Asheville, North Carolina is a four-season adventurer’s paradise with some of the nation’s best trails in the summer and quality skiing during the wintertime. Its local ski resorts are hidden gems well worth checking out.
Often considered a backpacking mecca and a warm-weather town (and a fantastic place to be during fall), there’s no bad time to visit. The ski season in North Carolina runs from November to early April, but ski quality will depend on where in the state you are. Sugar Mountain is popular among skiers, but if you’re looking for the highest point available, you need to head to Beech Mountain.
The nice thing about Asheville is that there are plenty of ski resorts suitable for all levels of skiers. Plus you can relax in the evening, after spending your day on the slopes, with some of the best craft brews around.
Here are the seven closest ski resorts to Asheville, in order of proximity:
Wolf Ridge Ski Resort – Mars Hill: 32 mi | 45 min
Wolf Ridge has been around since the late ’60s and is the go-to place for skiing near Asheville. While all of the Asheville area ski resorts require bit of driving to get to, this one is ideal if you’re looking to stay near the city.
There are 14 ski runs at Wolf Ridge from four total lifts: one quad, one double, and a pair of moving carpets. Four are aimed at beginners, nine are intermediate level, and the last two are for advanced skiers.
Wolf Ridge boasts a 4,000-foot base height and a peak at 4,700 feet, giving you up to 700 feet of vertical drop. There are 54 total acres with 100% snowmaking capabilities. Night skiing is available here.
For beginners, Wolf Ridge has an on-site ski school that offers private and group lessons for skiers and snowboarders. Ski and snowboard rentals are offered, with snowboard rentals being slightly more expensive. Note that while you can rent most snow gear, Wolf Ridge does not rent gloves or goggles, though they are available for purchase.
578 Valley View Circle, Mars Hill, NC 28754 (Map) | (828) 689-4111
Cataloochee Ski Area – Maggie Valley: 40 mi | 1 hr
With a name that just fits the Great Smoky region perfectly, the Cataloochee Ski Area isn’t too far outside of Asheville. Two different types of snowmaking guns cover 100% of the slopes to ensure a consistent base of snow during the season.
This local staple has 18 total runs with one quad lift, one triple lift, one double chair (featuring midway unloading and loading), and two moving carpets. This breaks down to seven runs for beginners, seven for the intermediates, and three for expert riders.
The base is up there at Cataloochee Ski Area, starting at 4,660 feet and peaking at 5,400 feet, making for a maximum vertical drop of 740 feet. Night skiing is available throughout the entire season, including weekends and most holidays.
Beginner group and private lessons are available with a separate section of the ski school aimed at children ages four through twelve. Rental gear and clothing are available on-site; however, gloves and goggles are not offered.
1080 Ski Lodge Road, Maggie Valley, NC 28751 (Map) | (828) 926-0285
Ski Sapphire Valley Resort – Sapphire: 60 mi | 1.5 hr
This is a quirky ski spot with an energy all its own. It opened its first run in 1964 and Ski Sapphire Valley is home of the Great Outhouse Race. Don’t worry if you miss this event; you’re sure to have a fun time whenever you visit!
Ski Sapphire Valley is a small and intimate resort with just three total lifts comprised of one quad chair and two T-style surface lifts. There are two slopes here, both offering night skiing, with one beginner and one intermediate runs. The base is 3,200 feet in elevation with a summit at 3,450 feet, giving you a 250-foot vertical drop, with 100% snowmaking available.
With a projected opening in mid-December and a projected closing in early March, you’ll find a shorter ski season here than average. Ski Sapphire Valley is aimed mainly at beginners, families, and people who want to experience the resort’s unique activities.
127 Cherokee Trail, Sapphire, NC 28774 (Map) | (828) 743-7663
Sugar Mountain Resort – Sugar Mtn: 73 mi | 1.5 hr
Sugar Mountain Ski Resort is one of the most popular ski destinations in and around Asheville. Like a number of Asheville-area ski spots, this was founded in the late 1960s and is still going strong to this day!
