Snow skiing in North Carolina became a reality in the 1960s, when the first NC ski resorts opened.
Amazingly, all six of the ski resorts in North Carolina date back to that pioneering decade, and have since become some of the most popular Blue Ridge Mountains attractions.
Due to advancements in snowmaking techniques, NC skiing seasons often last a third of the year, from nearly a month before Christmas to the end of March.
In other words, snow skiing in North Carolina has become an annual holiday tradition and a popular option for wintertime fun.
There are three ski resorts near Banner Elk and Boone, which are widely considered to offer the best skiing in NC. Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain sandwich Banner Elk, while Appalachian Ski Mountain is between Boone and Blowing Rock.
Skiing near Asheville is available at the Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley, and the Wolf Ridge Ski Resort in Mars Hill. There’s also a small ski area down south in Sapphire Valley, near the towns of Cashiers and Highlands.
These ski resorts in NC have continued to improve their plots for decades now, constantly adding new slopes, terrain parks, snow tubing runs, and more.
Read on for our guide to the best North Carolina Ski Resorts, including an overview of the history, amenities, and ski packages available at each one.
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North Carolina Ski Resorts Guide
(listed in alphabetical order)
- Appalachian Ski Mountain (Blowing Rock)
- Beech Mountain Ski Resort (Beech Mountain)
- Cataloochee Ski Area (Maggie Valley)
- Ski Sapphire Valley (Sapphire)
- Sugar Mountain Resort (Sugar Mountain)
- Wolf Ridge Ski Resort (Mars Hill)
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1. Appalachian Ski Mountain
940 Ski Mountain Rd, Blowing Rock NC • (800) 322-2373
Founded in 1968, Appalachian Ski Mountain is the second oldest ski area in the state of North Carolina.
It was constructed in the early 1960s, and was formerly known as the Blowing Rock Ski Lodge.
It started with a 12,000-foot lodge, and three ski slopes that were serviced by tow ropes.
Improvements have been steadily throughout the years, with ski lifts added early on and a huge expansion taking place in 1984. The makeovers continued in the early 1990s, with modernized lifts and snow-making equipment.
This is the closest option for a Blowing Rock or Boone ski resort. It’s located between the two tourist towns, and about a 10-minute drive from either downtown area.
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Appalachian Ski Mountain Ski Packages
Appalachian Ski Mountain has 12 slopes, including 3 easy, 3 intermediate, and 3 difficult. The other three slopes are freestyle terrains, which are perfect for big-time snowboarding in North Carolina.
This North Carolina mountain has a vertical drop of 375 feet and is serviced by 3 chair lifts, a handle pull, and 2 conveyor belts.
ASM recently invested $2 million in updating its snowmaking capabilities, and now has the greatest capacity in the Southeast. Their entire NC ski area is covered by automated snowmaking equipment when necessary.
Appalachian Mountain ski tickets come in 5 options: 8-Hour Flex, Super Session (9AM–10PM), Night Session (5– 10PM), Midnight Blast Session (5PM–Midnight), and Half-Night Session (8:30PM–Midnight).
Their snow skiing rates are most expensive on Christmas and other holidays, slightly less on Saturdays and Sundays, and significantly less on weekdays.
Children ages 6 to 12 and seniors over 60 get discounts, as do families with active military members. Children younger than age six can ski for free with a ticketed adult. Multi-day ticketsare available as well.
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Appalachian Ski Mountain Amenities
The Appalachian Ski Lodge is a 46,000-square-foot Bavarian-style building at the base of the slopes. It offers free Wi-Fi in several areas and a 200-foot observation deck.
Their Alpine Ski Shop sells ski equipment, clothing, and accessories. The Appalachian Gift Shop covers souvenir needs. The clothing rental operation is huge, and has everything from goggles and gloves to waterproof bibs.
Other amenities in the lodge include a restaurant, TV room, game room, dressing rooms, and clothes dryers.
