Ski the South

Who says you have to go to Colorado or Vermont for winter sports?

Posted Updated
Carol Timblin
Who says you have to go to Colorado or Vermont for winter sports? Just look toward the mountains of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, and you’ll find 16 ski resorts – seven in North Carolina, four in Virginia, four in West Virginia and one in Tennessee.

Almost all date to the 1960s, when snow skiing was first introduced to the region. A number of resorts also offer ice skating, snowboarding, snow tubing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, plus wireless Internet access. Many host special winter events, especially during holidays, and are a part of a large resort complex.

All are within driving distance of the Carolinas.

When Mother Nature cooperates, there’s plenty of natural snow at southern resorts, mid-November through mid-March (ski season). When she doesn’t, ski operators crank up snow-making machines and spew enough white powder to cover the slopes (cold temperatures willing).

And just because the slopes are located in the South, don’t think skiing is a snap. Every resort offers challenges for every ability level, from beginner to expert. So dust off your ski wear, make your reservations and plan your getaway.

North Carolina

North Carolina’s greatest concentration of ski resorts is in the High Country – Appalachian Ski Mountain near Blowing Rock, Hawksnest Ski Resort at Seven Devils, Sugar Mountain Ski Resort in Banner Elk and Ski Beech Mountain Resort on top of Beech Mountain.

Others are Cataloochee Ski Area near Maggie Valley, Wolf Ridge at Mars Hill and Sapphire Valley Ski Resort & Frozen Falls Tube Park at Sapphire. To meet public demand in recent years, most resorts have added snowboarding and snow tubing options, with “magic carpet” transport back to the summit. The snow tubing park at Hawksnest Ski Resort, the state’s largest, features eight tubing lanes, each 1,000 feet long.

Known for its 1.5-mile ski run, Sugar Mountain Resort is introducing its new 10,000-square foot outdoor ice skating rink this season, joining Ski Beech and Appalachian Mountain in offering this favorite winter pastime in the High Country. Ski instruction is an integral part of every resort’s ski program, but Appalachian’s French Swiss Ski College, now in its 38th season, is a standout. A number of the resorts offer ski packages and special rates for school groups and seniors. For example, Cataloochee Ski Area allows children, ages 17 and under, to ski free when staying with an adult at a participating accommodation in Maggie Valley.

Want to know more?

Appalachian Ski Mountain Resort – 4,000-foot summit with 365-foot vertical drop, 10 slopes and trails, five lifts, equipment rentals, ski school, children’s program, snowboarding, ice skating, ski racing. 740 Ski Mountain Road, Blowing Rock, NC 28605, 800-322-2377, 828-295-7828. E-mail:; Web:

Cataloochee Ski Area – 5,400-foot summit with 740-foot vertical drop, 14 slopes and tails, seven lifts, ski and snowboard school, equipment rentals, children’s program, snow tubing. 1080 Ski Lodge Road, Maggie Valley, NC 28751, 800-768-3588, 828-926-0285 . E-mail:; Web:

Hawksnest Ski Resort – 4,819-foot summit with 619-foot vertical drop, 12 slopes and trails, five lifts, equipment rental, ski school, children’s program, snowboarding, night skiing. 2058 Skyland Drive, Seven Devils, NC 28604, 800-822-4295 or 828-963-6561. Web:

Sapphire Valley Ski Area & Frozen Falls Tube Park – 4,300-foot summit with 200-foot vertical drop, 2 slopes for beginner and intermediate skiers, ski and snowboard school, equipment rental, snowboarding. 4350 U.S. Highway 64 West, Sapphire, NC 28774, 828-743-1169. Web:

Ski Beech Mountain Resort – 5,506-foot summit (highest resort in Eastern U.S.), 15 slopes and trails, 10 lifts, ski and snowboard school, equipment rental, children’s program, snowboarding, night skiing, ice skating, pro and amateur racing. 1007 Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain, NC 28604, 800-438-2093 or 828-387-2011. Web:

Sugar Mountain Resort – 5,300-foot summit with 1,200 vertical drop, 20 slopes, eight lifts, equipment rentals, ski and snowboard school, night skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, snowshoeing, ice skating, NASTAR racing. 1009 Sugar Mountain Drive, Banner Elk, NC 28604, 800-SUGARMT. E-mail:; Web:

Wolf Ridge Ski Resort – 4,700-foot summit with 700-foot vertical drop, six lifts, 14 slopes and trails, ski and snowboard school, children’s program, snowboarding, snow tubing. 578 Valley View Circle, Mars Hill, NC 28754, 800-814-4111 or 828-689-4111. Web:


Skiers continue to be pleased with Virginia’s four ski resorts, all located in the Shenandoah Valley: Bryce Resort in Basye, The Homestead in Hot Springs, Massanuten Resort near Harrisonburg and Wintergreen Resort near Charlottesville. Returning skiers will find that little has changed at any of the resorts since last season. However, children will be delighted with Wintergreen’s new 5,400-square-foot Out of Bounds Adventure Center, featuring inflatable play areas, mechanical bull named Bullwinkle and other activities.

