The 5 Best Ski Resorts in North Carolina

The 5 Best Ski Resorts in North Carolina- UPDATED 2020/2021
Karl Sander
Written by Karl Sander / Photos by Jack Lee
Last updated August 13, 2020
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While the size and skiing of North Carolina resorts aren’t comparable to resorts in the West, the state’s western mountains is home to a handful of ski areas that are great for scratch the skiing itch or trying skiing for the first time. We’ve asked around and compiled the best ski resorts in North Carolina!

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Known for

North Carolina’s biggest ski area with the most vertical

Highlights

  • Relatively good terrain variety
  • Best resort in North Carolina for advanced skiers
  • 1,200 ft vertical makes it comparable to medium sized western resorts
  • Lack of natural snow and variable conditions

Closest airports

Tri-Cities Regional Airport - 58 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport - 108 mi (2 hour drive)
Picture perfect skiing among the trees (Photo credit: Sugar Mountain Resort)

Not only does Sugar Mountain have the largest ski area and vertical drop in the state but it also has the best and most varied terrain. There’s more advanced runs here than anywhere else in the region. Unreliable natural snow means varying snow conditions here, though the resort is continually improving its snowmaking efforts. There are plenty of other things to do including tubing, snowshoeing, and skating on a 10,000 sqft ice rink. Quicker to get to from major cities than Beech Mountain, and with better terrain than Appalachian, it’s no surprise that Sugar Mountain can draw big crowds. There are slopeside condos and homes as well as hotels in the village, plus an even more options in Banner Elk.

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Known for

The highest ski resort in the East

Highlights

  • Rare crowds
  • Excellent snowmaking and grooming
  • Glass roundhouse skybar at mountaintop
  • Short runs and inconsistent weather conditions

Closest airports

Tri-Cities Regional Airport - 59 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport - 117 mi (2.5 hour drive)
Enjoy uncrowded runs at Beech Mountain (Photo credit: Beech Mountain Resort) 

With a summit of 5,505 ft, Beech Mountain takes the crown for highest ski resort in the East! While the 17 runs are short you can ski into the night with lighting and snowmaking covering all the terrain. The upgraded chairlifts keep visitors moving, so crowds and lines are rare. Even the buildings have been renovated over the years. There’s also a tubing park as well as a skating rink. Enjoy a drink at the mountaintop glass roundhouse skybar or head down to the unique Beech Mountain Brewing Company in the village, a two-level taproom with large fireplace. Other eating, drinking and accommodation options can be found in the town of Beech Mountain and Banner Elk.

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Known for

North Carolina’s most accessible resort

Highlights

  • Easy to get to from Asheville
  • Well planned trails
  • Family-friendly
  • Limited amenities

Closest airports

Asheville Regional Airport - 44 mi (50 minute drive)
Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport - 148 mi (2.5 hour drive)
Mountain views at Wolf Ridge (Photo credit: Wolf Ridge Ski Resort)

Mere minutes from Interstate 26 and just 40 minutes from Asheville, Wolf Ridge Ski Resort is the easiest destination on our list to reach making it an easy day or weekend trip. Along with convenience and reasonable prices, this small resort can get crowded quickly. Night skiing is available across the 15 runs and there’s a tubing hill less than 1 mi away. You’ll find comfortable town homes and cabins conveniently near the resort, and there’s even an enclosed heated pool. For more lodging and dining options, head to Asheville. That’s also where you’ll need to go for a drink since Wolf Ridge doesn’t have a bar. 

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Known for

Consistently one of the first areas in the region to open each season

Highlights

  • Amazing scenery
  • Great snowmaking
  • Good value
  • Crowds

Closest airports

Asheville Regional Airport - 44 mi (55 minute drive)
Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport - 148 mi (2.5 hour drive)
Looking over the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (Photo credit: Cataloochee)

Cataloochee, with its panoramic views of the famous Great Smoky Mountain National Park, boasts snowmaking efforts that result in one of the region’s longest ski seasons. Its convenient access from Asheville as well as towns in Tennessee and South Carolina can sometimes make for crowded conditions, especially since there are only 50 ac of skiable terrain. But with the great value – including free skiing for seniors – you can hardly blame all those people for coming! All 18 runs are covered by lights and snowmaking, though the local climate means that despite the staff’s best efforts the snow quality can vary. The charming little town of Maggie Valley nearby offers a range of lodging and restaurant options with a few local bars to enjoy.

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Known for

Family-run and family-friendly

Highlights

  • Closest to major markets like Winston-Salem and Charlotte
  • Great place for beginners
  • Affordable
  • Very small size with no on-mountain après

Closest airports

Tri-Cities Regional Airport - 74 mi (2 hour drive)
Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport - 90 mi (2 hour drive)
A great resort for beginner skiers (Photo credit: Appalachian Ski Mountain)

With its benign terrain, low prices, welcoming atmosphere and relatively easy access from Winston-Salem and Charlotte, Appalachian Ski Mountain is a good place for beginners to take up the sport. The resort’s 27 ac of skiable area mean novices can’t get too lost or too far out of their depth. Of course, it doesn’t offer as much for advanced or expert skiers, though there are three terrain parks for freestylers. Like most of the rest of the resorts in the area, snowmaking covers all the skiable terrain, and the mountain is also lit for light skiing. There are lodging options including cabin rentals next to the slopes and an even broader selection in nearby Blowing Rock.

The 5 Best Ski Resorts in North Carolina- UPDATED 2020/2021
Sugar Mountain Resort
Beech Mountain
Wolf Ridge
Cataloochee
Appalachian Ski Mountain
Sugar Mountain Resort