Hit the Slopes at Winter Sports ResortsBeech Mountain Resort's peak elevation is higher than any slope in the EastAs you get into a winter state of mind, you'll be happy to discover – or be reminded – that North Carolina is a great destination for fun and adventures on the snow. Our state is home to six full-service ski areas with 90 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 opens around 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, a season pass ($850) to 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 winter sports resorts.Appalachian Ski MountainBlowing RockAt 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.New this season: New and upgraded snowmaking on Orchard Run, Big Appal and Appaljack slopes to provide faster coverage and more base depth, consistency and quality snow conditions.Longest run: 2,640 feet. Lifts include a double and two quads. Resort also features a Zamboni-maintained ice rink.Mark your calendar:Midnight Blast, Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 20, 2015 - March 19, 2016; plus Dec. 26 - Jan. 2, Jan. 17 and Feb. 1454th Anniversary Weekend, Dec. 5 - 6, 2015Skiing with Santa, Dec. 24, 2015Meltdown Games, March 26 - 27, 2016Beech Mountain ResortBeech MountainAt 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.New this season: New tubing park, adjacent to the Alpine Village at the base of the slopes, with chutes up to 700 feet long; lift system upgrades, including an enclosed structure at the top of the quad; improved snowmaking; renovations at Beech Tree Bar & Grill.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.Mark your calendar:WinterFest, Jan. 9 – 11, 2016Burton's Party in Your Park, Jan. 17 – 18, 2016Totally ’80s Retro Ski Weekend, Feb. 18 – 21, 2016Cataloochee Ski AreaMaggie ValleyAt a glance: 50 acres of skiable terrain with 18 slopes and trails (44% beginner, 39% intermediate and 17% advanced to expert) 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.Mark your calendar:Can-U-Ski Food and Coat Drive, Dec. 6, 2015 (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, 2015Military Appreciation Days, Jan. 21 – 22, 2016Law Enforcement Appreciation Days, Feb. 4 – 5, 2016Fire and Rescue Appreciation Days, Feb. 18 – 21, 2016Sapphire Valley Ski AreaSapphireAt a glance: 8 acres of skiable terrain with two trails (one beginner, one intermediate). Peak elevation: 3,780 feet. Vertical drop: 200 feet.New this season: Increased snowmaking ability, new moving lift at the beginner’s hill, additional lanes at the tube park. Also, the resort’s signature Outhouse Race celebrates its 10th anniversary run on Feb. 13.Longest run: 1,600 feet. There’s a quad lift for the main run.Sugar Mountain ResortSugar MountainAt a glance: 125 acres of skiable area with 21 slopes and trails (seven beginner, eleven intermediate, three advanced). Peak elevation: 5,300 feet. Vertical drop: 1,200 feet.New this season: Addition of the Summit Express, a six-seater, high-speed chairlift, and other lift system updates; new automated SMI snow machines and an additional variable speed, fully automated water pump; cafeteria remodeling to allow made-to-order selections and new bottled drink options.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.Mark your calendar:SugarFest 2015, Dec. 12 – 13, 2015Santa at Sugar, Dec. 11 – 24, 2015National Winter Trails Day, Jan. 9, 2016Sugar Bear’s Birthday Celebration, Mar. 6, 2016Wolf Ridge Ski ResortMars HillAt 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.New this season: New dedicated beginner lesson area with its own surface lift to decrease crowding on the main slope; new parking area to allow guests to park closer to the resort’s top lodge.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 PlayHawksnest Snow Tubing and Zipline CourseSeven 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 30 lighted lanes ranging from 400 to 1,000 feet in length. The zip line course features 20 cables covering more than four miles and is open year-round.Jonas Ridge Snow Tubing ParkJonas 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 ParkHendersonville Moonshine Mountain features 500 feet of fun and allows trains of up to eight people, which others forbid.Scaly Mountain Outdoor CenterScaly 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. Sandwiches and snacks are available at Annie’s Café.Beech Mountain Sledding HillBeech 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.