Lessons are available at the French Swiss Ski College. Group classes are available 5 times a day and have no more than 10 students. Private lessons are possible as well.
Appalachian Ski Mountain also offers Slopeside Lodging, with 4 chalets within a mile of the lodge. Two of these can sleep up to 8 people, and the other two can sleep 14.
Otherwise, cabin rentals in Boone or cabin rentals in Blowing Rock are also a good option.
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2. Beech Mountain Ski Resort
1007 Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain NC • (800) 438-2093
The Beech Mountain Resort opened in 1967, and it’s much more than a resort. It’s an entire ski village and a top choice for snow skiing near Boone NC.
Located at an elevation of 5,506 feet, it also has the claim to fame of being the highest ski resort in the east, as well as the highest small town this side of the Rockies.
This Blue Ridge Mountain town was built around tourism, including the popular Land of Oz, a Wizard of Oz theme park. Its population of 320 residents swells to about 5,000 in the summer, and to 10,000 during the winter in NC.
During the summer, guests can enjoy 28 miles of hiking trails, plenty of mountain biking, and mountain streams stocked with trout. Winter, of course, is all about snow sports.
In addition to being high elevation, Beech Mountain gets some of the most snow in North Carolina, averaging nearly 70 inches a year!
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Beech Mountain Ski Resort Ski Packages
Beech Mountain’s slopes have a vertical rise of 830 feet, with the base at 4,675 feet and the peak elevation at the village.
Its 95 skiable acres have 9 lifts (including two magic carpets and a rope tow), which service 17 North Carolina ski trails. There are 3 green circle routes, 7 blue squares, and 4 black diamonds, as well as 2 freestyle terrains.
The snow-making capacity at Beech Mountain offers 100% slope coverage. So skiing and snowboarding stay full tilt here, even in years where there’s little natural snow in NC.
Beech Mountain slope tickets come in several denominations: day, twilight, morning half-day, afternoon half-day, night, and Beech passes (which go from open to close).
Weekend and holiday passes are significantly more expensive than weekday passes, and multi-day tickets are available (and come with a free night of skiing).
Adult skiers over 70 years of age ride for free, and kids under age four can ski free with paying adults.
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Beech Mountain Ski Resort Amenities
Beech Mountain Ski Resort is a little tourist village, so it has a host of amenities geared toward keeping guests entertained, fed, and watered.
Snow-based recreation extends beyond the ski slopes to include a sledding hill, a snow tubing park, and a freestyle terrain park.
Beech Mountain also has its own microbrewery, Beech Mountain Brewing Co, with an attached restaurant.
The entire resort features sustainable development initiatives, ranging from slope lighting and recycling to water and wildlife conservation.
Beech Mountain Lodging is available, with several cabins that can sleep 6, 8, and up to 10 people. There is also additional nearby lodging in Boone NC.
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3. Cataloochee Ski Area
1080 Ski Lodge Rd, Maggie Valley NC • (828) 926-0285
Founded by Tom and Judith Alexander in 1933, the Cataloochee Ranch was originally a sheep and cattle farm with a guest facility.
In 1938, it relocated to its present location in Maggie Valley NC, about 35 miles east of Asheville.
In 1961, the Alexanders introduced 4 snow-making machines. The Cataloochee Ski Area became the first ski slope south of Virginia, effectively launching the “Ski NC” movement!
The ski area expanded a few years later, reaching an elevation of 5,400 feet at Moody Top. Today, the Cataloochee Ski Area has about 50 skiable acres in total.
The ranch and ski area continue to be operated by the Alexander family, including the children and grandchildren of the founders.
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Cataloochee Ski Area Ski Packages
The ski slopes at the Cataloochee Ski Area have a 740-foot vertical drop. The longest run, Upper and Lower Snowbird, is approximately two-thirds of a mile.
The area’s 18 ski runs are serviced by 3 chair lifts and 2 moving carpet conveyor belts. There are 8 beginner, 7 intermediate, and 3 expert slopes to choose from.
