North Carolina Ski Resorts are the perfect place for southerners to experience the fun of snow skiing or snowboarding close to home.
Resorts like Sugar Mountain, Beech Mountain, Appalachian, Cataloochee (better known as Maggie Valley NC), Sapphire Valley NC, and Wolf Ridge, utilize snow making machines, so even if there isn’t any of the white stuff at home, there is bound to be skiing in North Carolina.
If you don’t snow ski, there is also plenty to do off the slopes, like snow tubing in NC at places like Hawks Nest.
North Carolina Ski Resorts
The best part about North Carolina ski resorts is a plane ticket isn’t needed in order for a southerner to go skiing. There are several ski resorts in NC, each with its own unique qualities. No need to worry about the weather, all the resorts have invested in large snow guns, so as long as nights are below 32 degrees, they can create a winter wonderland on the slopes and you can ski North Carolina. Here’s what you can expect at Sugar, Beech Mountain, Appalachian, Cataloochee, Sapphire Valley NC, and Wolf Ridge.
Sugar Mountain Ski Resort, Sugar Mountain NC:
Sugar Mountain offers 115 skiable acres and 21 trails, the most of the any North Carolina ski resorts. It also offers the only double black diamond trail in the state of North Carolina. But don’t think Ski Sugar is only for experts. There are trails for every level and several green runs for novice skiers. SkiSugar also has a magic carpet to take beginners up the bunny slope easily, but watch out for the lift disembarking, it’s a steep slope, much more so than I’ve seen elsewhere. Sugar also offers the most wintertime fun off the slopes. Sugar Mountain Resort has a beautiful ice rink and a tubing hill down from the ski lodge.
You pass Sugar on the way up to Beech Mountain. To check the Sugar Mountain weather and learn about up-to-the-minute Sugar Mountain Resort snow conditions, visit the Surgar website. If you’d like to stay on property, check out the Sugar Mountain lodging options. There are lodging types for every taste including hotel rooms, bed and breakfasts, to condominiums and rental homes, however none of the these options are ski in, ski out.
Beech Mountain Ski Resort has the highest elevation of any ski North Carolina resort with 16 trails and 95 skiable acres. It also boasts the only high-speed quad lift to get skiers up the mountain fast. When mother nature doesn’t provide the snow, Beech Mountain Resort will make it. They have 14 new SMI pole cats to allow for faster snow making. You can keep up with Beech Mountain resort snow conditions online.
Ski Beech is the only one of the three resorts to have a shopping area in addition to a pro shop in the lodge. The Alpine Village is located at the base of the slopes. There are several shops and eateries in the village, including a gift shop, bar and grill, bakery and apparel. In the center of the Alpine Village is a 7,000 square foot ice skating rink and a large fire pit. Beech Mountain ski resort recently brought back a snow tubing park in the Alpine Village, at the base of the slopes. Chutes are up to 700 feet long, for a exhilarating ride. A magic carpet conveyer makes it easy to get up the hill, saving your energy for the squeals of delight as you fly down. If you’d rather go old school, a short drive from the slopes at the center of town is the Beech Mountain North Carolina free sledding hill for kids 12 and under. It sits next to the visitor’s bureau with clean indoor bathrooms. Bring your own sled, or get one from Fred’s Mercantile located close to the hill.
App Ski Mtn. strikes me as the best place for first timers and those learning. The French Swiss Ski College is one of the best in the state and has taught over a million people how to ski. The mountain itself is very compact. It’s a short walk from the parking lot to the lodge, so it’s not too big a deal if you have to go back to your car (or if you want to bring a picnic). Although all the slopes have high powered snow guns App Ski Mtn. has some of the best snow making capabilities of the resorts. As long as temperatures are low enough, they can blanket the mountain in short order. For beginners, they offer a magic carpet moving sidewalk to take you to the top of the bunny slope, so much easier than the old rope tows they had when I was a kid. The slopes themselves are not as steep as other resorts, so it’s perfect for a beginner to get in a longer run without being intimidated. If you have someone that doesn’t want to ski, they have a nice ice skating rink that is cleaned by a Zamboni next to the lodge and voted one of the best ice rinks for families by Trekaroo. The lodge itself has free wi-fi.
