Gatlinburg is well-known as Tennessee’s gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, which also means it’s close to a number of ski resorts located along this part of Appalachia. One is situated in Gatlinburg’s backyard while the others are in nearby North Carolina and West Virginia.
Whether they’re 15 minutes or 4 hours away, there are many possibilities for skiing near this Smokey Mountain town.
Ober Gatlinburg – Gatlinburg: 4 miles | 13 minutes
The closest ski area is Ober Gatlinburg, located at the top of Mount Harrison. The resort is appropriately named “Ober,” the German word for “upper,” by its position at the top of the mountain. Visitors may drive to Ober Gatlinburg or opt to take the aerial tram, both about 10 minutes from downtown Gatlinburg.
The resort has 10 trails for skiing and snowboarding on 38 acres and sponsors weekly downhill racing events. Although the area only receives about 35 inches of snow annually, there are snowmaking abilities on every run.
Accommodations aren’t available adjacent to the ski area, however, there are plenty of nearby choices and the resort makes up for it with an abundance of shopping, dining, and entertainment. The bumper cars, ski mountain coaster, carousel, and ice skating are among the off-slope activities.
1339 Ski Mountain Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738 (map) | (865) 436-5423 | obergatlinburg.com
Cataloochee – Maggie Valley, NC: 64 miles | 1.5 hours
Following the Smokies to the east and into North Carolina is Cataloochee Ski Area. The resort has 18 trails and a mid-mountain terrain park. There’s plenty of snow in the mountainous resort, with a top elevation of 5,400 feet. Forty-four percent of Cataloochee’s trails are beginner, 39 percent are intermediate, and 17 percent are advanced, on 50 skiable acres.
Cataloochee’s rental shop has everything a skier or snowboarder could use, including helmets and jackets. The resort has on-site dining but no lodging, so time here is best spent as a day trip from Gatlinburg.
1080 Ski Lodge Rd., Maggie Valley, NC 28751 (map) | (828) 926-0285 | cataloochee.com
Wolf Ridge – Mars Hill, NC: 96 miles | 2 hours
Wolf Ridge Ski Resort is one of the most accessible ski areas in the region, located just off I-26. The resort has 72 acres of skiable terrain and 15 slopes. Half of the slopes are blue, with 4 green, and 3 black diamond runs. Wolf Ridge offers affordable skiing and lessons for the entire family. Lift ticket and rental discounts, half-day passes, and night skiing options are all offered to make skiing affordable.
Dining is available at the base of the resort. For anyone hoping to stay overnight, slopeside cabins with spectacular views are available for rent.
578 Valley View Cir., Mars Hill, NC 28754 (map) | (828) 689-4111 | skiwolfridgenc.com
Beech Mountain Ski Resort – NC: 151 miles | 3 hours
A bit further from Gatlinburg is Beech Mountain Ski Resort. At an elevation of more than 5,000 feet, this area is one of the snowiest spots in the state. The average snowfall is around 84 inches annually. Beech Mountain’s 95 acres include 17 trails and 2 terrain parks. From group tickets to early- and late-season discounts, the resort keeps skiing reasonably priced for all ages.
Beyond skiing, the resort has a brewery, ice skating, and tubing on site. Although there are no accommodations, the resort offers packages for nearby rentals that include shuttle service.
1007 Beech Mountain Pkwy., Beech Mountain, NC 28604 (map) | (800) 438-2093 | beechmountainresort.com
Sugar Mountain Resort – NC: 150 miles | 3 hours
Twenty minutes from Beech Mountain Ski Resort is Sugar Mountain Resort. With 125 acres of skiable terrain and a vertical drop of 1,200 feet, the resort is one of the more challenging ski areas in North Carolina. There are 20 trails and a terrain park, of which 8 are beginner, 8 are intermediate, and 4 are expert.
The resort receives an average of 78 inches of snowfall each year but has seen more than 100 inches. Sugar Mountain Resort has snowmaking capabilities to make up for any shortage from Mother Nature. There aren’t accommodations on site, but activities include snowshoeing, ice skating, and snow tubing for entertainment during the day.
1009 Sugar Mountain Rd., Sugar Mountain, NC 28604 (map) | (828) 898-4521 | skisugar.com
Appalachian Ski Mountain – NC: 168 miles | 3 hours
A bit further to the east is Appalachian Ski Mountain. The resort’s 9 runs are equally divided by difficulty and there are 3 terrain parks. Although it’s one of the state’s smallest ski areas, it’s also one of the oldest and has retained its original charm. The resort packs a lot of punch into its 27 acres.
There is no on-site lodging, but there are dining options on the mountain. The resort sees less snow and is at a lower elevation than Beech Mountain, however, it’s a family-friendly resort with affordable options for students, educators, seniors, and those in the military.
940 Ski Mountain Rd., Blowing Rock, NC 28605 (map) | (828) 295-7828 | appskimtn.com
Winterplace – Ghent, WV: 243 miles | 4 hours
Four hours northeast of Gatlinburg is Winterplace Ski Resort. Located in West Virginia in the southern part of the Allegheny Mountains, it’s one of the largest ski areas in the region, with more than 90 skiable acres. It features 27 trails and the largest snow tubing park in the state, as well as 14 lanes of tubing and 2 carpet lifts, although children must be a minimum of 44 inches to ride.
Winterplace has a learning area for beginner skiers with lessons designed for ages 6 and up. Nearly 40 percent of the runs are beginner and 40 percent are intermediate, but there are still some expert runs for skilled skiers and snowboarders. The longest run is more than a mile long and night skiing is available at the terrain park on all but one slope.
100 Old Flat Mountain Rd., Ghent, WV 25843 (map) | (304) 787-3221 | winterplace.com
For those living in and around Gatlinburg, there are a lot of ski areas accessible for a weekend or overnight trip. Although there’s only one ski area in Tennessee, driving to North Carolina or West Virginia is a great way to find more places to ski and snowboard.