North Carolina Mountains Outdoors

Winter Activities
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Skier on Sugar Mountain
A sweet run on Sugar Mountain


North Carolina's High Country is known as the "Ski Capital of the South." While that may not impress people who've linked turns at, say, Tahoe or Jackson Hole, the local alpine action is a great way to enjoy the scenic beauty of the southern Appalachians in winter. Choose from six ski resorts and two dedicated snow-tubing parks in the Mountains region.

At 5,506 feet above sea level, Ski Beech ( at Beech Mountain is hailed as eastern North America's highest-elevation ski resort. Enjoy an 830-foot vertical drop, 15 slopes, and 10 lifts, as well as ice skating and tubing.

Sugar Mountain Resort ( offers the most vertical for your High Country ski dollar (1,200 feet), and the mountain's longest run stretches a good 1.5 miles. Sugar offers eight lifts and 20 slopes and trails spread over 115 skiable acres. In summer months, mountain bikers can ride the chairlift to the top for twenty miles of double- and single-track.

The 4,000-foot-plus elevation of Appalachian Ski Mountain (, the High Country's oldest ski area, makes for frequent snow, and all of the resorts have the ability to give Old Man Winter a helping hand: Expect to ski from mid-November through March with the aid of snowmaking. Appalachian's French-Swiss Ski College will help transform newbies into skiers in no time.

Warm up with a free visit to the Appalachian Heritage Museum in the nearby town of Blowing Rock. Built in 1903 for Appalachian State University's founding fathers, this was the first house in the county to have electricity and running water. The museum's vintage décor lets visitors see how mountain families lived in the early 1900s.

Snow Tubing

North Carolina's Mountains region includes two family-oriented, tubing-only parks, which add roller coaster thrills to the childhood joy of sledding. At Scaly Mountain Area (, parents can take a break inside the day lodge and still keep an eye on their kids. Hawksnest Snowtubing Park ( boasts the longest tubing run in the South.

Published: 3 May 2002 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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