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; only a limited number are sold) 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 1,500-square-foot Welcome Center near the Blue Ridge Parkway on Highway 321 and Edmisten Road between Blowing Rock and Boone. The facility features live-streaming web cams of the slopes. Tickets are not sold at the Welcome Center.Longest run: 2,640 feet. Lifts include a double and two quads. Resort also features a Zamboni-maintained ice rink.Mark your calendar:55th Anniversary Weekend, Dec. 3 - 4, 2016Christmas Day Skiing (open on Christmas for the first time ever), Dec. 25, 2016New Year’s Eve Extravaganza, Dec. 31, 2016President’s Day Family Weekend, Feb. 17 - 20, 2017Meltdown Games, March 25 - 26, 2017Beech Mountain ResortBeech MountainAt a glance: 95 acres of skiable terrain with 17 slopes and trails (four beginner, eight intermediate, four advanced, one freestyle terrain area) and a 700-foot long tubing park. Peak elevation: 5,506 feet – higher than any slope in the East. Vertical drop: 830 feet.New this season: New terrain park, called "The Park," is the largest in resort history. It features a dedicated snowmaking system, new light towers, more than 50 features including more elaborate jumps, and is relocated away from the Powder Slope bowl, which is now an additional intermediate slope.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:New Year's Eve Celebration, Dec. 31, 2016So-Gnar Snowboard Camp, Jan. 21 – 22, 2017Totally ’80s Retro Ski Weekend, Feb. 23 – 26, 2017RECESS wRECklESS Rail Jam, March 4, 2017Cataloochee 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:Fourth Annual Cataloochee Ski and Snowboard Swap Shop, Dec. 3 – 4, 2016Can-U-Ski Food and Coat Drive, Dec. 4, 2016 (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, 2016Military Appreciation Days, Jan. 26 – 27, 2017Law Enforcement Appreciation Days, Feb. 2 – 3, 2017President’s Day Holiday Weekend, Feb. 17 – 20, 2017Fire and Rescue Appreciation Days, March 2 – 3, 2017Sapphire Valley Ski AreaSapphireAt a glance: 8 acres of skiable terrain with two trails (one beginner, one intermediate) and a 500-foot tube park. Peak elevation: 3,780 feet. Vertical drop: 200 feet.New this season: New snowmaking towers will maximize weather conditions for making snow.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), a tubing park and ice skating rink. Peak elevation: 5,300 feet. Vertical drop: 1,200 feet.New this season: New groomer added for increased safety and to maximize grooming production, especially on signature slopes like Whoopdedoo, Gunther’s Way, Tom Terrific and Boulder Dash.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 2016, Dec. 10 – 11, 2016Santa at Sugar, Dec. 10 – 24, 2016New Year’s Celebration, Dec. 31, 2016National Winter Trails Day, Jan. 8, 2017Sugar Bear’s Birthday Celebration, March 5, 2017Wolf Ridge Ski ResortMars HillAt a glance: 72 acres of skiable terrain with 15 slopes and trails (four beginner, nine intermediate, two advanced), a terrain park and a tube run. Peak elevation: 4,700 feet. Vertical drop: 700 feet.Longest run: 3,700 feet. Lifts include one quad, one double and two surface lifts.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.More FROM VISITNC.COMThere’s much to see and do in North Carolina, so read on.Climb the Ice of North Carolina’s MountainsIf you’re the adventurous type, but ice climbing isn’t on your radar, it should be. And expert climbers are ready to guide you.Waterfalls Are a Must-See in Winter TooIf you’ve only seen our waterfalls in warm weather, visit again on a chilly winter day and experience a real-life “winter wonderland.”Winter Fun at North Carolina's Coastal State ParksThe cooler months are a great time to visit coastal state parks for sandboarding, bird watching, fishing, Civil War reenactments and aquariums.Warm Up Your Winter with a Soothing Day at the SpaIf you want to offset the shorter days and chilly temperatures of winter, treat yourself to a warm day at the spa.