You don’t have to travel to Colorado or Michigan for skiing and snowboarding adventures; ski resorts in the southeast also satisfy winter sports enthusiasts. Beginners can build confidence on the conveyor belt lifts that slowly carry them up low-incline slopes. No snow? No problem. When the temperature drops below freezing, these resorts make their own.
Appalachian Ski Mountain
Blowing Rock, NC
This midsize ski resort offers slopes, three freestyle terrain parks (featuring such obstacles as bumps, rails and ramps) and an outdoor ice-skating rink. Illuminated slopes keep the fun going after sunset. Don’t miss the stunning mountain vista from the Bavarian-style lodge’s dining room windows and wide observation deck. For an entertaining dinner, head to Boone where the chefs at AAA Two Diamond Makoto’s Japanese Steak House & Shushi Bar prepare teppanyaki at your table. Stroll next door to AAA Two Diamond Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott-Boone where you can get a good night’s sleep on luxury bedding and a complimentary breakfast.
Beech Mountain Resort
Beech Mountain, NC
Located 6 miles north of Sugar Mountain, this immense resort features slopes, a terrain park, a snow tubing run and an outdoor ice-skating rink. They also offer night skiing. Alpine Village offers everything from a cafeteria to shops. If you want heartier fare than burgers and cafeteria food, the AAA Two Diamond Stone Walls, in nearby Banner Elk, features grilled steaks and seafood. Belly full, rest your weary bones on a plump feather bed at the AAA Three Diamond Best Western Mountain Lodge at Banner Elk, nestled between Beech Mountain Resort and Sugar Mountain Resort.
Cataloochee Ski Area
Maggie Valley, NC
This huge resort’s high elevation in the Great Smoky Mountains keeps snow frozen longer than at some southeastern resorts. Show off your freestyle skills at Cat Cage Terrain Park. When the sun goes down, enjoy night skiing fun. The Cat Lodge provides a respite from the cold with a cozy fireplace and a restaurant. Budget-conscious travelers will appreciate a short drive to the AAA Two Diamond Legends Sports Grill where they can fill up on burgers and a large variety of hot wings while the kids play in the game room. Next door, the AAA Two Diamond Best Wester Mountainbrook Inn features mountain-view rooms and a complimentary breakfast.
Cloudmont Ski & Golf Resort
This small resort is the only ski area in Alabama. The rope tow lifts (metal handles spaced out along a rope) pull you to the top of the side-by-side slopes with a 150-foot vertical height that are suitable for beginner to intermediate skiers and snowboarders. Arrive early to ensure rental equipment is available.
Take a perilous drive up the mountainside to the base of this midsize resort, or ride the aerial tramway from downtown while admiring breathtaking vistas of the Great Smoky Mountains. A snow tubing run adds to the winter fun. There are also amusement rides, an arcade, mini golf, an alpine slide and an alpine coaster with nearly 4,000 feet of track. After a busy day, travel back down the mountain to the AAA Two Diamond Bearskin Lodge on the River and ask for a room with a fireplace, a hot tub and a balcony overlooking Cliff Branch river. Next door, the AAA Two Diamond The Peddler Steakhouse offers aged beef and char-grilled entrées.
Sapphire Valley Ski Area
About 60 miles southwest of Asheville, this tiny resort offers low incline slopes that are perfect for learning winter sports as well as a snow tubing park with a wide lane allowing multiple riders to simultaneously ride downhill. Winter zipline tours give riders the thrill of soaring past the trees and slopes on three courses with magnificent views of surrounding mountains and rocky outcroppings. If you’re too exhausted after all this winter fun or just want a short trip to return to the resort the following day, the AAA Three Diamond Hampton Inn & Suites-Cashiers/Sapphire Valley/Highlands is less than half a mile away and features stunning mountain views and a complimentary hot breakfast.
Sugar Mountain, NC
The panorama is spectacular from this resort at the summit of mile-high Sugar Mountain, 6 miles south of Beech Mountain. This large resort features slopes, a terrain park, a snow tubing run and an outdoor ice-skating rink, and offers night skiing. Guided snowshoe tours on select days complete this winter playground. Grab a bite at the lodge restaurant, or imbibe warm cocktails while appreciating picturesque views from the lounge. For a spicy dining alternative in nearby Banner Elk, the AAA Three Diamond Louisiana Purchase offers Creole and Cajun dishes.