What: Ski North Carolina, Compare High Country Ski Resorts
Where: Appalacian Ski Mtn., Sugar Mtn. and Beech Mtn.
When: November – March
Cost: Ranges for youth and adult Lift Tickets $20 – $68
Recently I was invited by the North Carolina High Country on a press tour of the ski resorts located in the area. Each has its own unique qualities and offer skiers a little something different. All the resorts have invested in large snow guns, so as long as nights are below 32 degrees, they can create a winter wonderland on the slopes. Here’s what you can expect at Appalachian Ski Mountain, Beech Mountain Resort and Sugar Mountain Resort.
Beech Mountain Ski Resort: Beech has the highest elevation of any NC ski resort with 15 trails and 95 skiable acres. It also boasts the only high-speed quad lift to get skiers up the mountain fast. Beech Mountain is the only one of the three resorts to have a shopping area in addition to a pro shop in the lodge. The Alpine Village is located at the base of the slopes. There are several shops and eateries in the village, including: Beech Village Gifts; Beech Tree Bar & Grille; Ski Beech Sports, Roots Ride Ship; Beech Mountain Bakery & Coffee; and Munchies. In the center of the Alpine Village is a 7,000 square foot ice skating rink and a large fire pit. Farther down the mountain at the center of town is the Beech Mountain free sledding hill for kids 12 and under. It sits next to the visitor’s bureau with clean indoor bathrooms.
Appalachian Ski Mtn: This Mountain strikes me as the best place for first timers and those learning. The French Swiss Ski College is one of the best in the state and has taught over a million people how to ski. The mountain itself is very compact. It’s a short walk from the parking lot to the lodge, so it’s not too big a deal if you have to go back to your car (or if you want to bring a picnic). Although all the slopes have high powered snow guns (Beech just added six more SuperPoleCat’s this winter) App Ski Mtn. has the best snow making capabilities of the three resorts. As long as temperatures are low enough, they can blanket the mountain in short order. For beginners, they offer a magic carpet moving sidewalk to take you to the top of the bunny slope, so much easier than the old rope tows they had when I was a kid. The slopes themselves are not as steep as other resorts, so it’s perfect for a beginner to get in a longer run without being intimidated. If you have someone that doesn’t want to ski, they have a nice ice skating rink that is cleaned by a Zamboni next to the lodge. The lodge itself has free wi-fi. Here’s a longer review of Appalachian Ski Mountain.
Sugar Mountain Resort: Sugar Mountain offers 115 skiable acres and 20 trails, the most of the three resorts. It also offers the only double black diamond trail in the state of North Carolina. But don’t think this resort is only for experts. There are trails for every level and several green runs for novice skiers. They also have a magic carpet to take beginners up the bunny slope easily, but watch out for the lift disembarking, it’s a steep slope, much more so than I’ve seen elsewhere. Sugar also offers the most wintertime fun off the slopes. Sugar Mountain has a beautiful ice rink and a tubing hill down from the ski lodge. You pass Sugar on the way up to Beech Mountain.