Reviews Travel

Wilderness at the Smokies – Fun Family Vacation Resort & Water Park

We were blessed with the opportunity to spend three fun and exhausting days at Wilderness at the Smokies Resort & Water Park, located in Sevierville, Tennessee while on vacation. This was our first family vacation with just us and the kids and it was also my first vacation to plan. I feel like an official grown up now that I have my first family vacation under my belt, haha.  Wilderness at the Smokies was the main reason we chose to visit the Smoky Mountain area instead of heading to the beach.  We wanted the children to be able to play in the water, but the ocean is big and scary when you have a 4 year old and a 2 year old.  So when a quick Google search brought up Wilderness at the Smokies- a family-friendly resort and water park, we knew we had found the perfect place for our family vacation.

Wilderness at the Smokies Water Parks

At Wilderness at the Smokies, you’ll find three water parks- one indoor and two outdoor.  As a mom, my favorite thing about the water parks is that they are beyond family friendly.  There is something for everyone so whether you have a 1 year old toddling around or a 16 year old you can’t keep up with, this is the place to have fun!  Bryson enjoys deeper water and fast slides.  Bella, on the other hand, wants to be able to touch and walk around while splashing.  They are total opposites, but that worked fine at Wilderness at the Smokies water parks because they were both covered!

Wilderness at the Smokie Wild Water Dome Indoor Waterpark

Wild Water Dome

We spent most of our time at the Wild Water Dome Indoor Waterpark.  Even when it was sprinkling rain outside, we were having fun inside!  Bryson and Justin tackled waves in the Great Wave pool and rode the huge slides which you can see from outside the resort while Bella and I spent most of our time on the Wilderness Resort play area and in the kiddie area.  The kiddie area is shallow so little one can walk, sit, and splash.  With a slide, seesaw, sprinklers, and swings, it’s perfect for toddlers.  The Wilderness Resort playground offers fun water shooters and a slide.  Toddlers and big kids enjoy it!

Wilderness at the Smokies Wild Water Dome Indoor Waterpark

Lake Wilderness

Lake Wilderness outdoor water park is connected to River Lodge.  It features a beach area, a lazy river, two slides, and cabanas for rent.  As with the other parks, you can choose to either kick back and relax or go wild with adventure.  Bryson and Bella are not big enough for the Wild Vortex or Cyclone Racer slides, so we enjoyed the beach area and the Cataloochee Creek Adventure River.  Bryson loved the Washout Wilderness Rapids outdoor wave pool so Justin would spend time with him tackling waves while Bella and I splashed in the beach area.

Wilderness at the Smokies Salamander Springs Outdoor Water Park

Salamander Springs

Salamander Springs is the only park not connected to River Lodge.  Instead, it is right across the street at Stone Hill Lodge.  Even so, a shuttle bus runs every 5 minutes so the wait is never long.  In fact, we didn’t wait at all during our stay.  Each time we walked out, the shuttle bus was there waiting for guests to board.  Salamander Springs was such a blast for Bryson and Bella!  The outdoor playground area featured all different kinds of sprinklers and things to play with along with a big slide for little ones.  Miss Bella climbed the stairs and went down the slide at least 50 times and then slept through dinner that night.  She was tired from so much fun!  You’ll also find slides for bigger kids, a pool, and a kiddie area at Salamander Springs.


Wilderness at the Smokies Salamander Springs Water

Wilderness at the Smokies Adventure Forest Arcade Bowling

Dry Play at Adventure Forest

Adventure Forest, a 25,000 sq. ft. dry family adventure area is a new addition to Wilderness at the Smokies.  You’ll find a huge arcade, mini golf, laser tag, bowling, a playground, rock climbing wall, and rides packed with fun and adventure.  The kids loved this area and Justin & I were happy to have a break from the water while the kids played.  We bowled, played arcade games and black light mini golf, and the kids spent a lot of time in the huge playground.  If you look up while in Adventure Forest, you’ll see a rope course filled with obstacles!

Wilderness at the Smokies Adventure Forest Playground

Kids Eat Free

On our first night, we enjoyed dinner at The Thirsty Miner Restaurant located inside the River Lodge resort.  We were looking for a quick dinner before heading back to the Wild Water Dome so The Thirsty  it was convenient.  Dinner at The Thirsty Miner is buffet-style with almost any kind of food you can imagine.  We were pleased with the selection as were Bryson and Bella.  Kid-friendly foods like corn dogs, chicken nuggets, and pizza ensure that children are fueled up before heading back to the water park!  For each adult buffet purchase ($18.99), a child under 11 eats free.

There are several other snack bars and restaurants on site, but not all offer the kids eat free deal.  Be sure to research ahead of your visit so you can plan for meals or else you have fussy kids and well, that just isn’t fun!

Wilderness at the Smokies River Lodge Room Details

Wilderness at the Smokies Lodging

We stayed at River Lodge which is connected to both the Wild Water Dome Indoor Park and the Lake Wilderness Outdoor Park.  Our room had a cabin feel to it with rustic details, but modern amenities.  Two flat screens TVs helped keep the kids calm and entertained while we were in the room at night.  A small refrigerator, sink, and microwave offered space for us to make lunch during the day and store snacks.  The shower featured a pull-out clothes line which I thought was brilliant even if we didn’t notice it until we were packing to leave, haha.  Our only complaint was that the bottom sheet on the beds was not a fitted sheet, so Justin and I both wrestled with it throughout the nights.

Wilderness at the Smokies River Lodge Bunk Room

Wilderness at the Smokies Details

A few things you may want to know:

  • Lifejackets are provided, so don’t worry about bringing your own.  We carried Bryson & Bella’s because we weren’t sure if we’d like the ones offers, but we did and ended up leaving our lifejackets in the room.
  • The buffet is the same each night at The Thirsty Miner, so if you like variety, you may not want to eat there two nights in a row.  We had planned to dine there both nights of our stay until we realized it was the same food.  The food is good, but it’s vacation and we like to try new and different things!
  • Your waterpark passes are included with your stay, but you’ll have to purchase passes to Adventure Forest separately.  I suggest the all-stay pass!
  • Lockers are available for rent at the waterparks.  We paid $10 to keep a locker for the entire stay, but you can choose to pay daily and receive some of your money back when you turn in your key.
  • Don’t worry about bringing towels, those are provided too!  You’ll receive towel cards which you can use throughout your stay to get fresh towels at the waterparks.
  • If you arrive before check in, you can go ahead and get passes to the water park and begin having fun!
  • On your check out day, you can still spend the entire day enjoying the water parks and adventure forest.  Don’t be in a rush to leave just because you have to check out of your room.

Wilderness at the Smokies


You can often find rooms starting at $99 per night plus taxes and fees.  With everything offered at Wilderness at the Smokies Resort & Waterpark, their prices are more than reasonable.  I can say, without a doubt, that we’ll be headed back to Wilderness at the Smokies Resort and Waterpark as often as possible.  It is a perfect family friendly vacation destination whether you have tots or teenagers!

We received a complimentary stay at Wilderness at the Smokies, but all thoughts and opinions remain my own, as always.


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