Atlanta has an endless number of things to do for winter entertainment, from light extravaganzas at the Botanical Garden to a nighttime campfire at Stone Mountain. One thing you won’t find in Georgia is a ski resort, due to its mild temperatures and virtually no snowfall. In fact, Atlanta only experiences about 45 to 50 days of below-freezing temperatures, making skiing nearly impossible!
Thankfully for all the snow lovers, its neighboring states, Alabama and North Carolina, offer plenty to do in the way of snow sports and they’re all within a 4-hour drive from Atlanta.
If you’re looking for privacy and beginner-friendly terrain, Cloudmont Ski and Golf Resort is the spot for you. For the seasoned skier looking for a thrill, you’ll be right at home at Cataloochee Ski Area. Whatever your experience level, you’re bound to find what you need in 1 of these 4 unique ski resorts we’re about to explore.
Before heading to the slopes be sure to check out Atlanta’s premier ski shop, Rocky Mountain Ski & Board, for all your skiing needs from skiing/snowboarding equipment to clothes and goggles.
Here are the 4 closest ski resorts to Atlanta, GA, in order of proximity:
Cloudmont Resort – Mentone, AL: 111 miles | 2 hours
This 4-season retreat was opened in 1970 and offers the perfect, uncrowded, year-round playground for those that cherish their privacy but still want to get some ski action in for the winter.
Thanks to advanced snowmaking equipment, their ski slopes are open and fully operational once the temperatures fall below 28°, enabling snowmaking to commence.
Lookout Mountain has a top elevation of 1,800 feet and a 150-foot vertical drop. Its 2 1,000-foot beginner/intermediate slopes provide a great place for new skiers or those who just want to improve their skills.
Private and group on-site personal ski instructions are offered to all ages and abilities. And don’t worry about having all the equipment to start with, since they offer on-site equipment rentals with everything you need: skis, boots, poles, snowboards, and more.
Cloudmont Ski and Golf Resort also features a variety of chalet and cabin rentals year-round along the golf course, ski slopes, and the Little River. For food, Mentone and the surrounding areas have a variety of restaurants to choose from, or you can bring food and drinks along with you.
This resort gives you the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty and crisp mountain air around you. It’s truly the ultimate way to spend the weekend or even just a day surrounded by the serenity of Lookout Mountain.
721 County Road 614, Mentone, AL 35984 (map) | (256) 634-4344
Sapphire Valley – Sapphire, NC: 143 miles | 2.5 hours
Ski Sapphire Valley, positioned in one of the most scenic corners of the Blue Ridge Mountains, has been in business since 1964. It’s one of the closest ski resorts to Atlanta, GA, offering big-city residents a quick mountain getaway with plenty of snow sports to enjoy.
Skiing in the southeast of the US can be tricky, since temperatures tend to fluctuate widely in the wintertime. But on average, they’re open mid-November to early April, weather permitting.
This area of North Carolina only gets about 14.5 inches of snowfall per season, but that’s no problem considering they have the latest in snowmaking technology. Each slope is covered with an average of 24 to 50 inches of snow at any given time, as long as temperatures are below 28°.
Whether your thing is skiing, snowboarding, tubing, ice-skating, or zip-lining, Ski Sapphire Valley has exactly what you need for some winter family fun. Discounts are provided for groups of 10 or more skiers or snowboarders.
Frozen Falls Tube Park features a 500-foot run with a 60-foot vertical drop for everyone ages 2 and up. Keep in mind tubing sessions are on a first-come, first-serve basis, and tend to sell out, so make sure to hit the slopes early for the best experience.
The main ski hill has a moderate slope that’s 1,600 feet long with a 200-foot vertical drop, making this the perfect slope for intermediate skiers, youth, and beginners.
If you’re new to skiing, start your trip off right with a lesson from a Sapphire Ski Area instructor. Their learning facility features a bunny/learning slope with an easy-ride moving carpet lift and plenty of room to practice.
They offer both private and group lessons for skiing and snowboarding. Ski School is available for everyone ages 5 and up. Four-year-olds are taught in a separate 1-on-1 lesson.
And we can’t forget the food! Dining at Sapphire Valley is made easy and there’s something for the whole family, from awesome pizza and wings to world-class tapas, steak, and seafood. Located at the bottom of the slope is the Four Seasons Grill, which offers appetizers, sandwiches, and dinner entrées for a quick après-ski meal.
For all the history buffs, a must-try restaurant is the Library Kitchen and Bar, located in an old farmhouse built in 1864, making it the oldest structure in Sapphire Valley. You’re also welcome to bring your lunch and beverages, as they have a large community center with plenty of tables, seats, and a fire pit with wraparound seating, in case you need to warm up.
