SMOKY MOUNTAIN WATERPARKS AND WATERFALLS
Splash some water onto your summer vacation plans and the whole family will be happily refreshed. Whether your goal is to get drenched or stay dry, experience thrills or commune with nature, the waterparks and waterfalls of Sevierville, Tennessee never disappoint.
Soaky Mountain Waterpark a massive, 50-acre outdoor waterpark with more than 19 attractions that opened mid-summer in 2020—officially opens for the 2021 season on May 15 and 16, then daily starting May 22. Adventures include “Avalaunch,” a first-of-its-kind watercoaster with a drop-and-dive sensation, curved wave wall, and a whitewater finish; “Soaky Surge,” a massive wave pool with six-foot tall waves; the “Whoop & Holler” body slide with a drop-away floor for a plummet into the splash zone; “Hang 10essee,” a double FlowRider surfing simulator; “Blue Mountain Mayhem,” a raft waterslide with two gravity-challenging walls for a feeling of weightlessness; and “Rainbow Revenge,” a raft waterslide with dazzling effects, among many more options for fun-seekers of all ages. Kiddie options include “The Hive,” a play-and-spray feature, and “Boomers Bay,” a pool area with smaller versions of some of the park’s towering slides. New this year, Yukon Frozen Yogurt in the Candy Cabin building offers refreshing, build-your-own frozen treats. New Summit Snacks food carts in the main plaza area sell nachos, pretzels, popcorn, hot dogs, novelty ice cream, cookies, fresh-squeezed lemonade, beer, bottled water, Icees, and fountain drinks. Frozen margaritas, daiquiris, piña coladas, and other adult beverages are now available at two bars. Twelve new mini cabanas big enough for two are now available for rent.
Wilderness at the Smokies —a full-service resort with 713 rooms, suites, and villas—is home to Tennessee’s largest indoor waterpark plus two outdoor waterparks for abundant thrills year-round. Slide 55 feet down a dark tunnel before dropping through a zero-gravity swirling funnel. Experience a body-surfing simulator with five-foot waves. Speed through various tube slides. Ride a raft through the five-story “Runaway Canyon.” Get wet in the multi-level “Washout Mountain.” Outside, race down the Southeast’s only near-vertical translucent looping body waterslide. Swoosh down the state’s largest waterslide and rush through water curtains, tunnels, and loops. Entertain young children in “Treehouse Springs” with a zero-depth wading pool dotted with sprinklers, bubblers, geyser jets, waterfall splashes, dump buckets, and a treehouse tower with three slides. Towel off and try the three-story ropes course with cargo nets, balance beams, and mid-air lily pads. There’s also a 23-foot rock climbing wall, a nine-hole mini golf course with black lights, six lanes of miniature bowling, a laser tag maze, the region’s largest interactive playhouse, more than 100 arcade games, multi-level laser tag, and much more.
The Resort at Governor's Crossing offers indoor and outdoor waterparks at its family-oriented resort. The outdoor area, which opened for the 2021 season on March 5, offers an 80-foot water slide, 250-foot lazy river, supersized swimming pool, children’s pool with interactive water features, log roll, outdoor whirlpool, and sun deck. “Adventure Springs,” has a large play structure that pumps over 1,500 gallons of water a minute. There’s a dual racing slide, enclosed slide, 300-gallon dump bucket, and over 30 interactive play features. Indoors, slip down two big water speed slides, wade into the zero-entry pool, or play water basketball and water volleyball. Watch your little ones interact in the toddler splash and play zone. Soak in the 20-person hot tub. Relax in the Finnish dry sauna where temperatures can approach 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Swim or jog against the jet-propulsion current in the Badu SwimJet. Beyond the water, “Firefly Cove” offers fire pits with comfortable seating, a playground, hammock relaxation zone, and picnic grounds with grills. The Resort also offers a new nine-hole mini golf course, pirate ship playground, two arcades, and a walking trail. New this year, “Popsicle Patrol” offers free frozen treats around the waterparks between 2:45 and 3:15 p.m. daily. Daily activities are also hosted.
Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park is home to 150 acres of excitement including a climbing wall, swinging bridge, and zip-line course. There’s also a one-mile trail to a waterfall, a photogenic reward on this easy, out-and-back hike.
