It’s All Downhill: Easy Ways to Enjoy Winter Sports in Asheville
Family-Friendly skiing and tubing convenient to downtown
Asheville might not be the first place you think of when planning your ski vacation, but the Western North Carolina mountain town happens to cozy up to the highest peaks in the eastern United States. Whether you’re a beginning snowboarder or the next Sierra Quitquit, there’s plenty of downhill action to be had just minutes from the city.
Think the DuPont Forest waterfalls are gorgeous in the summer? Wait ‘til you see them in the winter. Get your blood flowing and adrenaline pumping with these Asheville area winter sports.
Slope Against Slope
Just 35 miles west of Asheville, Cataloochee Ski Area has 18 slopes and trails, five lifts and over 4,000 sets of snowsports equipment to get you geared up for your day on the mountain. The HEAD Kids Adventure Center is a great place for kids ages 4-12 to learn and hone their skills. Just down the hill in Maggie Valley, the resort’s Tube World offers 12 lanes of tubing fun plus a Wee Bowl Snowplay Area for the little ones. Cataloochee has increased its snowmaking capacity to the top of the mountain. Let it snow!
Best Bet: The Slide in 5 package includes 5 days of lift tickets, lessons and rentals, and at the end of the program, you receive a free set of Elan skis, all for $299.
Wolf Ridge Ski Resort has something for all skill and thrill levels with 15 ski runs, four ski lifts, and an inviting base lodge where you can warm up by one of three fireplaces between runs. Wolf has added 100 new parking spaces near the Lower Lodge and a special area just for beginner lessons with its own magic carpet lift. For a fun family activity, check out the Wolf Ridge Tube Run just a few miles down the road.
Best Bets: 2 For Tuesdays (two lift tickets for the price of one), and Women’s Wednesdays (half-price lift tickets for the ladies).
You might expect the weather outside to be frightful during the holidays in a mountain town, but Asheville has its share of mild winter weather. On those days where you can stay warm with a brisk pace and a cozy fleece, check out this list of winter hikes. There’s something to be said about the natural beauty of bare branches and frozen waterfalls, not to mention you’re likely to have the trails all to yourself. And hey, with enough snow, any of these hikes could become a snowshoeing adventure!
This may sound like the stuff of Mountain Dew commercials and Patagonia catalogs, but no experience is necessary to tackle single pitch ice routes led by the crew from Fox Mountain Guides. No equipment is needed either -- just bring your sense of adventure and keep your fingers crossed for ideal ice conditions, which are most likely late November through February.
Header image courtesy of Cataloochee Ski Area; tubing image courtesy of Wolf Ridge Ski Resort; ice climbing image by Maggie Smith.