Last Updated on October 11, 2022
Most people think of Colorado, Utah or even Wyoming when they think about great places to ski— completely overlooking the peaks in North Carolina as a potential ski destination. Contrary to popular thought, North Carolina is actually home to the highest elevations in the South.
Ready to explore the ski slopes in the south? Here’s your ultimate guide to skiing in North Carolina.
When can you ski in North Carolina?
Don’t let the milder winter temps in North Carolina fool you into thinking that it’s too warm to ski— on average it’s about 15 to 20 degrees colder on the slopes than the lower elevations.
Boasting an average snowfall of about 70,” the ski season in North Carolina typically opens around Thanksgiving and closes in mid-March. For exact closing dates for the 5 biggest ski destinations in North Carolina, see below:
According to On the Snow, the projected closing dates are as follows:
- Wolf Ridge Ski Resort is projected to close on February 28
- Appalachian Ski Mountain is projected to close on March 22
- Beech Mountain Resort is projected to close on March 24
- Cataloochee Ski Area is projected to close on March 31
- Sugar Mountain Resort is projected to close on April 1
The best skiing in North Carolina
Appalachian Ski Mountain
The story of Appalachian Ski Mountain began on December 4, 1968 where it opened as the first ski area in Northwestern North Carolina and the second oldest ski area in the State. Now home to 10 slopes, 3 terrain parks and a panoramic outdoor ice arena, there is something for every member of the family to enjoy. Enjoy a long season starting mid-November and going through late March and take advantage of their night skiing seven nights a week.
Appalachian Ski Mountain offers many events throughout the cold months. Some seasonal favorites are: Skiing with Santa (1-4pm on Christmas Eve), New Year’s Eve Extravaganza, Appalachian Cup Race Series, President’s Day Family Weekend Meltdown Games, and more! See their event schedule for specific dates and times. Guests can also participate in snowboarding, ice skating, ski lessons, and enjoy a meal at the lodge restaurant. Appalachian Ski Mountain has a limited number of slopeside cabins available starting at $230 per night.
Located off of US 321 between Blowing Rock and Boone.
Weekend Full Day Pass: $66
Weekend Ski Rentals: $33
Season Passes: $525
Home to 17 slopes with 98 skiable acres, Beech Mountain is coined Eastern America’s Highest Town, and easily one of the best places to ski in North Carolina. The resort features a vertical drop of over 830 feet and receives an average of 84 inches of snow each year. Home to only 350 permanent residents, Beech Mountain sees crowds of over 10,000 during the winter months. But the fun doesn’t stop when the temperatures go up. Beech attracts many avid mountain bikers with their 12 trails that span 18 miles throughout the town of Beech Mountain and Emerald Outback. Home to the 2013 and 2014 US Cycling Collegiate National Championship, Emerald Outback is a great spot for mountain biking, hiking and running.
Beech Mountain offers an assortment of comfortable and unique lodging options for guests ranging from budget to luxury with standard lodge rooms, spacious vacation homes, chalets, inns, and cottages.
Beech Mountain is located in both Avery and Watauga Counties and is within 35 minutes of many popular destinations like Grandfather Mountain, Tweetsie Railroad, and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Weekend Full Day Pass: $70
Weekend Ski Rentals: $34
Season Passes: $550
Sugar Mountain is a small village located at the eastern end of Avery County and surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains. With a total area of 2.4 square miles, Sugar Mountain Ski is one of the most popular ski resorts in the High Country. Construction of the resort began in early 1969 and the ski slopes officially opened for the first time on December 19, 1969. In 2019, they celebrate 50 years of operation.
Choose from full day, half day, twilight or night skiing sessions. Both seasoned veterans and beginners are welcome. Bring your own gear or visit the on-site sports shop for equipment rentals. Newcomers can also participate in skiing & snowboarding lessons at the Ski & Snowboard Schools. When lodging in the Sugar Mountain Resort area you can choose from many hotel and motel rooms, condos and homes located slope-side or throughout the Village of Sugar Mountain. The Village of Sugar Mountain provides complimentary shuttle services from many points throughout the Village to the Resort’s base lodge during weekends and holidays.