Looming adjacent to Sevierville, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers hundreds of miles of trails in old-growth forests with abundant waterfalls Large waterfalls draw crowds, but smaller cascades can be found on nearly every river and stream in the park. For details and trail maps, stop by one of the park’s four visitor centers (Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, Cades Cove, or Clingmans Dome). Among our favorite waterfalls within the park’s Tennessee borders near Sevierville:
- Rainbow Falls is an 80-foot waterfall that in winter occasionally freezes into an hourglass shape. The namesake trail reaches the falls in 2.7 miles; turn around after snapping photos or continue up to the summit of Mount Le Conte for a total of 6.7 miles before turning back.
- The Hen Wallow Falls trail (a short side-trail off Gabes Mountain Trail) is a moderate trek to a 95-foot waterfall that fans out to 20 feet wide across the bottom. At 4.4 miles roundtrip, the trail meanders through old-growth forest thick with hemlock and rhododendron.
- The Middle Prong Trail follows the route of an old logging railroad. The 8.3-mile roundtrip trek passes multiple waterfalls, including Indian Flats Falls and Lower Lynn Camp Falls, a 35-foot, multi-tiered cascade, plus several small cascades. Seasonal clumps of violets, crested dwarf iris, wood sorrel, trilliums and other wildflowers bloom near the trail.
- Abrams Falls is one of the park’s most voluminous waterfalls with a 20-foot drop over a rocky cliff into a long, deep pool at its base. The well-worn trail is a moderate five-miles round-trip and follows alongside Abrams Creek much of the way while passing through pine, hemlock, and rhododendron forest.
- Grotto Falls is a 25-foot-high cascade on the Trillium Gap Trail that meanders through old-growth hemlock forest. Seasonal wildflowers flank the three-mile route. Rated moderate, this hike offers the park’s only opportunity to walk behind a waterfall, but step with caution since the ground is always wet and slick.
- Laurel Falls is a gorgeous 80-foot-high cascade with an upper and lower section divided by a walkway over a stream. One of the park’s most popular hikes, this 2.6-mile trail climbs 314 feet in elevation.
- Dropping 100 feet over rock outcroppings, Ramsey Cascades is the park’s tallest waterfall. The 4-mile trail follows rushing rivers and streams most of the way. Its last two miles pass through some of the park’s largest old-growth forest with large tuliptrees, basswoods, silverbells, and yellow birches. The area houses some of the park’s largest trees including the third-tallest red maple (141 feet), the second-tallest white oak (123 feet), and the tallest black cherry (146 feet).
- Hike or drive to Upper Meigs Falls, which is nestled on the far side of Little River. A pull-off is located along Little River Road between Sugarlands Visitor Center and the Townsend Wye. The 15-foot waterfall sits on Meigs Creek and drops into a small pool shaded by rhododendron. Nearby is The Sinks, a small but powerful cascade that falls into swirling water, creating the visual impression that water is draining as if from a sink.
Hike smart and stay safe. Grab a trail guide at a Visitor Center, follow trail makers, and stay on the trails. Plan ahead and wear clothing and footwear appropriate for hiking. Be sure to bring water.
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There’s no doubt some of your best summer memories involve running through the sprinkler or swimming at the local pool with friends. Summer just isn’t summer without getting a little wet. This year you can kick your summer fun up a notch with a trip to one of these outdoor or indoor water parks in TN. Thankfully, with so many indoor options, the family-fun can continue all year long!
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Indoor Water Parks in TN
Wild Bear Falls Water Park, Gatlinburg
With a rustic mountain theme, this quirky water park features classic attractions named after iconic Smoky Mountain favorites, like Clingman’s Dome and Cades cove. This park boasts several water slides, a lazy river, swimming pool, kids’ zone, and more!
Although the park is located inside the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort, you do not have to be staying at the resort to enjoy the water park. Day and week passes can be purchased separate from hotel rooms.
Wilderness at the Smokies, Sevierville
This resort boasts an incredible 3 water parks. Lake Wilderness and Salamander Springs are outdoors, while Wild Waterdome is entirely inside. This resort prides itself on having the largest indoor water park around!
Each individual park boasts a large kids’ area, plenty of water slides, and a swimming pool. There is also a lazy river, indoor surf riding attraction, raft rides and more! All kids’ zones have spray and rain features, dump buckets, slides, and wading areas.
You do not have to be staying at the resort to enjoy the park. Day and week passes are available for non-resort guests, although they are subject to availability.
The Resort at Govenor’s Crossing, Sevierville
This location features both indoor and outdoor water attractions, including a lazy river, indoor and outdoor water slides, 3 kids areas, and more!
The water park is reserved for resort guests only. If you’re local, there’s no reason why you can’t treat yourself to a little 1 night stay.
