Let me start this out by saying this: ATVing is NOT something I’ve ever wanted to do. Ever. It seems like a terrible idea to put me on my own four-wheel vehicle and let me ride up and down mountains and across streams.
Here’s the back story: My brother-in-law really wanted to go ATVing. So, for his birthday, my sister-in-law got the whole family to meet in Gatlinburg for a weekend last summer. The guys were to go ATVing in the afternoon on Saturday. They booked a trip. But when they got there for the trip with Bluff Mountain Adventures in Pigeon Forge, the trip had been overbooked. (Apparently, this is really, really rare, and they were quite horrified that it had happened.)
The money was refunded, of course, but we also got passes for four free trips in the mail. They lasted a year.
Fast-forward to this year. Not all of the family can make it back down to use the passes. So my sister-in-law decides that she and I will go with our husbands.
This seems like a very bad idea to me. In fact, I just plain don’t want to do it.
But … the passes are free and expiring. And I just happen to write this little blog … the info would be really useful.
Of course, I decided to go. BUT I WAS TERRIFIED!
In fact, the first thing I said to the guy who had us pick out helmets was, “Am I going to die?”
So that’s the story. Read on to find out if I was bodily injured or killed from the trip. Here are the results of our ATVing trip with Bluff Mountain Adventures:
First, the particulars:
- Location: Ticket office is at 2186 Parkway in Pigeon Forge.
- Price: Family Introductory Ride (1 hour in foothills): $50.95 for adults, less for kids; Mountain Trail Adventure (this is the ride we took! One and a half hours up to the top of the bluff): $65.95 for adults, no kids. There are a lot of other options — check out the pricing page here.
- Kids: Kids must be 12 years old to operate their own ATV; younger can go as a passenger, but must be 4’9″ tall.
- What to wear: Wear old clothes and solid shoes. No open-toed shoes allowed. Helmets and eye protection are required for all, but are provided.
Believe it or not, I was FINE! And not only that, this turned out to be a FABULOUS time! I absolutely LOVED it! In fact, we’ve now traveled the Smokies in several ways, including mountain biking, horseback riding, and this. And this was, by far, my favorite. It was incredible! I MUST do it again! Here are some specifics:
- It’s expensive, but it’s worth it. Our guide kept us out longer than the hour and a half that our passes were for. We were the only four on our trip. And our guide was GREAT! He was funny, but serious enough to make me feel safe. He stopped several times for photo ops, and took us up high enough to see THREE DIFFERENT STATES! How cool is that?
- Level of ride depends on driver comfortable-ness. I was so nervous. So they put me right behind the guide. I felt so safe the whole time. I totally felt in control of the vehicle. I had no problems. I stayed right with the guide, at a safe distance. Of course, I could not see the rest of the group behind me. I found out later that the guys would fall way behind, then go super fast to catch up. They skidded up mountains and were dangerously close to losing control on the way down. I think they took a completely different ride than I did.
Terrain is so great! We knew from the Internet description that at some point, we’d get to go across a stream. But we sure weren’t expecting to ride right down one. But we did! It was SO great, though I was nervous that I was going to float away. Really, really fun. Of course, making the steep climbs was fun, too. And most of the group enjoyed the going down, though I really held back on that!
- Perfect for a rainy day. Yes, they run in the rain. It rained the whole weekend we were in the Smokies, so we had no choice. It was COLD, too. Of course, all that added to my overall apprehensive-ness about the trip. But it was great! The ATV really keeps you pretty warm, and we were having so much fun that we didn’t even notice how cold we were. And since we were already wet, the guide took us up the stream, and across all kinds of fun water features. So fun! I think our small group size was due to rain, too. Also, there is a water-proof container on each ATV, which is super nice, for phones, etc. I stuck my camera in there, so I could record the trip.
I cannot emphasize well enough how great this experience was. It was SO MUCH FUN! I really, really think you should try it. I totally want to go again, and I can’t wait until the kids are old enough to do this with us.
But, of course, there is a downside. And it’s a doozy.
You cannot book your trip online. Or by the phone. Seriously.
So, you cannot plan ahead on this one. You cannot know for sure when you are going or what time will be available. Or even IF anything will be available. Which is a major bummer.
So you have to drive to the ticket office in the morning, book the trip, and then later head up the mountain to the spot where you actually go on the trip.
This may not seem like the end of the world. But it can be a real pain. Consider: traffic in summer in Pigeon Forge makes you want to pull your hair out anyway. Last year, the whole family was together for Saturday only. The boys were going ATVing in the afternoon, we hoped, but we had the rest of the day together.
By the time the boys drove to the ticket office in Pigeon Forge (we were staying at a campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — past Gatlinburg) and got reservations, then drove back, the entire morning was gone. We had time for a very quick lunch, then they had to leave again for the long trip up into the mountains (it took close to an hour from where we were), only to find out that their trip was overbooked. Basically, our entire Saturday was ruined by Adventure Bluff and its inability to book online.
Now, I must say that their customer service was great. They gave the refund and sent the free passes. They were so sorry.
But we’d spent the ENTIRE day doing nothing! It was so frustrating.
So be aware before you go that you can’t book in advance. I don’t know why. But this is their hard and fast rule. And it needs to change.
But beyond that one point, Adventure Bluff does an incredible job! The second trip went without a hitch! Perfect! We LOVED it!
Thanks for an incredible adventure! And for helping me overcome my fears!