This spring, Wilderness at the Smokies in Sevierville, Tenn., introduced a new addition to its Lake Wilderness Outdoor Waterpark that is sure to thrill the entire family. For me, The Wall waterslide resembles a roller coaster: It starts with the fun twists and turns common to most waterslides, before it drops riders (up to two per raft) down a steep hill. And, just like a roller coaster, the excitement doesn’t stop there. Riders zoom up a 35-foot vertical wall and splash back down into the pool below. The Wall leaves riders breathless and wanting more – at least it did for me!
The Wall is just one more in a number of thrilling water rides found at Wilderness at the Smokies. My favorite solo ride is the Wild Vortex. This waterslide will literally steal your breath. Riders start by standing up in a capsule at the top of the 66-foot tall ride. Then a trap door opens, dropping the rider into the slide and taking him or her on a 39-foot vertical free fall drop that generates a 2.5 g-force in less than two seconds. Before you know it, you are racing through the inclined loop at 40 miles per hour before coming to a stop in the splash pool at the bottom. This entire journey is over in just 7 seconds! The adrenaline rush from this ride easily propelled me back up the 100 steps to ride again!
For those who want to race their friends and family members, head to the Cyclone Racer, a four-lane, high-speed waterslide more than 50 feet high. Riders take their places in each lane, raft in hand, and, upon the lifeguard’s signal, take off in a race to the bottom. You’ll circle through the spiral before straightening out for a drag race to the end. Hopefully, you’ll be the one to finish first and walk away with bragging rights.
At Wilderness at the Smokies’ Wild Waterdome Indoor Waterpark, you’ll find more thrills. Grab three of your family members or friends, and head to Storm Chaser. For this waterslide, four people climb aboard a tube, and set off into a larger tunnel. My kids loved sliding back and forth up the sides of the tunnel, but they really loved it when we flew out of the tunnel and into the large funnel of water. We raced up the sides of the funnel, spinning round and round, before entering a smaller tunnel that took us into the splash pool at the bottom.
A close second, Runaway Canyon also features a four-person raft that takes riders through a five-story high waterslide with water curtains, 360-degree loops and a drop of almost 60 feet before landing in the splash pool at the bottom. This was also a favorite with my kids, who loved the ever-changing nature of the ride.
My kids also loved seeing who would finish first on the Trail Twister Tube Slides. These rides accommodate single and double riders as they twist and turn their way down the waterslide into the splash pool below. My son rode with me in the purple tube as my daughter raced us down in the yellow tube. Regardless of who finished first, we all came out laughing and ready to ride again.
Of course, Wilderness at the Smokies offers more low-key water attractions as well. At the Wild Waterdome Indoor Waterpark, visitors can ride the waves in The Great Wave, a 10,700-square-foot wave pool; try your hand at surfing on Smokies’ Surf Rider, or splash through Washout Mountain, a two-story play structure with 50 play-and-spray features, a body slide, a kiddy slide, and the highlight: a 750-gallon bucket that pours out over those standing below. For younger guests, there’s a mini version in the Flying Squirrel, a toddler area with two mini-slides and a swing tree.
Back outside at the Lake Wilderness Outdoor Waterpark, we loved taking it easy in Cataloochee Creek, a lazy river that circles the entire outdoor waterpark. My daughter especially loved getting caught up in the waterfalls and water sprays that are placed sporadically along the creek. There’s also Wilderness Rapids, a 12,000-square-foot wave pool where you can float at your leisure.
Needless to say, we had an awesome time at Wilderness at the Smokies. I especially loved retreating to our bunk suite at the end of the day. These guest rooms are uniquely divided with a privacy wall. On the end of the room that opens to a balcony or patio, you’ll find a queen bed, sleeper sofa and desk. In the middle next to the privacy wall, you’ll find bunk beds with a queen on the bottom and twin up top. There’s also a large counter with a microwave and sink, with a mini refrigerator below. And at the room’s entrance is the vanity and water/shower closet.
There’s even two TVs, each situated across from each queen bed. This allowed our kids to watch their shows, while my husband and I caught up on the news or our favorite sports teams. And the privacy wall meant that my late-night work with laptop in hand didn’t keep my kids awake.
Overall, my entire family loved everything the Wilderness at the Smokies has to offer, so much so that we can’t wait to return again. Hopefully, that will be sooner rather than later!
Disclosure: Karon and her family visited Wilderness at the Smokies as guests of the resort. All opinions expressed herein are expressly those of the author.