Want to know more?

Bryce Resort – 1,750-foot summit, eight slopes and trails, four lifts, PSIA ski school, children’s program, snowboarding, tubing park, NASTAR & USSA racing. 1982 Fairway Drive, Basye, VA 22810, 800-821-1444 or 540-856-1212. Web:

The Homestead – downhill & cross-country skiing, Sepp Kober ski school, equipment rentals, snowboarding, snow tubing, ice-skating, snowmobiling, snowshoeing. Resort rated Four Diamonds in 2007. 1766 Homestead Drive, Hot Springs, VA 24445, 866-354-4653. Web:

Massanuten Resort – 2,725-foot summit with 1,110 vertical drop, 14 slopes and trails, 7 lifts, equipment rentals, snowboarding, tubing park, ski school, children’s program, team sports. Rt. 644, Harrisonburg, VA 22803, 510-289-9441. E-mail:; Web:

Wintergreen Resort – 4,000-foot summit, 25 slopes and trails (including 1.4-mile run), 7 lifts, equipment rentals, snowboarding, tubing area, PSI & AASI ski & snowboard schools, children’s program, team sports. Twice named “Best Ski Resort” by Washington Post. Rt. 664, Wintergreen, VA 22958, 434-325-2200. Web:

West Virginia

The Mountain State is home to four ski resorts: Winterplace at Ghent (closest to the Carolinas), Snowshoe Mountain at Snowshoe, Canaan Valley Resort (a state park) and Timberline Four Season Resort in Canaan Valley. Winter sports enthusiasts also enjoy cross country skiing at Elk River Touring Center at Snowshoe and Alpine Lake Resort near Terra Alta.

Winterplace Ski Resort, which has the largest snow tubing park in West Virginia, has added two super carpet lifts and enlarged its teaching area. New at Snowshoe Mountain, which boasts a 1.5-mile run, are two new trails in the main ski area, south of the Soaring Eagle Express (high-speed quad lift). One is for advanced skiers and riders, and the other for intermediate skiers. Opening in early December, Timberline Resort has a full schedule of special events planned through closing in early April. It offers several two-mile runs. There’s also lots of winter fun in store at Canaan Valley Resort.

Want to know more?

Canaan Valley Resort Park & Conference Center – 34 slopes and trails, snow and cross country skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, snowshoeing, ice skating. Located in Davis, WV 26260, 800-622-4121 or 306-866-4121.

Snowshoe Mountain – 4,848-foot summit with 1,500-foot vertical drop, 57 slopes and trails, 14 lifts, equipment rentals, ski school, children’s program, cross-country skiing, snow tubing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, snow cat tours, night skiing. 10 Snowshoe Drive, Snowshoe, WV 26209, 877-441-4FUN. Web:

Timberline Four Season Resort – 3,268-foot summit with 1,000-foot vertical drop, 36 slopes and trails, 4 lifts, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ski and snowboard school, equipment rentals, children’s program, NASTAR racing. Located in Davis, WV 26260, 800-SNOWING. Web:

Winterplace Ski Resort – 3,600-foot summit with 603 foot vertical drop, 28 slopes and trails, 9 lifts, equipment rentals, PSIA ski school, children’s program, snow tubing, night skiing. 100 Old Flat Top Mountain Road, Ghent WV 25843, 800-607-SNOW, 304-787-3221. Web:


Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort is located in the resort town of Gatlinburg in the Great Smoky Mountains. Access to the resort is via America’s largest aerial tramway. The resort is especially appealing to vacationers who want to combine a ski trip with shopping and visiting other attractions.

Want to know more?

Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort – 3,300-foot summit with 600-foot vertical drop, 8 slopes and trails, 3 lifts, ski school, equipment rentals, night skiing. 1001 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37728, 800-251-9202 or 865-436-5423. Web:
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