Charlotte, located near North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, is close to half a dozen ski resorts all within reasonable driving distance. Each is 2 to 3 hours away, which may not be ideal for a day trip, but are excellent for a brief getaway.
Most of the resorts are located in the vicinity of Beech Mountain, which annually receives the highest amount of snow in the state. The resorts all use manmade snow as a backup, but most rely on a natural base topped by many feet of fresh snowfall throughout the season for an ideal ski experience.
Appalachian Mtn – Blowing Rock: 97 miles | 2 hours
Appalachian Ski Mountain has retained its quaint atmosphere despite being one of the oldest ski areas in North Carolina. It’s also one of the smallest, but still has 4 lifts, taking visitors to 9 slopes and 3 terrain parks located on different areas of the mountain. The resort is close to several charming small towns, which makes it easy to find a unique place to stay for several days.
For those who prefer to stay on the mountain, the ski area owns several slope-side accommodations. There are also reservation-only hookups for RVs and motor homes in the parking lot.. Properties for rent are listed on the resort website.
Ski Sugar – Sugar Mountain: 110 miles | 2.25 hours
As the largest resort in North Carolina, Sugar Mountain Resort truly has something for everyone at all times of the year. Beyond skiing, the area has snow tubing, snowshoeing and ice skating on rinks that double as tennis courts in the summer months. But the skiing is spectacular here.
The 125 acres of ski area encompasses 21 slopes, 8 lifts and the largest vertical drop in the Blue Ridge Mountains, at 1,200 feet. The slopes are steeper and more challenging than most other resorts in the area, with mostly blue and black runs. Green runs are available at the lower part of the mountain with a terrain park midway up.
The Village of Sugar Mountain at the ski resort base has plenty of restaurants, ski rental shops and accommodations, plus a free village shuttle bus transports visitors and residents from condos and rentals to the ski lodge.
Beech Resort – Beech Mountain: 119 miles | 2.5 hours
With 17 slopes and a separated terrain park, Beech Mountain has a wide variety for all abilities. Three-fourths of the runs are blue or black, so it’s a more challenging location than some other resorts.
Although just 10 miles from Sugar Mountain, Beech Mountain is considered the snowiest mountain in the state and is at the highest elevation. In fact, at 5,506 feet, it’s the highest ski area in the eastern United States.
The resort has 95 acres of skiable terrain, with 17 slopes, 8 lifts and a terrain park. The park continually rotates features to keep things interesting, and has obstacles for different levels of capability, so freestylers can learn and advance.
Wolf Ridge – Mars Hill: 154 miles | 2.75 hours
Although it’s located a bit away from the other ski areas, Wolf Ridge Ski Resort is one of the most accessible, located just 5 miles from I-26. The resort is set on 54 acres of ski terrain with 5 lifts and 15 runs, most of which are blue.
The lodge at the base of the mountain has a cafeteria, ski shop, rental shop, and many fireplaces with comfortable seating to watch skiers make their descent. While there are plenty of places to stay in the vicinity of Wolf Ridge, the closest options are rental properties or cabins. Most offer incredible views of the area and many come with additional amenities, like hot tubs.
Cataloochee – Maggie Valley: 155 miles | 3 hours
The Cataloochee Ski Area is nicely divided, with the upper part of the mountain designed for advanced skiers and the bottom half filled with easy runs for those beginning their ski and snowboarding experience.
Although it has 50 acres and 18 runs, the resort has an intimate feel. The lodge at the base of the mountain has a cafeteria with the same hours as the ski area, and a rental shop with everything from helmets and jackets to snowboards and boots.
Cataloochee Ski Area offers special discounts on Family Days, Women on Wednesdays and Homeschool Days, as well as discounted and free tickets for seniors. The resort is part of the Indy Pass program, a group of 82 independently run resorts in the U.S., Canada, and Japan. Pass holders can access each of these resorts for 2 days per season.
Sapphire Valley – Sapphire: 147 miles | 3 hours
Sapphire Valley, a 5,700 acre resort, has dozens of activities throughout the year, such as boating, hiking, golf, and tennis. In the winter, guests can enjoy skiing and tubing at the Sapphire Valley Ski Area, which comprises a very small section of the resort’s acreage.
While it only has 2 runs – 1 for beginners and 1 that’s slightly more advanced – the ski area is ideal for anyone who would like to learn to ski in a relaxed atmosphere. Visitors are invited to bring their own lunches and dine at picnic tables near 5 pits or they can enjoy a meal at the on-site tavern.
The resort doesn’t take itself too seriously, it hosts fun activities such as the annual Great Outhouse Races. In this race, teams construct their own outhouse on skis and race downhill in one of Sapphire Valley’s most popular and amusing events.
Winterplace – Ghent, WV: 192 miles | 3 hours
The unincorporated town of Ghent, West Virginia, is known for receiving some of the highest snowfall in the state. Less than a mile to the south is Winterplace Ski Resort, noted for its easy access and easy runs for beginning skiers.
Roughly three-quarters of the 90-acre ski area’s 27 slopes are designed for novice skiers, making it one of the most ideal resorts for learning. One perk for beginners is the ski or snowboard package, which includes a lift ticket, lesson, and all rental equipment. With half-day ski school packages for children, parents can have their own private time on the slopes.
Winterplace also has the state’s largest snow tube park, at 14 lanes. Children must be at least 44 inches tall to participate, and the separate park for shorter kiddos is not always available. Dining options are located at the bottom and midpoint of the mountain.
Many of these resorts operate from late November through mid-March, but warm temperatures and rain can quickly deplete a ski area’s base, or impact its snow-making abilities. Check with each resort’s website for hours and operating dates in advance.
In summer and fall, North Carolina’s mountains are excellent for multiple activities, but the fun doesn’t stop in the winter. Whether it’s a quaint family experience or a major resort, explore the many ski areas near Charlotte for outdoor entertainment all year long.