Cataloochee utilizes several types of snowmaking guns, and has the ability to cover 100% of their skiable acreage.
Lift tickets are sold as 4-hour passes, 6-hour passes, and night passes (5PM to close). Enthusiastic skiers can extend their 4- or 6-hour passes after 5PM.
The weekday 6-hour pass is $49 for adults, but on weekends and holidays it goes up to $79. Juniors (ages 12 and under) can ski for $39/$59. Seniors over 70 years of age ride for free, and ages 65-69 get the junior lift ticket rate.
Cataloochee Ski Area season passes are also available.
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Cataloochee Ski Area Amenities
Cataloochee Ski Area has a cafeteria that serves fast food options like burgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, and fries. There’s also a full bar that opens at 11AM. They both stay open until the slopes close.
In addition to skiing, Cataloochee Ski Area has the nearby Tube World for snow tubing. It’s located about 4 miles from the ski runs and has a groomed slope, special tubes, and a moving carpet.
Cat Cage, the Cataloochee terrain park, is open throughout the season and has a separate beginner and intermediate/advanced park.
The Ski & Ridge Center provides group and private lessons for skiing and snowboarding, including “Cat Trackers” for children between four and 12.
Several lodging partners work to provide guests with accommodations in Maggie Valley, including cabins, motels, cottages, resorts, and more.
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4. Ski Sapphire Valley
127 Cherokee Trail, Sapphire NC • (828) 743-7663
Sapphire Valley Ski Resort is located near Cashiers and Lake Toxaway in Western North Carolina, and it is the southernmost ski slope in the state.
The resort was opened in 1964 by Gene Howerdd Jr, who had grown tired of leaving Sapphire Valley for the Cataloochee Ski Area to take his family skiing.
It originally had two small slopes, a tow rope, and basic snowmaking equipment. But after just one year, improvements such as a chair lift and a base lodge were added.
The place has remained relatively small, but now offers snow tubing, skiing, snowboarding, and a ski school.
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Sapphire Valley Ski Resort Ski Packages
The main slope of Sapphire Valley has a vertical drop of 200 feet, and is about 1600 feet long.
There’s also a bunny/learning slope for children and beginners, as well as a 500-foot-long snow-tubing run.
Skiers on the main slope use a quad chair lift, while the bunny slope has a moving carpet and the snow tubing run relies on a tow rope.
The slopes are only open on weekends, starting at noon on Friday and 9AM on Saturdays and Sundays. They close at 8PM on Friday and Saturday and 6PM on Sundays.
Lift tickets are split into day and twilight. and can be combined with equipment rentals. On holidays, the price goes up, but only by a few dollars. Two- and three-day ski passes are available as well.
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Sapphire Valley Ski Resort Amenities
The Frozen Falls Tube Park has a 500-foot run with a 60-foot vertical drop, and tubers can use a “moving sidewalk” to climb back up to the top.
Sapphire Valley Ski School offers private and group lessons for skiing and snowboarding. They last one hour, and are available throughout the day.
The small facility has a 4 Seasons Grille, Ski Lodge & Ski Shop, and patio sitting area.
Lodging is available for those who want to ski Sapphire Valley, which is near Cashiers NC. But the properties are managed by various independent agencies. Check out the Sapphire Valley rates via Booking.com.
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5. Sugar Mountain Resort
1009 Sugar Mountain Dr, Sugar Mountain NC • (800) 784-2768
Sugar Mountain Resort was established in 1969, and it started with just 4 lifts and 11 ski slopes.
It has been gradually adding new runs, snow parks, lifts, biking trails, and updated infrastructure ever since.
The mountain is located near Grandfather Mountain State Park, 4 miles south of Banner Elk, 15 miles west of Blowing Rock, and 15 miles southwest of Boone. It’s also just a short journey from Beech Mountain Ski Resort.
This is a year-round facility with skiing, snowboarding, tubing, ice skating, and snowshoeing in the winter.
In the summer, there are mountain bike trails, hiking trails, chair lift rides, and special events.
