Blog Seasonal Sports The Best Snow Skiing and Snow Boarding in the Southwest corner of The Blue Ridge Mountains

The Best Snow Skiing and Snow Boarding in the Southwest corner of The Blue Ridge Mountains

Updated: 01/20/2023 • Bernie Gilchrist

Seasonal Sports

I have always loved the snow and particularly, snow skiing all my life! One of my favorite photos is of me snow skiing in Steamboat, CO where I was captured upside-down, in a totally inverted position! Even today, it is hanging my wall to always remind of that day. There’s just something about flying down a mountainside wide open in the middle of winter. I love the fresh air and the spectacular views it offers. In fact, this is one of the primary reasons I moved to Western North Carolina. Granted, we don’t have the same type of conditions and lengths of slopes like out west, but if you like snow skiing or snowboarding like me, then you’ll make the best of what’s in your own backyard. Snow skiing in WNC is full of fun and adventure and I can be skiing at Cataloochee in less than an hour from my home. There’s several skiing resorts close to Asheville and my hometown of Sylva, NC offering day and night skiing with challenging runs that even the experts will enjoy. Here’s a few Skiing Resorts and attractions you should check out when visiting the southern tip of Western North Carolina.

Ski the Cat

Just outside of Waynesville, NC above Maggie Valley is Cataloochee Ranch, a mile high mountain resort founded in 1933 and borders the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Opening for snow skiing in 1961, it is North Carolina’s oldest ski resort. Cataloochee Ski Area has 18 ski slopes and trails for all levels of skiers. The top elevation is 5,400 feet above sea level yielding a vertical drop of 740 feet. Cataloochee boost of having some of the world’s best snow making machinery in the industry.

For the more advance snow skier and snow boarder they have the Cat Cage a smart designed terrain park to challenge anyone who is seeking adventure above and beyond. The Cat Cage features a 10-foot Double Bar Flat, 20 foot Flat Down Rail, 15 foot Straight Round Rail, 8-foot Jam Box and a Propane Tank.

They have a ski lodge and restaurant for warming up and fueling up. You can rent skis and they offer lessons for beginners and children at the Kidz Ski and Ride Center. Make sure to check out their season passes for savings. You can also ski at night. I recommend checking their Snow Report before traveling there.

Check out their webcams for live feed:

They are located at 1080 Ski Lodge Road, Maggie Valley, NC 28751 or call for more info at 828.926.0285 or Toll Free at 1.800.768.0285 or

In addition to snow skiing and boarding Cataloochee Ski Area offers you Snow Tubing at Tube World! Tube World in Maggie Valley is a fun treat for those who want play in the snow, but at a different pace so to speak. They have created special groomed slopes designed specifically for inner tubes. Now this is fun for the whole family! Tube World is located in Maggie Valley and not at the resort. To purchase tickets or learn more go to: 

Ride the Wolf

Just 30 minutes north of Asheville is Ski Wolf Ridge. This national treasure has been a family friendly resort since 1968 and features 15 slopes for everyone from beginner to expert with a vertical drop of 700 feet. They also have night skiing and snow tubing for the kids. Explore the Wolf’s Trail map

If you’re new to snow skiing or snowboarding, then consider taking lessons at the Wolf. They have a team of dedicated instructors ready to help you conquer the mountain no matter what your level of experience may be.

The Wolf Ridge’s Snow Sports School offers private and public lessons. If you need to rent skis, boards, bibs, helmets, or a locker, they have it all awaiting your arrival.

And if you get cold or hunger playing on the snow, they have a wonderful old rustic Ski Lodge with 3 fireplaces to warm you up and a cafeteria that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you happened to have forgotten something like gloves, goggles or face mask no worries, visit the Lodge’s Gift Shop and maybe take-home a souvenir as well.

In addition, The Wolf has some great deals on Session Passes and Group Rates where if you order before the season begins you can save
hundreds of dollars. They make booking online fast and easy! Again, I
recommend checking the Snow Report before booking online and traveling.

The Wolf is located at 578 Valley View Circle, Mars Hill, NC 28754 or call 828.689.4111

The Sapphire Valley Ski Area & Frozen Falls Tube Park

If you’re looking for smaller slopes to have fun on and a place the little ones will enjoy without all the crowds, then explore the slopes at The Sapphire Valley Ski Area Jackson County’s own just off Hwy 64 in Sapphire, NC. Here at 3,400 feet, you can enjoy a 1,600-foot run with a vertical drop of 200 feet while your little ones enjoy snow tubing over at the Frozen Falls Tube Park. The Tube Park is perfect for those who don’t want to ski or board. It has a 300-foot run with a 60-foot vertical drop-just enough speed to make you want to go over and over again.

At the bottom of the slopes is a Fire Pit and Park located right next to the Wild & Scenic Horsepasture River where you can warm up between runs. And, when you get hungry meet up with the family at the Slopeside Tavern. The tavern has a delectable menu serving salads, burgers, flatbreads, brats, wraps and a full bar showcasing local craft brews.

If you forgot something, no worries, they have hats, caps, warmers, gloves, and goggles at the community center. If you’re new to snow skiing or snowboarding in the Blue Ridge Mountains take advantage of the Sapphire Valley Resort’s Ski & Snowboard Lessons. To inquire about lift tickets and group rates go here: 

Don’t miss this year’s 16th annual Great Sapphire Outhouse Race on Saturday, February 18th, 2023. What is an Outhouse Race you ask? Well, I am glad you asked, teams of 3 create old timey Outhouses on skies. They make them out of wood, plastic or cardboard and race them downhill for prizes and accolades. To find out more on the races go here:   

Oh yea, before traveling to Sapphire Valley make sure to first check the conditions and if they’re open by visiting their Facebook Page: 

Ski Sapphire Valley is located at:
127 Sapphire Valley Rd, Sapphire, NC 28774
Phone: 828.743.7663

Snow Tubing and Ice-Skating at Highlands Outpost

Ride the Magic Carpet lift to the top! The folks over at Scaly Mountain, NC have created a world-class snow tubing course for all ages. To keep the tubing lanes in good condition, Highlands Outpost blows snow when the conditions are right, or whenever Mother Nature doesn’t show up, to ensure there is enough snow to have a great time. You can check them out with their Live Webcam anytime of the day. Children love tubing and can do it all day long! So, I suggest bringing drinks, boxed lunches, and snacks for this adventure.

You can also Ice Skate outside at Highland Park and take advantage of the clean pure mountain air. The outdoor ice-skating rink is large enough to enjoy without being crowded and Ice Skate Rentals are included in the ticket price. They do, however, suggest purchasing your ticket after you arrive. The conditions must be just right before the rink will open. They also offer a combo ticket which includes 2-hours of snow tubing and 1 hour of Ice Staking.

Highlands Outpost is located at:
7420 Dillard Road, Scaly Mountain, NC 28755
Phone: 828.526.3737 or 

I do hope this inspires everyone to grab your coat and get outside to play this winter! Western North Carolina is a true Winter Wonderland awaiting your discovery, and remember, the best time to ski or board these old mountains is from late December to Mid-March. I’ll see you on the slopes!

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