Hit the Slopes at Winter Sports Resorts

Hit the Slopes at Winter Sports Resorts

Cataloochee Ski Area

North Carolina is home to six full-service ski areas with 89 slopes for all abilities, from beginner to Double Black Diamond, as well as freestyle terrain parks, ice skating, tubing and more.

The winter sports season usually opens mid-November and lasts until late March. With the coldest climates and highest elevations in the South, ski areas can often support snowmaking even when it’s sweater weather at lower elevations.

If you’re a frequent skier, take advantage of the North Carolina Ski Areas Association Gold Card, http://www.goskinc.com/goldcard/ an $800 season pass at all ski areas regardless of weekend or holiday rates.

Here’s a rundown on what awaits this season at North Carolina’s ski areas and other winter sports resorts.

Appalachian Ski Mountain
Blowing Rock
At a glance: 27 acres of skiable terrain with 12 slopes and trails (three beginner, three intermediate, three advanced, three freestyle terrain areas). Peak elevation: 4,000 feet. Vertical drop: 365 feet.

Longest run: 2,640 feet. Lifts include a double and two quads. Resort also features a Zamboni-maintained ice rink.

New this year:

  • Additional snowmaking on two slopes.
  • Expanded schedule for Midnight Blast, the region’s only late-night skiing and riding.

Mark your calendar:

  • 52nd anniversary weekend, Dec. 7 – 8. $5 Day Ski tickets.
  • Skiing with Santa, Dec. 24.
  • Family Day, Feb. 17.
  • Winter Meltdown Games, March 22 – 23.

Beech Mountain Resort
Beech Mountain
At a glance: 95 acres of skiable terrain with 15 slopes and trails (three beginner, six intermediate, four advanced, two freestyle terrain areas). Peak elevation: 5,506 feet – higher than any slope in the East. Vertical drop: 830 feet.

Longest run: 1 mile. Lifts include four doubles, a quad and a high-speed quad with a panoramic vista. With a village ice rink and the Beech Mountain Adaptive Snowsports Center for kids and adults with disabilities.

New this year:

  • A glass-walled sky bar at the summit with food and beverage service.
  • “Learn to Ski Month” offer with $45 lesson/rental/lift ticket package.
  • Continuous hours without session breaks: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday and holidays.
  • 12 new SMI Super PoleCat guns, upping the total to 40 added in the past four years.

Mark your calendar:

  • New Year’s Eve Bash, Dec. 31.
  • WinterFest Weekend, Jan. 10 – 12.
  • Totally ’80s Retro Ski Weekend, Feb. 21 – 23.

Cataloochee Ski Area
Maggie Valley
At a glance: 50 acres of skiable terrain with 17 slopes and trails (eight beginner, six intermediate, three advanced) and one freestyle terrain park. Peak elevation: 5,400 feet. Vertical drop: 740 feet.

Longest run: 3,500 feet (Upper and Lower Snowbird). Lifts include a double, a triple and a quad. Area offers interscholastic and NASTAR recreational race programs. Nearby Tube World features a six-run tubing park and a Wee Bowl Snowplay Area. The Cataloochee Snow School includes an adaptive ski program for adults and children with disabilities.

New this year:

  • New tubing hill lane shaper.
  • Large outdoor deck addition for increased seating capacity slopeside of lodge.
  • New PistenBully groomer.
  • $10 off a regular lift ticket with current season pass from any other area.

Mark your calendar:

  • Can-U-Ski Food and Coat Drive, Dec. 1 (Bring 24 cans of food or two winter coats and get a free lift ticket for that day).
  • Ski and Ride with Santa, Dec. 25.
  • Military Appreciation Days, Jan. 23 – 24; Law Enforcement Appreciation Days, Feb. 6-7; Fire and Rescue Appreciation Days, Feb. 20 – 21.

Sapphire Valley Ski Area
At a glance: 8 acres of skiable terrain with two trails (one beginner, one intermediate). Peak elevation: 3,780 feet. Vertical drop: 200 feet.

Longest run: 1,600 feet. There’s a quad lift for the main run.

New this year: The Frozen Falls Tube Park, a 500-foot run with a 60-foot vertical drop, is newly rebuilt with multiple personal lanes and a more efficient carpet lift.

Mark your calendar:

  • Great Sapphire Outhouse Races, Feb. 15.

Sugar Mountain Resort
Sugar Mountain
At a glance: 115 acres of skiable area with 20 slopes and trails (seven beginner, nine intermediate, three advanced, one freestyle terrain area). Peak elevation: 5,300 feet. Vertical drop: 1,200 feet.

Longest run: 1.5 miles. Lifts include four doubles and one triple. Sugar Mountain also offers a 700-foot, multilane tube run; ice skating; guided snowshoe tour; and public racing program.

New this year: Newly replaced snowmaking pipes on the Big Red slope and added hydrants to cover the Big Red slope quicker. Sugar Mountain Resort is in the process of cutting a new slope that will be ready for the 2014 – 15 season.

Mark your calendar:

  • SugarFest 2013, with Olympic Figure Skating Silver Medalist Paul Wylie and friends, Olympic Alpine Skiing Gold Medalist, Diann Roffe Dec. 13 – 15.
  • Santa at Sugar, on the slopes Dec. 14 – 24.

Wolf Ridge Ski Resort
Mars Hill
At a glance: 72 acres of skiable terrain with 22 slopes and trails (11 beginner, eight intermediate, three advanced) and a terrain park. Peak elevation: 4,700 feet. Vertical drop: 700 feet.

Longest run: 3,700 feet. Lifts include two quads, two doubles and a magic carpet. There’s also a tube run just outside the resort.

More Winter Play

Hawksnest Snow Tubing and Zipline Course
Seven Devils
Hawksnest Resort is a family-friendly winter area that’s home to the largest snow tubing park on the East Coast as well as the longest zip line tour in the nation. The tubing park is comprised of four areas and more than 20 lighted lanes ranging from 400 to 1,000 feet in length. The zip line course features 20 cables covering over four miles and is open year-round.

Jonas Ridge Snow Tubing Park
Jonas Ridge
Take your tube to the top of the hill and hold on for an exhilarating ride down one of the six lanes. After tubing, warm up inside by the fireplace or watch from an observation deck. The park also offers night tubing.

Moonshine Mountain Snow Tubing Park
Moonshine Mountain features 500 feet of fun and allows trains of up to eight people.

Scaly Mountain Outdoor Center
Scaly Mountain
Scaly Mountain offers year-round tubing with snow in the winter and artificial turf in the summer. The resort offers a separate slope for young tubers and also has a skating rink.

Beech Mountain Sledding Hill
Beech Mountain
The town of Beech Mountain maintains a free sledding hill for children 12 and younger (parents can ride with smaller children), next to Town Hall. A combination of natural and man-made snow keeps the conditions right. Plastic sleds are required.

Malia Kline

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