Skiing in North Carolina

North Carolina's ski resorts are within driving distance of a large percentage of the population of the Southeast.

Skiing in North Carolina? Few Americans know that skiing exists so far south of the Mason Dixon Line. However, with summit elevations climbing over one mile high, many more would be surprised to learn that the skiing in North Carolina is actually quite decent all things considered.

North Carolina's ski resorts fill a niche in that they are within driving distance of a large portion of the Southeastern population. These high mountain resorts draw skiers from Atlanta, Charlotte, Charleston, and even Florida, all of whom would be forced to board a plane to ski without them.

That said, don't expect Colorado conditions. Snowfall in the Tar Heel State is notoriously hit or miss and rain is simply a part of winters here. In that regard, the terrain and snowfall is fairly similar in quality to states like Pennsylvania. One big difference between these regions, however, is infrastructure. In Europe, many skiers joke that old lifts go to Bulgaria to die. In the USA, it seems they go to North Carolina. Rental equipment and gear tends to be older as well and the quality of skiers tends towards hapless beginners, many of whom wander onto trails far too steep for their middling abilities.

However, the spirit of the sport is as strong here as anywhere in the USA and North Carolina is a skiing oasis in the middle of the temperate South. Expect to see lots of jeans, flannel and 1980's ski gear you thought had all but vanished. At the end of the day, however, a unique apres ski culture dominated by skiers swigging PBR (and not ironically), country music, and lots of ski in/out accommodations makes North Carolina's ski resorts surprisingly fun places to visit.

North Carolina Ski Resorts

Beech Mountain

Boasting North Carolina's only detachable quad, Beech is also the highest ski area in the Eastern United States, with a summit elevation of over 5,500'.

Sugar Mountain

With a 1,200' drop, Sugar Mountain is the largest ski resort in North Carolina and one of the largest in the entire Southeast.

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Appalachian Mountain

A small mountain with just a 365' vertical drop, Appalachian Mountain caters to a local crowd and offers season long "memberships" that makes skiing affordable.

Cataloochee

The nearest ski area to Asheville, Cataloochee's 745' vertical drop makes it the largest North Carolina ski resort outside of the Banner Elk region.

Sapphire Valley

With the smallest vertical drop in North Carolina (only 200'), Sapphire Valley attracts a mainly beginner crowd and its large snowtubing operation is popular with families.

Wolf Ridge

Located near the Tennesse border between Johnson City and Asheville, Wolf Ridge is the widest of the state's ski areas with lifts and trails spread out across a ridgeline dotted with luxury houses.

Ski Resorts & Regions

  • Beech Mountain

    Perched atop a peak in the western North Carolina high country, Beech Mountain holds the distinction of being the highest ski resort in the eastern United States with a summit elevation of 5,506 ft.

  • Sugar Mountain

    North Carolina's largest vertical drop draws skiers from the surrounding states. With a summit elevation over 1 mile high (5,300 ft) and a strong commitment to snowmaking, Sugar Mountain offers a season stretching from November through March.