Holiday Inn Vacation Club, Gatlinburg
This popular hotel offers indoor and outdoor swimming pools, but the main attraction is its small indoor water park called Splash Hollow. Splash Hollow is geared towards kids and features sprayers, rain features, slides, dump buckets and more!
All water attractions at the vacation club are reserved for hotel guests.
SoundWaves at Gaylord Opryland, Nashville
This attraction is everything you would expect from a Gaylord resort. SoundWaves features both indoor and outdoor water attractions, including a large activity pool with an obstacle course and rock climbing for the adventure enthusiast. It also boasts 11 amazing water slides, a lazy river, wave pool, rapid riding attraction, and so much more!
They haven’t forgotten the kiddos, who have their own zone packed full of spray and rain features, slides, dump buckets, and more! There are also 2 adults only zones for those looking for a little peace and quiet.
This resort also features onsite shopping and dining options, and is known for their stunning holiday decor and seasonal events, like ICE.
Day passes are only offered for this park, if room allows. This helps to ensure a great family-fun experience for their hotel guest who have booked the SoundWave experience.
KROC Center, Memphis
This local community center has a ton to offer, with a large swimming pool, lazy river, water slide, kid’s area, outdoor splash pad, and more! This is a members only facility, but members are allowed to bring guests.
Outdoor Water Parks in Tennessee
Dollywood Splash Country, Sevierville
Nestled within the lush scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee’s largest water park truly has something for everyone, including amazing views!
The park decor is classically county with rustic buildings and natural landscaping. Splash County’s most popular attractions include the lazy river, wave pool, Raging River Rapids, and River Rush, TN’s only water coaster. There is also a large variety of water slides for the more adventurous crowd.
Of course, the kids haven’t been forgotten. They have their own areas called Little Creek Falls and The Cascades. These areas boast a variety of spray and rain features, slides, dump buckets, and more!
Admission can be purchased by the day or via seasonal membership. You can also get combo passes, which combine entry with Dollywood.
Soaky Mountain Water Park, Sevierville
This popular new addition has over 10 different water slide attractions, a wave pool, rapids tubing ride, surfing, and more.
In addition to the traditional kids’ splash zones, this water park also offers several mini versions of their larger thrill rides. These are perfect for little swimmers looking for a big adventure!
As an added bonus, a one day admission ticket is a few bucks cheaper than other local options. Every dollar counts right?
Country Cascades Water Park, Pigeon Forge
Located in one of Pigeon Forge’s newest resorts, this mini outdoor water park features a large swimming pool, two water slides, and a great kids’ area called Splashaway Bay. The bay has a variety of spray features, slides, dump buckets, and more!
Admission is reserved for resort guest and is included at no additional cost. Their affordable room rates make this a great deal for visiting or local families.
Wetlands Water Park, Jonesborough
Small but mighty, this local favorite features several different water slides, a lazy river, wading pools, kids area, and more! In addition to their regular water park features, this attraction also hosts special events throughout the season, such as outdoor movies and praise nights.
Admission can be purchased by the day or via a seasonal membership. The facility also offers party packages for your next birthday or special occasion.
Kingsport Aquatic Center, Kingsport
Managed by the city of Kingsport, this is a community recreation center on steroids. This mini water park features a large swimming pool, lazy river, 2 water slides, kids’ splash zone, and more! There are also 3 large indoor pools, which are open year round.
This facility offers a variety of classes year round, and several different birthday party packages. Admission can be purchased by the day, or via seasonal and year-round memberships.
Nashville Shores, Nashville
With a scenic view of Percy Priest Lake, this fun attraction features 8 water slides, 3 pools, a kids area, and natural lake swimming. Lake rentals like jet skis and pontoon boats are also available. For families who would like to stay onsite, there are camp sites and cabin rentals.
Both day and season passes are available for purchase. Camping, cabins, lake rentals, and zip lining cost extra.
Wave County, Nashville
Though smaller, this park is perfect for an affordable day of water fun. It features a large wave pool and several water slides. Although day passes are offered, you can purchase a seasonal membership for as low as $50 per person.
SOAKya Water Park, Rossville, GA
Located just outside of Chattanooga. this fun park features multiple water slides, a flume ride, lazy river, kids’ area, and more! This water park is also attached to Lake Winnie Amusement Park which features roller coasters and other thrill rides.
One ticket gets you full access to both parks. Both day and season passes are available.
Jewish Community Center, Memphis
This amazing community center packs a mighty punch! It boasts a lazy river, 2 mega water slides, large zero entry swimming pool, splash pad area, and island play area featuring sprayers, slides, and water features for kids.
This water park is open to members only, but members are allowed to bring guests.
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