Asheville, North Carolina is a year-round outdoor magnet, and in the winter you’ve not only got extensive hiking and biking opportunities in the lower elevations, but also some of the best skiing and snowboarding anywhere in the Southeast ready at hand!
Taking advantage of the high elevations and steep terrain of the Blue Ridge Mountains and augmenting natural snowfall with state-of-the-art snowmaking, the region’s ski resorts offer an extended season of downhill action, whether you’re an enthusiastic novice or a stone-cold professional.
Here’s a look at some of the best skiing in Asheville’s greater backyard!
Wolf Ridge Ski Resort (578 Valley View Circle, Mars Hill, NC)
“The Wolf” offers the closest ski and snowboard slopes to Asheville, primed by a decent heaping of annual snowfall and 100% snowmaking capability. Boasting a maximum elevation of some 4,700 feet, Wolf Ridge offers 700 feet of vertical within its 54 skiable acres, and its 15 lighted runs include two elite Black Diamond trails. A double lift, quad lift, and a pair of surface lifts serve skiers and snowboarders, who also appreciate the three big stone fireplaces in the lodge for cozy post-run warmups. There’s a terrain park and all-ages tubing on hand as well.
Wolf Ridge Ski Resort, which opened in 1969 as the Wolf Laurel Ski Area, also offers fantastic slopeside lessons via its Snow Sports School.
Cataloochee Ski Area (1080 Ski Lodge Rd, Maggie Valley, NC)
A long season of skiing and snowboarding—typically early November through late March—awaits you on the Great Smoky Mountain slopes of Cataloochee Ski Area above Maggie Valley, less than an hour from Asheville. Cataloochee has a maximum elevation of 5400 feet and some 740 feet of vertical, with 50 skiable acres and complete snowmaking coverage. Its 18 runs include something for everybody: Beginner options such as Over Easy and Turkey Trot, Intermediate ones such as Rock Island Run and Wild Cat Glade, and Expert-level fun on the Upper Omigosh and Alley Cat trails as well as the Cat Cage Terrain Park. You can bone up on your skills—whatever level they’re at—in the Ski & Snowboard School; the HEAD Kids Adventure Center caters to younger skiers and riders.
Sugar Mountain Resort (1009 Sugar Mountain Dr, Sugar Mountain, NC)
The most extensive downhill terrain in the high country of western North Carolina—some 125 skiable acres—makes Sugar Mountain Resort, about 70 miles from Asheville, one of the area’s peak snowsports destinations. Claiming a vertical drop of 1,200 feet and a summit elevation of 5,300 feet, Sugar Mountain offers 21 runs, 15 of which are lighted for night skiing and riding. The 1,250-foot Whoopdeedoo is a Double Black Diamond trail. Besides the great variety of slopes and terrain park, serviced by eight lifts, Sugar Mountain Resort offers skiing and snowboarding lessons along with tubing, snowshoeing, and ice skating.
Beech Mountain Resort (1007 Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain, NC)
Some 80 miles northeast of Asheville, meanwhile, you’ll find the highest ski area in the East: Beech Mountain Resort, with a base elevation of nearly 4,700 feet and a vertical drop of 830 feet up in the Blue Ridge. Opened in 1967, the resort maintains 95 skiable acres with 17 trails and eight lifts, and like the others has 100% snowmaking capacity. Along with the slopes and the terrain park, you’ll find tubing runs here—oh, and an ice skating rink, too!
Appalachian Ski Mountain (940 Ski Mountain Rd, Blowing Rock, NC)
Appalachian Ski Mountain—about a 90-mile drive from Asheville—has been delighting downhillers since the early 1960s. Its 12 slopes—accounting for some 365 feet of vertical—are all lighted for nighttime skiing and riding, and host six lifts. The resort, which has a base elevation of 3,635 feet, also offers three terrain parks, plus ski and snowboard lessons, ice skating and hockey, and other wintertime fun.
Hit the Slopes Around Asheville This Winter
Spend some quality time on the snowy slopes (and sipping a warm beverage in the lodges) of the Asheville area’s topnotch spread of ski resorts: Blue Ridge winter recreation at its finest!