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Sugar Mountain Resort Ski Packages
The skiable area in Sugar Mountain Resort is 125 acres, with a total vertical drop of 1,200 feet. The summit is 5,300 feet above sea level, and the base is located at 4,100 feet.
The resort has 6 chairlifts, 2 magic carpets (Beginner’s Area and Tubing Park), and a handle tow for the Terrain Park.
In all, there are 20 slopes for visitors to enjoy (14 of which have lights for nighttime skiing), adding up to about 5 miles of skiing and riding. Sugar Mountain has the longest ski runs in North Carolina, and the largest vertical drop.
The resort features a double-black diamond run and 2 black diamond runs for expert skiers. It also has 8 beginners slopes for newbies.
Ticket prices are cheaper on weekdays than weekends, and options include full-day ($50/$84), half-day ($40/$66), twilight ($50/$84), and night skiing ($34/$46).
Juniors ages 5 to 11 get a discounted rate. Season passes are also available.
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Sugar Mountain Resort Amenities
Skiing and snowboarding are just the beginning of the winter activities at Sugar Mountain. There’s also ice skating, and an extensive snow tubing park right across the street. Guests can also go snowshoeing.
Their Sugar Bear Ski School has private and group skiing lessons, and the Polar Bear Snowboard School has snowboarding lessons with accredited instructors.
Sugar Mountain has a wealth of restaurants, including a 350-seat cafeteria, a 250-seat “top floor” cafeteria, an outdoor grill, an annex snack bar, and the Last Run Lounge (which often features live music).
The Sugar Mountain Sports Shop sells equipment and apparel, while the rental shop has all the necessities for skiing or snowboarding.
Lodging isn’t available at Sugar Mountain Resort, but you can check rates for nearby lodging via Booking.com.
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6. Wolf Ridge Ski Resort
578 Valley View Circle, Mars Hill NC • (828) 689-4111
Formerly known as the Wolf Laurel Ski Area, Wolf Ridge Ski Resort is the closest option for skiing in Asheville NC. It’s located about 30 minutes north of downtown on the I-26.
The original ski resort opened in 1969 with little more than a tow rope and two runs. In the early 1990s it was sold to a new owner, who vastly expanded the property.
Now Wolf Ridge caters primarily to families, and has slopes that are suitable for beginners as well as experts.
There is a large, rustic lodge that looks out at the mountain and has 3 stone fireplaces to warm up next to while watching friends, family, and strangers scoot down the slopes.
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Wolf Ridge Ski Packages
Wolf Ridge now has 15 ski runs and 4 ski lifts, including 4 runs for beginners (green circle), 9 for intermediate skiers (blue square), and 2 for advanced skiing (black diamond).
The mountain has a 700-foot vertical drop, and there are 130 snow guns to keep the slopes ready to run.
Options for one day of skiing include full-day passes ($47-$76), night area passes (6-10PM), half-day passes (1-4:30 PM), twilight passes (1– 10:30PM), and extended area passes (9AM–10PM).
Consecutive day passes of 2 or 3 days are also available at discounted rates, and weekday rates are considerably cheaper than weekend and holiday rates.
Season passes are also available ($750,) with discounts for families of four or more ($500/person) and military personnel. Children under four and seniors over 65 can ski for free.
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Wolf Ridge Ski Resort Amenities
“The Wolf” has a Snow Sports School to provide lessons for beginners and intermediates in both skiing and snowboarding. One-on-one private lessons are also available, as are less expensive group lessons.
In addition to skiing and snowboarding slopes, Wolf Ridge Ski Resort has a separate 350-foot snow tubing slope with a magic carpet lift.
Their lodge has a pizzeria that serves salads, finger foods, burgers, pizzas, and desserts.
Accommodations near Wolf Ridge Ski Resort (including cabins, mountain chalets, hotels and condominiums) can be found via Booking.com– by Jonathon Engels, featured image of Cataloochee Ski Area via @CataloocheeSkiArea