Wanting to enjoy the snow for more than a day? Two and 3-day ski passes are available, and they have plenty of lodging options available, from tiny homes to mountain lodges.
127 Cherokee Trail, Sapphire, NC 28774 (map) | (828) 743-7663
Cataloochee – Maggie Valley, NC: 181 miles| 3 hours
Cataloochee Ski Area, in the Great Smoky Mountains, opened in 1961 in Maggie Valley, NC. This resort features state-of-the-art snowmaking machines with 100% coverage, which makes it possible for them to be open an average of 125 days from early November to late March. They’re known for having one of the longest ski seasons in the southeast.
Enjoy 50 acres of skiable terrain at 5,400 feet of elevation, a whopping 740-foot vertical drop, on-site equipment rentals, and the Ski and Ride School, not to mention the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain peaks that make riding any of the lifts a true privilege.
You will have a blast skiing or snowboarding on any one of the 18 runs available. With about 44% of them beginner-friendly (8 runs), 39% intermediate (7 runs), and 17% advanced (3 runs), there’s a little something for the whole family, plus, all the runs feature lights for night skiing.
The Easy Way and Rabbit Hill runs are geared toward beginners and give new skiers elbow room to learn the basics and practice their skills, Rock Island Run and lower Omigosh offer plenty of action for intermediate skiers, and naturally, Upper Omigosh is reserved for the seasoned skier.
For those truly looking for a thrill, you’ll be right at home at the Cat Cage Terrain Park which features ramps, rails, boxes, jibs, and jumps.
If skiing or snowboarding isn’t your thing, Tube World delivers endless family fun you can depend on with 5 lanes and a convenient conveyor lift to help you and your family get to the top of the run effortlessly.
Cataloochee Ski Area offers big discounts on lift tickets and rentals to groups of 15 or more people, but be sure to make reservations ahead of time, as they have limited availability. Also, children 4 and under get a free lift with a ticketed adult; kids 17 and younger receive a free lift any non-holiday Monday when a parent purchases a full-price ticket.
Need lessons or just need to polish up your skills? Utilize their Ski and Ride School, which offers lessons for all ages and experience levels with a separate kids program for ages 4-12. Their secluded ski school area, called Wolf Creek Hollow, is the perfect place to introduce children to winter sports.
You may choose to eat on site at their cafeteria that serves a variety of items, including burgers, fries, hotdogs, soups, chili, wraps, salads, pizzas, as well as homemade specials, or explore the town of Maggie Valley and enjoy one of the many restaurants there.
There are also plenty of lodging options whether you’re looking for a rustic cabin or comfy hotel room — you’ll find just what you need to make for an amazing winter stay.
1080 Ski Lodge Rd, Maggie Valley, NC 28751 (map) | (828) 926-0285
Wolf Ridge Resort – Mars Hill, NC: 227 miles| 4 hours
This resort is nestled in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. Opened in 1969, it’s known as North Carolina’s most accessible ski slopes and premier snowsports facility. You’ll love your winter getaway at this resort. They have around 140 snowmaking guns which allow their runs to be covered with snow at a depth between 26 to 54 inches.
At Wolf Ridge Ski Resort, you can expect to discover 54 acres of skiable terrain divided into 15 trails with a top elevation of 4,700 feet and a 700-foot vertical drop. There are a total of 4 beginner runs, 8 intermediate runs, and 3 expert runs, all with lighted slopes that allow you to enjoy the snow, day or night.
Whether you like to ski, tube, or snowboard, Wolf Ridge is guaranteed to meet all your needs. The Tube Run is located just half a mile from the slopes and provides a perfect way for the whole family, young and old, to enjoy the fun.
Their top-rated Snow Sports School is a perfect place to start your adventure! It offers both private and group lessons for beginner to intermediate skiers and snowboarders with trained instructors to provide you with the highest quality lessons, with safety as a priority.
Ages 5-7 get private lessons, and ages 8 and up may choose to participate in either group or private lessons. Snow Sports School also gives skiers the chance to get familiar with the ski equipment and a feel for the mountain.
After a long day of skiing, relax at their rustic lodge overlooking the mountains. It has 3 stone fireplaces that give skiers the chance to warm up, and a cafeteria-style grill that offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s also a gift shop, a rental shop, and a group sales department.
This resort features stay-and-ski packages, which give you great discounts on skiing if you choose to stay in one of their special townhouses. Whether you’re looking for a mountain cabin or classic hotel, you’ll find it there in Mars Hill, NC.
578 Valley View Cr, Mars Hill, NC 28754 (map) | (828) 689-4111
These 4 ski resorts closest to Atlanta, GA, offer all you need to enjoy some winter snow sports. With premier skiing and breathtaking views, you can’t go wrong skiing in the southeast!