Guide to Alabama’s Only Ski Resort
It may be hard for some to believe, but even Alabama has a ski resort. Cloudmont Ski & Golf Resort near the DeSoto State Park is the state’s sole ski area.
The resort is located on Lookout Mountain, part of the Appalachian Mountain range which extends from Alabama into Canada. With high elevation and colder temperatures, many ski areas are located along sections of the range throughout both countries.
Alabama isn’t known for its massive snowfall. The state receives a mere .07 inches of snow on average each year. Even the area around Cloudmont receives only 18 inches annually. Fortunately, winter nights in the Alabama Appalachians are often below freezing. In January the average low temperature is 27 degrees, which gives the snowmaking equipment perfect conditions to create manmade powder.
The best time to ski in Alabama are January and February when temperatures are relatively cold and snowmaking capability is at its peak. That’s also the best chance for fresh snow. The ski season is short, generally opening in mid-December and ending by mid-March.
Cloudmont Ski & Golf Resort
Cloudmont ranks second as the southernmost ski resort in the United States, just behind Mount Lemmon Ski Valley in Arizona. However, it does claim to be the southeastern-most ski area in the country. Cloudmont is located near the borders of Georgia and Tennessee so plenty of residents in those states can easily access the slopes for a day or weekend trip.
The resort is located at an elevation of 1,800 feet above sea level. Cloudmont’s ski area is small, with only two 1,000-foot runs accessed by two tow ropes. The slopes are open daily and for night skiing, and are limited to 275 skiers which helps minimize the impact on the existing snow.
Skiers and snowboarders can rent boots, skis, poles, snowboards, and helmets on location though there are limited supplies so renters are advised to come early. Half-day lift tickets can be purchased individually or as a package with needed equipment.
There’s no dining at the ski area, but the town of Mentone is a short drive away with access to plenty of restaurants. On-site lodging is also limited to chalet rentals on the mountain, some including kitchens.
The property has a nine-hole golf course and a dude ranch, both open year-round.
Making snow in the South
The resort opened in 1970, helped immensely by an invention that had been growing in popularity since its introduction two decades earlier. The snowmaking machine made it possible for resorts to operate when nature didn’t provide snow.
The machines grew in popularity in New England, then the Jones family, owners of Cloudmont, brought the technology to the south and the rest is history. They aim for a base between three and ten feet deep at the beginning of the season, so if the weather is too warm in the fall, skiers may find the following months to be a bit rough.
It’s common for the ski area to be closed sporadically during the season when rain or warm temperatures pass through the area.
Despite the challenges, being able to downhill ski in Alabama is a truly unique experience. It’s a great way to learn the basics then apply them elsewhere, or visit Cloudmont to simply enjoy the wonder of skiing in the deep south.