The beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains may not have the jaw-dropping 13,000- to 14,000-foot peaks you’ll find in the Rockies of Colorado or Utah.
But for those looking to see the snowy summits of Appalachia, there are actually numerous great places to go snow skiing in North Carolina.
There are impressive options for skiing near Asheville, not to mention top-flight North Carolina ski resorts in the High Country around Boone.
In fact, most of the best ski resorts in North Carolina are near the Blue Ridge region’s hippest hotspots and quaintest small mountain towns, including Banner Elk, Blowing Rock, and Brevard.
Skiing North Carolina is especially great for families because the slopes lean towards the gentler side. Snowtubing (a much easier endeavor for kids) is just as widely available at most NC ski resorts as skiing or snowboarding are, and sometimes ever more so.
So check out our guide to the best places for skiing in North Carolina, each of which allows you to immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty of one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges.
Best Snow-Skiing in North Carolina Guide
1) Asheville Skiing Options
- Skiing Maggie Valley NC
- Skiing Mars Hill NC
2) Boone Skiing Options
- Skiing Beech Mountain NC
- Skiing Blowing Rock NC
- Skiing Sugar Mountain NC
- Skiing Seven Devils NC
3) Cashiers and Highlands Skiing Options
- Skiing Sapphire Valley NC
Asheville Skiing Options
Asheville has emerged over the last decade as one of the most popular tourist destinations on the East Coast.
It’s located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway and has a youthful urban vibe—think microbreweries, excellent downtown restaurants, food trucks, and art galleries—that melds into quintessential mountain living—think hiking trails, mountain biking, and folk music.
But while it is the major hub of Western North Carolina, Asheville is hardly the only place in the area worth visiting in winter.
In fact, there are a couple of great ski resorts near Asheville, less than an hour outside the city. The mountain towns of Maggie Valley and Mars Hill both offer sweet snow skiing opportunities.
READ MORE: The Best Things to Do in Asheville NC
Skiing Maggie Valley NC
Just west of Asheville on the I-40, near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Maggie Valley is a popular place for adventurous Asheville tourists in both the summer and winter.
The Cataloochee Ski Area is the best place for skiing in Maggie Valley, which is to say it is the destination for all snow-related sports.
There isn’t any actual lodging here. Instead, off-site lodging partners offer up accommodation that ranges from discount motels and log cabins to upscale hotel rooms.
The ski area itself consists of 18 different slopes and trails. Most of them are aimed at beginners and intermediate skiers, but there are a couple that are designated as expert runs.
There’s a total vertical drop of 740 feet on site. Ski lessons are available for newbies, and there are “slow skiing areas” for those who are still getting accustomed to life on the slopes.
The peak season for the Cataloochee Ski Area (and all of the following destinations) is mid-December through early March. During that time, it’s open daily from about 9 AM to 10 PM.
Skiing Mars Hill NC
Moving about 20 miles north of Asheville on I-26, snow sportsters can find Mars Hill in the famed Madison County, NC (as in Bridges of…).
Mars Hill is home to the oldest college in Western North Carolina, Mars Hill University, which was originally established in 1856.
Though it has undergone a few name changes over the years, the prime ski destination in Mars Hill is currently known as Wolf Ridge Ski Resort. Since becoming Wolf Ridge, the resort has added new slopes as well as upgrading their snow machines.
The resort has a comfy lodge with multiple stone fireplaces, cafeteria, agift shop, and a viewing area. There are 15 slopes in total, over half of which are intermediate (blue squares).
There is a designated run exclusively for snow tubing. The Snow Sports School is also there to provide private and group lessons.
There are on-site and nearby cabins, chalets, and condos available through Wolf Mountain Realty and Scenic Wolf. There are also plenty of off-site partner hotels, cabins, and other accommodations.
Boone Skiing Options
Hometown of the Appalachia State University Mountaineers, Boone NC offers a wonderful mixture of a trendy college town and a cozy mountain town.
It’s got a deep history in the music scene, including roots to jam band favorites like Widespread Panic, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Doc Watson.
Boone, which was named after folk hero Daniel Boone, was incorporated in 1872. But the town has actually been around much longer.
Historically speaking, the area has been home to the Junaluska community. This unique African-American community has been free since before the Civil War, and is still around today.
Boone is still the type of place that welcomes all visitors, offering up locally brewed beers (at Appalachian Mountain Brewery), community-minded restaurants (at the F.A.R.M. Café), and easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Additionally, the best skiing in North Carolina is but a bunny hop and a mogul skip away. In fact, there are four fantastic North Carolina ski resorts less than 45 minutes from downtown Boone.
Skiing Beech Mountain NC
Noted as “the highest town in the Eastern US,” Beech Mountain perches at 5,506 feet in elevation.
