North Carolina’s Ski and Snow Season Kicks Off With New Winter Zip Line, Anniversary Festivities and a Return to Oz

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High Country Resorts Are Accessible Through Several Routes Despite U.S. 321 Detour

North Carolina features the highest ski areas and the largest snow tubing resort in the eastern U.S.

North Carolina’s ski season hits full steam this weekend as all the state’s ski and tubing attractions are open. The resorts feature several new activities and special deals. Visitors traveling to North Carolina’s High Country resorts near Boone are reminded that these areas are easily accessible through a variety of routes despite the detour on U.S. 321 between Lenoir and Blowing Rock. For more information on skiing in North Carolina, go to

This weekend, Sugar Mountain celebrates SugarFest to kick off its 40th anniversary as one of North Carolina’s premier ski resorts. Hawksnest Snow Tubing has all four parks open for snow tubing and now offers one of the only winter zip lines in the nation. This weekend only, Appalachian Ski Mountain has a “Ski and Tree” package offering a discount on a ‘choose and cut’ Christmas tree with purchase of a lift ticket. Ski Beech opens its Upper Shawneehaw run and high-speed quad lift this weekend. And the free kid’s sledding hill is open in the Town of Beech Mountain.

U.S. 321 in Caldwell County near Lenoir between Kirby Mountain Road and Waterfalls Road is expected to be closed through the weekend as construction crews remove boulders loosened during road construction. Blasting has been taking place weekly on the U.S. 321 widening project from Blowing Rock to Lenoir. Alternatives to U.S. 321 include Interstate 77 North, U.S. 421, U.S. 221 and N.C. 18 to N.C. 181 from Interstate 40. For information on current road conditions, visitors should check the North Carolina Department of Transportation Traveler Information Management System website at or call 511, the state’s free travel information line.

North Carolina features the highest ski areas and the largest snow tubing resort in the eastern U.S. Visitors to Western North Carolina can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and a winter zip line or just sitting in a warm cozy lodge drinking hot cocoa. Here is an overview of North Carolina’s facilities open for the weekend.

Appalachian Ski Mountain
Appalachian Ski Mountain is now the home for Burton Snowboards’ first Progression Park in North Carolina. With the completion of a multitude of ski area improvement projects, Appalachian Ski Mountain has now invested $3 million in snowmaking and other improvements in the last three years. More snow blowing fan guns were installed this summer; Appalachian Ski Mountain now has the greatest snowmaking capacity per acre in the Southeast. 828-295-7828;

Cataloochee Ski Area
Cataloochee Ski Area, located in the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina is traditionally the first ski resort in the Mid-Atlantic region to make snow and open for the season. The oldest winter area in North Carolina, Cataloochee continues to make significant improvements to its snowmaking capabilities, allowing the resort’s operational staff to be aggressive in helping skiers and snowboarders with their first tracks of the season. 828-926-0285;

Hawksnest Snow Tubing and Zip line Course
A new addition this year is the country’s longest zip line course. The Hawksnest zip line course is 1.5 miles long and is open all year. In addition to the longest zip line course, Hawksnest has taken snow tubing to new levels of fun. Hawksnest’s expanded snow tubing operation makes it the biggest on the East Coast. Hawksnest Snow Tubing has four different areas to snow tube with more than 20 lanes of fun. Lanes are 400 – 1000 feet long with two moving carpet lifts to take guests back to the top. Hawksnest has 100 percent snowmaking and lighting on all lanes to provide the best possible conditions and fun for the whole family. 828-963-6561 or 800-822-4295;

Sapphire Ski Valley Resort and Frozen Falls Tube Park
Sapphire Ski Resort is a four-season resort located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sapphire prides itself on being a learning and group-friendly facility. Sapphire is also a family friendly resort for those who are looking to spend quality time with their loved ones. Sapphire Ski Resort features skiing, snowboarding and a tube park. 828-743-7663;

Ski Beech at Beech Mountain
At Ski Beech the popular Oz run returns this winter with new padded quad chairs and newly installed airless electrical snowmaking hookups along the run so the slope can be blown in within 24 hours. Also this winter a second terrain park will be unveiled with a fully functional lift that will access a multi-featured park with rails, boxes and jumps for intermediate to advanced freestyle riders. The resort also features a tubing park. Additionally, all reservoir lakes have been dredged to push the mountain’s water capacity to eight-million gallons. 828-387-2011 or 1-800-438-2093;

Sugar Mountain Resort
Sugar Mountain Resort is even sweeter this year with special programs and deals throughout the season to honor its 40th anniversary. The Resort opened in 1969 with four lifts and 11 slopes for skiing. Since then Sugar has grown to include seven lifts and 20 slopes for skiers and snowboarders. Winter activity offerings have expanded over the years to include snowshoeing, tubing and ice skating. 828-898-4521 or 1-800-SUGARMT;

Wolf Ridge Ski Resort
Formerly Wolf Laurel Slopes, Wolf Ridge Ski Resort offers 15 acres of additional ski slopes, a new quad lift, a new terrain park and much more. There is something for everyone from beginner to expert at this family-oriented resort now with an expanded 82 acres of ski terrain. 828-689-4111;

North Carolina also has a number of other snow related activities. Snow tubing and sledding, though not as big as skiing, is a fun family friendly activity that everyone can enjoy. Here are more of North Carolina’s facilities.

Beech Mountain Sledding Park
The Town of Beech Mountain once again offers children a winter full of fun with its free youth sledding hill, one of the highest sledding hills in the eastern United States. The hill is adjacent to Town Hall and provides good sledding conditions with a combination of man-made and natural snow. Beech Mountain, at an elevation of 5,506 feet, is the highest town in Eastern America with an average annual snowfall of more than 80 inches. The Beech Mountain sledding hill is for kids age 12 and under, although parents may ride with smaller children. Plastic sleds are required. 828-387-9283;

Scaly Mountain Outdoor Center
Scaly Mountain offers year-round tubing with snow in the winter and artificial turf in the summer. The resort even offers a kiddie slope for young tubers and plans to open a skating rink in 2009. Opening for the season on Saturday. 828-526-3737;

Jonas Ridge Snow Tubing
Located six miles south of Linville, Jonas Ridge features three tubing runs. They also offer night tubing. Will open for the season on Sunday - will maybe open on Saturday if conditions allow. Call to confirm opening and hours. 828-733-4155


Susan Dosier
(704) 953-9408

Wit Tuttell
(919) 733-7420


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