Anakeesta – Astra Lumina


Nestled on the Great Smoky Mountain tops in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Anakeesta is an outdoor family theme park centered on celebrating the natural beauty of the Appalachians. The word Anakeesta means “place of high ground,” in the Cherokee language. Like its name, the park is a tribute to local, historical culture, celebrating the views and experiences of the Smokies that have been enjoyed since native times. 

However, the trick is to effectively bring that culture to life, which is why Hearthstone Homes was chosen to help realize the project. Hearthstone is long-time protector and recreator of historical Appalachian architecture, and so when Anakeesta needed timbers, the park owner’s knew just where to turn. 

Last year, Anakeesta opened their expansion “Astra Lumina,” which is a lighted exhibit on the stars visible from the southern Appalachian mountains. Dotting the path all the way around the observatory grounds are 14-foot western red cedar light posts crafted by Hearthstone Homes. The posts are antique hewn and stained to compliment their natural color. Additionally, Hearthstone constructed the Astra Lumina ticket booths, sound stage, and pavilion from Douglas fir timbers. 

Hearthstone’s presence in the park helps tie the modern attraction to the ancient mystique and majesty of the foothills that Hearthstone has spent half a century capturing for its clients. 

This year, the park is undergoing a $34 million dollar expansion to double the park’s size. The newest expansion, “Bird Venture,” is under construction, and Hearthstone Homes continues contributing to the growth of the park, which will now include the roller coaster, Hellbender. Hearthstone has been charged with crafting the entry sign to Birdventure, the coaster station for Hellbender, as well as the retail store that will be featured in the new expansion.