Sugar Mountain is located in in Avery County and the village is located on Sugar Mountain’s north slope.
Weekend Full Day Pass: $46- $77
Weekend Ski Rentals: $23- $36
Season Passes: $618-$790
Wolf Ridge Ski Resort
This charming ski resort is nestled in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, about 30 minutes outside of Asheville. Although it is one of the smaller resorts in North Carolina, the Wolf Ridge offers some of the most challenging terrain in the Southeast! With 54 acres of skiable terrain, 100% snowmaking capability, 2 black diamond runs and a total vertical drop of 700 feet, there are plenty of ways to experience North Carolina winter to it’s fullest. If you’re a first timer, Wolf Ridge is known for their amazing Snow Sports School instructors and will make sure you feel prepared and confident taking on your new adventure. Take part in this instruction as a group or as a one-on-one private session.
If you’d rather stay cozy and bundled up inside, the Wolf Ridge Ski Resort welcomes you inside to relax in a rocking chair by a fire with a cup of hot cocoa. Their charming lodge features three large stone fireplaces and huge windows on two levels that face the slopes.
In addition to their winter sports: skiing, snowboarding, tubing, this resort offers year round adventure and invites their guests to enjoy mountain biking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, caving, and hiking in addition to all their winter offerings. Townhome rentals are also available yearround and can and can accommodate groups of all sizes. Come see for yourself and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Weekend Full Day Pass: $33-$42
Weekend Ski Rentals: $24-$34
Season Passes: $375-$650
Cataloochee Ski Area
Having opened just one year prior to Appalchian Ski Mountain, Cataloochee is the oldest Ski Resort in North Carolina and the first on the East Coast. Located high in the Great Smoky Mountains in Maggie Valley, their peaks rise to 5,400 feet in elevation. They also have one of the most advanced snowmaking systems in the Southeast that covers 18 slopes and trails. This allows them to offer a long season full of winter sports for their thrillseaking guests.
Cataloochee is another great mountain for learning. As proud members of the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors, Cataloochee Snowsports School teaches a wide range of skills, from the foundational basics to the newest techniques and tricks for seasoned experts.
Visit this mountain for plenty of special events throughout the witner season including Ski & Snowboard Swap Shops, Can-U-Ski Food and Coat Drive,Maggie’s First Night 2020 (Dec 31st), and Law Enforcement, Military, and Fire and Rescue Appreciation Days.
Weekend Full Day Pass: $54-$72
Weekend Ski Rentals: $28-$33
Season Passes: $700
Sapphire Valley Ski Resort
A perfect destination for residents of Georgia and South Carolina, Sapphire Valley Ski Resort is located in the southernmost part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and offers 5,700 acres of beautiful landscape at an elevation of 3,100 feet. You can expect a jam-packed winter full of live music, arts and crafts classes, breakfast buffets, bingo, and plenty of other social gatherings.
Sapphire Valley is also home to Frozen Falls Tube Park, 500 foot run with a vertical drop of 60 feet for the entire family to enjoy. With their “moving carpet” lift and multiple tubing lanes, Sapphire Valley is a great choice for tubing with shorter lines allowing for more tube time!
Plenty of townhomes, villas and private homes on and around the property are available to rent throughout the year. Guests to lodge on-site receive the full amenity privileges including access to the Recreation Center’s pools, hot tubs, sauna, fitness center, workout room, mini-golf, massage therapies, movie rentals, free wi-fi and arcade, and 25% off the public ski rate. There are also three on-site lounges and restaurants that offer a delicious menu.
Weekend Full Day Pass: $33-$45
Weekend Ski Rentals: $18+
FAQ on skiing in North Carolina
What’s the biggest ski resort in North Carolina?
Tied for first with Beech Mountain, Sugar Mountain is the largest ski resort in North Carolina–boasting a total slope length of 14 km.
Where can I snow tube in North Carolina?
If skiing isn’t your forte, consider snow tubing! Hawksnest snow tubing is the largest tubing destination and was actually converted from on old ski slope. Beech Mountain has recently opened a snow tubing area, and you can also snow tube at Sugar Mountain, Sapphire Valley Ski Resort and Jonas Ridge.