5 Best Ski Resorts in the Tennessee Area

When you think of the southeastern US, skiing might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But Tennesse and the surrounding area have some ski resorts that offer locals and visitors the opportunity to get on the slopes during the winter months. 

I’ve been skiing for decades and have traveled all over North America searching for snow. I know what to look for in the best resorts and have researched all of the top spots for skiing in and around Tennessee. 

This post will highlight the best ski resorts in Tennesse. I’ll point out some important information on each location, like what the destination is best known for and the type of skiing you are likely to find there. 

Let’s get after it. 

1. Ober Gatlinburg

  • Resort Website
  • Opening Day: December 10 (Average)
  • Closing Day: March 15 (Average)
  • Best Known For: Family-friendly, lots of amenities, easy access, the only resort in Tennessee

Ober Gatlinburg is the most well-known resort in Tennessee because it’s actually the only one in the state. This is a very family-friendly resort that people flock to from all over the region during the winter months. It’s not a huge resort, but it’s a lot of fun. 

The resort does a great job of keeping snow on the ground all season long, and extensive snow-making supplements things when fresh flakes don’t fall from the sky (which can happen in TN). 

There aren’t hotels or lodges right at the resort, but in the nearby towns of Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, you’ll have a nearly endless amount of accommodations. These are both big tourist locations all year round, so they have lots of food. 

Ober Gatlinburg also offers equipment rentals and ski lessons right at the mountain. You can show up for your ski day and get everything you need to get on the snow or learn how to improve your skills. 

Fresh powder is rare in Tennesse, so you’ll most likely be skiing groomed artificial snow here or any other resort in the area. Still, if there is snow on the ground you can ski, and that’s always a good day in the winter.  

2. Cataloochee, North Carolina

  • Resort Website
  • Opening Day: November 15 (Average)
  • Closing Day: March 21
  • Best Known For: Decent snowmaking, beginner-friendly, group discounts

Cataloochee isn’t technically in Tennessee, but it’s just one state over in North Carolina and offers some solid skiing opportunities for anyone who visits. It’s not a very big resort, but you can take advantage of the slopes if you want to get on the snow. 

The ski area does a good job of keeping the snowmaking machines running all season long to keep decent conditions even if there isn’t a lot of fresh snow. They also groom many runs, which keeps them in good shape. 

Cataloochee is a beginner-friendly mountain with a lot of green runs that are easy to navigate. This also makes it a family-friendly place where everyone from little kids to grandma and grandpa can get out on the slopes and enjoy themselves. 

If you want to visit here with friends or family, the resort offers group discounts that can help you save some money if you book your trip ahead of time. They also have several lodging partners in the nearby Maggie Valley area. 

Rentals and lessons are available right at the ski area, but since it’s so small, you might want to consider renting equipment in a nearby town if you are particular about the skis you want or need. All of the ski instructors are known for being very friendly.

There aren’t all that many dining options at Cataloochee, so you might want to pack a lunch or fill the cooler and leave it in your car. There are some options in the lodge, but you won’t have luxury dining opportunities here.  

3. Wolf Ridge, North Carolina

  • Resort Website
  • Opening Day: December 15 (Average)
  • Closing Day: March (Average)
  • Best Known For: Family-friendly, year-round activities, decent vertical drop

Wolf Ridge is another ski resort in the Tennessee area that sits in the nearby mountains of North Carolina. This location is well-known for its family-friendly atmosphere and year-round activities that make it a great destination whenever you want to come. 

Skiers in the area will enjoy a decent vertical drop of over 700 feet. This gives you plenty of room to zip down the runs and have fun. There is a bit of terrain for everyone, from beginners to advanced here. 

Wolf Ridge is also pretty easy to access, which is another reason it is so popular. It is only five miles from the nearest interstate, so a quick drive from several of the larger population centers in the region. 

The resort has 72 acres of skiable terrain and 65 runs. That gives you plenty of room to get out and explore, although it’s definitely not as large as most of the resorts in the western US. Wolf Ridge also does snowmaking to provide decent conditions all season long. 

If you want to stay for a few days, the lodging accommodations are pretty excellent. The main lodge was recently remodeled and offers comfortable amenities that are easy to get used to. There is also a good ski school for lessons, and rentals are easily available.    

4. Sugar Mountain

  • Resort Website
  • Opening Day: November 15 (Average)
  • Closing Day: March 22 (Average)
  • Best Known For: Affordable, near Tennesse border

Sugar Mountain ski resort is also in North Carolina, but it sits just past the Tennesse border, so it is popular with skiers in both states. It’s a fun and affordable skiing destination that offers decent snow and an inviting atmosphere. 

This resort averages nearly 50 inches of snow a year, which doesn’t sound like much but is actually pretty respectable for the region. You can also expect near daily snow-making to supplement what falls naturally from the sky. 

Sugar Mountain has five chairlifts and 18 different runs to give skiers and snowboarders room to spread out and enjoy the snow. The runs vary in difficulty but accommodate all skier ability levels to provide a little something for everyone. 

The resort offers equipment and clothing rentals, so you can get just about everything you need to go skiing, even if you don’t own any of your own gear. The ski school is also excellent, so you can take a lesson to improve your on-snow skills. 

There are plenty of nearby lodging opportunities to make your ski trip here as comfortable and cozy as possible. Whether you want to stay close to the resort or in a nearby town with more shopping and dining, you can easily find it.   

5. Beech Mountain, North Carolina

  • Resort Website
  • Opening Day: November 25 (Average)
  • Closing Day: March 21 (Average)
  • Best Known For: Many winter activities, excellent ski school, family-friendly

If you are looking for more winter activities than just skiing in the Tennessee area, Beech Mountain is a recommended destination. This North Carolina Ski resort provides fun in the snow for the entire family with everything from skiing to snowshoeing to tubing. 

The mountain has eight total lifts that give you access to 17 trails. There is a mix of terrain, including greens, blues, blacks, and two terrain parks. That provides enough variety to keep even seasoned skiers satisfied. 

Beech Mountain also does a good job of snowmaking, with artificial snow capabilities on the entire mountain for reliable conditions all season long. There is a vertical drop of over 800 feet to allow you to reach top speeds. 

There are four restaurants at the resort so you can catch a bite to eat. And ski lessons and rentals are also available. There isn’t that much lodging available, so this is a better day trip destination. 

Additional Tips for Skiing in the Tennessee Area

You won’t always have fresh snow when skiing in the Tennesee area, so be prepared for icy and packed conditions. It’s a good idea to have your skis properly tuned up with sharp edges to make sure you stay in control when the snow is less than ideal. 

Check out the video below for some DIY ski tuning tips. 

Final Words

Even though there is only one ski resort in Tennessee, there are plenty of skiing opportunities just across the border in North Carolina. All of the resorts on this list are worth a visit and will give you access to good skiing all winter long. 

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