While North Carolina’s rolling Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains attract visitors from across the country for their tranquil beauty and opportunities for hiking, camping, rock climbing and fishing, they’re not necessarily a top destination for skiing like the Colorado Rockies or the Adirondacks.
That said, however, North Carolina skiing is ideal for beginner skiers, as well as for families with young children.
In Blowing Rock, Appalachian Mountain’s gentle trails, modest altitudes and instructor-led classes for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities and ages make for safe, fun skiing experiences for all. Rent all the equipment you need onsite, and if the kids are too little to ski, childcare is available.
For more experienced skiers, there are expert-level slopes, including three at Appalachian Mountain and several at the state’s tallest ski hill at Sugar Mountain, including the back diamond run, Whoopdedoo. With 120 skiable acres, Sugar Mountain also offers equipment rental, ski and snowboarding school for kids, private and group lessons, as well as opportunities for night skiing away from the crowds. Its Last Run Lounge is perfect for unwinding after a long day on the slopes.
At Cataloochee, near Maggie Valley, check out 16 trails suitable for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers. Beech Mountain—the highest altitude ski mountain in the state at 5,500 feet above ski level—boasts one of the coldest climates in the south, up to 60 inches of snowfall per year and offers diverse ski lessons, including ski racing classes and lessons for special needs skiers. For an intimate, affordable experience, check out the Sapphire Valley located in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. Sapphire Valley has two runs for beginner and intermediate skiers and no crowds.
Many of North Carolina’s resorts offer amenities for snowboarding, snow tubing and ice skating, and if the temperatures are too warm for natural snowfall, most even have their own snowmaking capabilities. Best of all, North Carolina ski resorts are close to home, just a three-to-five hour drive from Raleigh. Ski season in North Carolina lasts from Thanksgiving to mid-March; escaping to the state’s beautiful mountains is always a wonderful way to spend a winter weekend.
Appalachian Ski Mountain is celebrating more than 55 years of skiing in North Carolina. The resort includes 10 slopes, three terrain parks and a panoramic outdoor ice rink. The resort offers day and night skiing from mid-November to late March.
Beech Mountain is North Carolina’s largest ski resort village with 17 slopes, eight lifts and a 7,000 square-foot outdoor ice skating rink. It also includes a tubing park at the base of the slopes and a terrain park.
Cataloochee Ski area opened in 1961 and offers 14 slopes, five lifts, a terrain park and snow tubing park across the street.
Sapphire Valley Ski Area & Frozen Falls Tube Park is an integral part of a 5,700-acre, four-season resort nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, offering two slopes and three lifts.
Sugar Mountain Resort boasts the largest vertical drop (1,200 feet) in the state. The resort offers 21 slopes, eight lifts, a 10,000 square-foot ice-skating rink and a tubing park, as well as the only double black diamond trail in the state. skisugar.com
… near Appalachian Ski Mountain, Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain
Meadow Brook Inn
offers a relaxing mountain escape in the midst of some of the High Country’s most popular attractions. The boutique hotel features 62 cozy guest rooms and suites, with breakfast included.
Green Park Inn
is the last of the “Grand Manor Hotels” in western North Carolina, and remains the state’s second oldest operating resort hotel. Green Park offers guest rooms and suites, with breakfast included.
Banner Elk Inn
was The Shawneehaw Inn in a bygone era, but it is still romantic, charmingly restored and furnished with antiques collected from around the world. The inn offers traditional B & B accommodations as well as cottages and cabins.
… near Cataloochee Ski
The Cataloochee Ranch
is a historic resort in the western North Carolina mountains. Lodging choices range from guest rooms in the main Ranch House, to individual cabins that sleep from two to eight people, to the Silverbell Lodge, designed especially for larger gatherings.
… near Sapphire Valley Ski
Black Bear Lodge
is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains at a 3,200-foot elevation. All accommodations are two-room suites with full kitchens.