6-minute walk south of the parkway, the main attraction of this hotel is the indoor water park, which you get access to as a resort guest.
The water playground is shared with the Club Vacations resort above. Make sure to check prices on both hotels, as they’re both connected to the water park. The Club Vacations resort also may be a better fit for long-term stays.
The hotel also provides a complimentary breakfast, perfect for fuelling up for a day of adventure.
Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Water Park
On Westgate Rd, you’ll find the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Water Park tucked away in the Smoky Mountains of Gatlinburg. This resort is a great place that offers guests exclusive access to an impressive indoor water park that’s open year-round, Wild Bear Falls Water Park.
This water park has exciting indoor water tube slides, a lazy river, and hot tubs.
Why is it in third place? Recent reviews have been not as good, and it’s not within walking distance of all the things to do in downtown Gatlinburg.
Park Vista by Doubletree
Park Vista features a slightly smaller indoor water park. Perched atop a hill, Park Vista is a hotel with stunning views of the Smoky Mountains. The hotel offers spacious rooms with private balconies to soak the mountain vistas.
While a great hotel, the Park Vista is further down the list because its location is further from downtown. Getting downtown would take about 25 minutes of walking.
The amenities here are top-notch, including an indoor pool with a water park, perfect for when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. The resort also has a fitness center and an onsite restaurant. The hotel’s unique circular design ensures every room has a great view.
Resort Water Parks Close to Gatlinburg
While these resorts are closer to Pigeon Forge, they’re still great options if you don’t mind a bit of a drive to Gatlinburg or prefer to stay in the Pigeon Forge surrounding area.
Governor’s Crossing offers spacious, clean rooms and an outdoor water park area has two separate park areas. The pools and water slides are great summer attractions for kids.
Govenor’s Crossing has a great location and an indoor water park.
One notable convenience is the availability of a full-size kitchen and a washer and dryer in some rooms, providing a homey feel for longer stays. This is a great perk for families who prefer the flexibility of self-catering during their vacation.
Wilderness at the Smokies Waterpark Resort
Wilderness at the Smokies Waterpark Resort, located a short drive from Gatlinburg, is Tennessee’s largest indoor waterpark. While the hotel itself gets mixed reviews, the indoor water park is one of the best.
Wild WaterDome Indoor Waterpark is an adventure-filled destination open all year, featuring a recent expansion that’s doubled its fun quotient.
This waterpark, nestled within the Wilderness at the Smokies, now boasts more rides, cabanas, and significantly more family enjoyment. The highlight of this expansion includes the Ridge Runner Watercoaster and Kaleidoscope Kaverns Lazy River, alongside an innovative see-through roof that floods the park with natural sunlight, promoting tanning and the growth of tropical plants throughout the year.
Attractions and Features
- Ridge Runner Watercoaster: Experience the world’s first slide with Reverse AquaLucent effects, offering a thrilling ride with colorful patterns and special effects.
- Kaleidoscope Kavern Lazy River: Immerse yourself in a visually stunning lazy river surrounded by kaleidoscopic lighting.
- Storm Chaser Thrill Ride: A daring waterslide with a drop into a zero-gravity fall.
- Great Wave Wavepool: Enjoy 10,000 square feet of wave-pool fun, suitable for all ages.
- Runaway Canyon: A family raft ride through 450 feet of tunnels and turns.
- Washout Mountain: A multi-leveled play structure with slides and water features.
The Country Cascades Waterpark Resort has carved out a reputation as a family-friendly destination in Pigeon Forge, just north of Gatlinburg.
However, like any resort, the amenities make the stay truly memorable. The resort’s Splashaway Bay water park has water features like open and closed slides and dump buckets.
The resort seems to hit the mark when it comes to family vacations. Guests have repeatedly highlighted the friendly and accommodating staff as a key part of their positive experience. The front desk staff, in particular, were noted for their helpfulness, making check-in and check-out processes smooth and easy.
In summary, the Country Cascades Waterpark Resort is a great choice for families looking for a fun and convenient place to stay in Gatlinburg. This resort seems to be a hit with clean rooms, a great location, and a friendly staff.
Favorite Outdoor Water Park Resort in Gatlinburg
Our top choice is Margaritaville. Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg is a 4-star resort located on the main parkway (Hwy 441) in Gatlinburg.
We have stayed at this resort several times, and while it’s not the cheapest resort in Gatlinburg, it’s by far our favorite. It’s the first resort we check when making reservations for us or friends and family.
This resort offers spacious rooms, an outdoor swimming pool with slides, an indoor pool, a fitness center, and even real parrots. The Margaritaville restaurant is on-site (well, just outside the resort), and a smaller bar serves drinks and snacks by the pool.
The resort’s convenient location across the street from Anakeesta makes it a perfect base for exploring the best of Gatlinburg.
Whether you’re visiting during the heat of summer or in the cooler months, water parks in Gatlinburg, TN, are a great way to keep the fun flowing on your family vacation. With options ranging from indoor to outdoor and everything in between, Gatlinburg offers something for everyone.