It opens around Thanksgiving and closes for the season near the end of March, so you’ll be able to take full advantage of North Carolina’s ski season. The base of Sugar Mountain is at 4,100 feet, and the peak is one of the higher ones on this list, coming in at 5,300 feet with the longest run around 1.5 miles.
There are 125 total skiable acres that feature 21 slopes serviced by eight ski lifts. Fifteen slopes are available for night skiing. There are eight slopes rated for beginners, nine for intermediate, one rated difficult, two rated for experts, and one double black diamond, and the resort boasts 100% snowmaking capacity.
For beginners and children, Sugar Mountain offers a ski school as well as group and private lessons. Rental gear is available, but helmets and goggles are not for rental. If you’re there in March, you can take advantage of Sugar Mountain’s March Madness pricing, which begins after March 7th.
1009 Sugar Mountain Dr., Sugar Mountain, NC 28604 (Map) | (828) 898-452
Beech Mountain Resort – Beech Mtn: 80 mi | 1.75 hr
Another gift of the 1960’s snow sports initiative in North Carolina is the Beech Mountain Resort. Founded in 1967, Beech Mountain is the highest ski area not just in the state but also in the entire eastern US.
There are 17 trails available served by three quad lifts, three double chair lifts, one magic carpet, and one rope tow, with night skiing until 10:00 pm. The resort has 95 skiable acres with a base elevation of 4,675 feet and a towering peak elevation of 5,506, offering 830 feet of vertical descent.
Also on the campus is a terrain park for those not looking to take on the more than 5,000-foot peak. There is 100% slope coverage for snowmaking at the resort.
Rentals are available for gear and clothing, with the exception of goggles and gloves. Uniquely, you can demo ski wax and edges in the resort shop.
For beginners, private and group lessons are available. There are five different youth programs available for different ages and abilities.
1007 Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain, NC 28604 (Map) | (828) 387-2011
Ober Gatlinburg – Gatlinburg, TN: 88 mi | 2.25 hr
You may have to cross state lines to get to one of the best skiing near Asheville, but you won’t be going too far. Ober Gatlinburg is a fun stop year-round and a great place to get a ski session in. Ober Gatlinburg is truly a winter wonderland with activities including skiing, tubing, and ice bumper cars.
Four lifts service 10 slopes here, and Ober Gatlinburg loves to talk about their 100% snowmaking capability on them. The base elevation is 2,682 feet, while the peak is at 3,455 feet, making for 773 feet of vertical descent.
Night skiing is available from 5:00-9:00 pm seven days a week. There is also a terrain park for skiers who prefer a park setting.
If you want to get started skiing, Over Gatlinburg offers both group and private lessons. While you can rent skis and boots, there are only a limited number of helmets, jackets, and pants. Goggles and gloves are not available.
1339 Ski Mountain Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738 (Map) | (865) 436-5423
Appalachian Ski Mtn – Blowing Rock: 93 mi | 1.75 hr
Our last entry follows the theme of the 1960’s North Carolina snow sports boom. Founded in 1968 after a previous ski resort at the location had gone out of business, Appalachian Ski Mountain has been in operation for more than 50 years.
Appalachian Ski Mountain has 12 slopes with six lifts available. There are three easy, six intermediate, and three difficult runs.
Night skiing is available at Appalachian Ski Mountain, with lifts going until 10:00 pm. Occasionally Appalachian will have Midnight Blast events, so be sure to check the calendar for even later night skiing.
Appalachian Ski Mountain has invested heavily in its snowmaking and offers complete coverage. The base elevation is 3,635 feet with a peak of 4,000 feet, giving you a 365-foot vertical drop.
Unlike others, Appalachian Ski Mountain offers rentals that include goggles and gloves, in addition to the standard gear you would expect to find. For lessons, there are options for two levels of beginners as well as an intermediate course, all offered in either group or private settings.
With a projected season that mimics North Carolina’s snow season, you should be able to ski at Appalachian Ski Mountain from November to March.
940 Ski Mountain Rd, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 (Map) | (828) 295-7828
There truly is no bad time to be in Asheville, North Carolina, but in the winter, the ski resorts on this list are the best around and offer nearby accommodations. The town is hard to beat if you want to enjoy a mountain sunrise before a long day on the slopes.