In the summertime, it’s a hotspot for golf, hiking, and mountain biking. But in the winter, it’s all about the snow.
Averaging nearly 85 inches of snow a year, the town fully embraces winter sports, including offering a free snow tubing hill for kids. But Beech Mountain Resort is where the serious skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing all take place.
There are 17 different ski trails at the resort, including “The Park” for practicing your skills on different terrains. There’s even a 7,000 square foot outdoor ice-skating rink! Lessons and camps are on offer for kids of all ages.
Various types of lodging are available through partners around the town of Beech Mountain, including the Beech Alpen Inn, Pinnacle Inn Resort, the Accommodations Center of Beech Mountain, and Beech Mountain Chalet Rentals.
Skiing Blowing Rock NC
Blowing Rock is best-known for the unusual rock formation for which it is named.
The large rock juts out over the Johns River, causing crazy wind patterns that occasionally push upward so strongly that they can lift light objects.
As with most places around Watauga County NC (northeast of Asheville), outdoor activities abound in both summer and wintertime.
The Blue Ridge Mountains provide ideal, waterfall-laden settings for hiking and mountain biking in the summer. And skiing tops the outdoor activities list in winter by a wide margin.
Appalachian Ski Mountain has a dozen ski slopes, including three black diamonds and three freestyle terrains. There are also ski schools, an ice-skating rink, and four nice chalets for rent. All ski passes should be reserved online.
Both Blowing Rock and Boone are within 10 minutes of ASM, so there are over 100 different restaurants nearby and lots of other accommodations and amenities to enjoy.
Skiing Sugar Mountain NC
Located in Pisgah National Forest, Sugar Mountain, North Carolina, doesn’t even register as a town. It’s more like a large village.
Nevertheless, it offers up beautiful views, mountain streams, and lots of things to do all year round.
Sugar Mountain Resort has been around for over half a century now. It’s the largest ski resort in North Carolina, and features the longest vertical drop of all the NC ski slopes.
All in all, there are eight ski lifts here, servicing 21 slopes and 125 acres of skiing terrain.
Sugar Mountain averages about 70 inches of snow each year, and the season generally extends into March. But the resort gets an early bump from snow machines starting around Thanksgiving.
Accommodation options in Sugar Mountain include the Sugar Ski & Country Club, Sugar Mountain Lodging, and The Highlands at Sugar. The resort is located 16 miles from Boone, 16 miles from Blowing Rock, or four miles from Banner Elk.
READ MORE: Pisgah National Forest: A Beginner’s Guide
Skiing Seven Devils NC
Truth be told, skiing in Seven Devils actually requires a short trip to Appalachian Ski Mountain (30 min utes away), Beech Mountain Resort (30 min), or Sugar Mountain Resort (20 min).
Interestingly, this NC mountain town has ditched the skis for snow tubing exclusively!
What used to be miniscule ski slopes have now become top-flight snow tubing courses. Hawksnest Snowtubing and Zipline Resort has over 30 lanes available, stretching from 400 to 1000 feet long.
As the resort’s name suggests, Hawksnest NC also offers up some top-notch ziplining. There are 20 different ziplines in all, with four “mega zips” clearing 1500 feet or more.
The ziplines operate year-round. But in winter, they speed (sometimes reaching up to 50 mph) over frozen lakes and snowy meadows.
With its roster of cabins, condos, and vacation homes, Foscoe Rentals offers the closest lodging to Hawksnest. There’s also the Hidden Valley Motel– a quirky mom-and-pop roadside joint– nearby.
Cashiers & Highlands Skiing Options
While most of Western North Carolina’s ski resorts are located above I-40, there are a couple of options for those visiting the southernmost reaches of the region.
Located near the North Georgia border, Cashiers is an unincorporated village in Jackson County, NC, in the self-proclaimed “Heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.”
Nearby Highlands NC is a small town located just a quick day trip from Atlanta (2 hours) and Asheville (under 2 hours).
Each place has a distinctly upscale ambience, serving as gateways to the Nantahala National Forest and all the waterfalls, hiking trails, and breathtaking vistas to be found there.
When winter arrives, the local outdoor activities also feature a respectable ski slope.
READ MORE: The 27 Best Waterfalls Near Asheville, NC
Skiing Sapphire Valley NC
Located three miles east of Cashiers, Sapphire has just enough snow to help ski enthusiasts get a little action.
Sapphire Valley Ski Resort offers a 1600-foot ski slope with a 200-foot vertical drop. It’s also a great spot for honing your snowboarding skills.
In addition to the ski slope, Sapphire Valley features Frozen Falls, a 500-foot snow tubing run that slides down some 60 feet in elevation. Then there’s a moving sidewalk to carry snow tubers back up the slope for easy access to more fun.
Sapphire Valley has a mixed assortment of lodging offered by various independent operators. –by Jonathon Engels