Cataloochee ski resort is in Maggie Valley North Carolina in the Western Mountains surrounding the Cataloochee Valley. This ski resort caters to the first time skier, with 50 skiable acres, 18 slopes, and a lighted terrain park. Forty-four percent of the slopes in the Cataloochee ski area are beginner trails, followed by 39 percent intermediate, and 17 percent advanced to expert. With 100 percent snow making capabilities, there is always a base, and you can check the Cataloochee ski area snow conditions online, as well as Maggie Valley NC weather.
Wolf Ridge is located just 5 miles off I-26 in the mountains of Western North Carolina near Asheville. In addition to a terrain park, Wolf Ridge has 15 ski runs, four green, eight blue and three black diamond, with three ski lifts to get you to the top, a quad chair, double and surface lift. For those that don’t ski, there is also a snow tubing run. Wolf Ridge has also been called Wolf Laurel Ski Resort, so if you are looking at reviews, check out both Wolf Ridge and Wolf Laurel Ski Resort.
In Sapphire NC is the Sapphire Valley Ski Resort which features a moderate slope fit for intermediate skiers and ideal for youth and beginners. However, Sapphire Valley offers more than just skiing on it’s 5700 acre resort, this is also a good snow vacation destination. There is the Frozen Falls snow tubing park and winter zip lining at the Vordach Zip Line, plus a Base Lodge with fire pit to warm up afterwards. The zip lines varying heights and lengths. Finish up with a repel down the tree or a zip. A favorite annual event here is the Great Outhouse races. During the race, homemade outhouses are put on skis and sent down the hill for charity.
Ski School and Ski Lessons at North Carolina Ski Resorts
Ski lessons aren’t just for kids, and well worth the investment. Taking a lesson is the best way to enjoy skiing. According to Jim Cottrell, who started the French-Swiss ski school at Appalachian Ski Mountain in 1969 and has literally written a book on ski instruction, it takes three lessons to become proficient and truly enjoy the skiing experience. If you don’t have three days, don’t worry, just do what you can each time and gradually learn the skills you’ll need. If you’re kids are like mine and think that snowboarding is the cool way to go, let them know it may take them a little longer to get going, but the same three lesson rule applies. Three lessons and they’re off (and in control).
What to do Off The Slopes at North Carolina Ski Resorts
Beyond having fun in the snow within an easy drive from most Southern cities, another good reason to visit North Carolina ski resorts is to determine if skiing is something your family enjoys. If one or more of your party finds they don’t enjoy skiing, don’t worry. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, there are other ways to play in the North Carolina snow. My boys enjoyed simply making snowballs and snowmen in front of our rental house. They also enjoyed visiting Hawksnest tubing park, which claims to be the largest snow tubing park on the East Coast.
Hawksnest Tubing Park
Hawks Nest tubing park is indeed the mac daddy of tubing in NC. There are 30 lanes in four different areas. Runs are between 400 and 1000 feet long with two magic carpets to take tubers back to the top for another ride. Hawks Nest has 100% snow making and lighting on all lanes, so there is always snow, even if mother nature doesn’t provide it. The evenings are a bit cooler and slicker for a faster ride.
In addition to snow tubing, Hawksnest also has one of the longest zip line tours in North Carolina. It features 10 cables, two of which are known as super or mega zips. Zip lining at Hawksnest doesn’t stop in the winter. In fact, zip lining in the snow is a great way to see the beautiful area covered in white. It’s also fun to wave and shout to your tubing friends down below. Dress warm, zip lining in the winter is fun, but can be quite cold. Winter zip lining is also available at Sapphire Valley ski resort.
In addition to Hawksnest, Sugar Mountain, Beech Mountain, Wolf Ridge and Sapphire Valley ski resorts in North Carolina also have snow tubing runs.
Ice Skating at NC Ski Resorts
Ice skating is a popular winter pastime and several of the North Carolina ski resorts offer ice skating as well. Sugar Mountain, Beech Mountain, and Appalachian Mountain all have ice skating rinks.