Top 3 Ski Resorts in North Carolina for Beginners

Located within North Carolina are six ski resorts. With some of the best known ski destinations in the region, North Carolina’s resorts offer quite a lot!

But, what if you’ve never skied before? Looking up at the towering mountain before you can be intimidating for sure. Everybody has to start somewhere, though. For this reason, most resorts offer lessons from professional instructors to show you the ropes and teach you safety on the slopes.

So, if you’re new to skiing and wondering which ski destinations are best, look no further. Below is a list of the three best ski resorts in North Carolina for beginners. Before you know it, you’ll be the one newcomers are watching in awe!

Appalachian Ski Mtn.

Image credit: App Ski Mtn. Facebook Page

Appalachian Ski Mtn. is the first ski area to open in Northwestern North Carolina. The ski season at this resort is from late November until late March, giving the optimal time of year to ski.

The resort offers nine runs for newer skiers and the App Terrain Park for those more advanced. The App Terrain Park is geared towards freestyle terrain skiers and snowboarders.

Also offered are rentals of all kinds for casual skiers or those who want to travel light. Skis, boards, boots, helmets, poles, and apparel can all be rented. It should be noted that you will need to bring your own hats, gloves, and goggles if nothing else.

Why Appalachian Ski Mtn. is great for beginners

Appalachian Ski Mtn. prides itself in being a family-friendly resort. As a result, it is the ski destination of choice for beginners and intermediate-level skiers.

Offered at the resort is the French-Swiss Ski College. Here, you will learn from professional instructors before hitting the slopes on your own. In fact, since 1969, over 1,000,000 people have been taught to ski and snowboard at Appalachian Ski Mtn. Instructors never have more than 10 students at a time. However, private lessons are also available.

Once you’re comfortable going on your own, the slopes are beginner-friendly and perfect for those looking for a more effortless experience. In fact, many parents can let their kids go off on their own without worry. All runs are viewable from the resort located at the mountain base.

Places to eat, sleep and explore around Appalachian Ski Mtn.

Blowing Rock is notably the closest and best small town to see while visiting Appalachian Ski Mtn. There is a multitude of hotels, restaurants, and shops to check out while you aren’t on the slopes. There is something for everybody, from the more budget-friendly lodges to swanky resorts and spas. As for restaurants, The Speckled Trout is always a favorite for locals and visitors alike.

Boone is another town nearby if you are looking for somewhere more energetic. Basil’s is a good choice for made-from-scratch and fresh pasta and sandwiches. Booneshine Brewing Company is more casual and offers a tasty selection of handheld foods to enjoy after a day of skiing. After dinner, lay low and pass out at TownePlace Suites or Holiday Inn Express. Your body will thank you!

Cataloochee Ski Area

Cataloochee ski areas
Image credit: Cataloochee Ski Area Facebook Page
Photo Credit: Cataloochee Ski Area Facebook Page

Cataloochee Ski Area is located in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. The resort spans across 50 acres with a total of 18 slopes. Also offered is the Cataloochee Snow School, which consists of an adaptive ski curriculum for all ages. If you prefer snowboarding or tubing, those options are also accessible.

The resort shop sells unique souvenirs to remember your trip in addition to some ski essentials. Available for rent are ski bibs and jackets for a small fee.

One fun thing that is unique to Cataloochee Ski Area is NASTAR. NASTAR is best described as a public racing program that gives leisurely racers the chance to compare themselves with others from around the world. The program is available at 120 resorts for skiers of all ages and abilities.   

Why Cataloochee Ski Area is great for beginners

Cataloochee Ski Area has been noted to be the best beginner ski resort in North Carolina. Of their 18 slopes, eight of them are dedicated to beginner skiers.

The resort has both group and private lessons available to learn the ropes of skiing before you’re let out on your own. Group lessons are an hour and a half. Private lessons are by the hour and can extend up to a 6-hour full-day lesson. With a private lesson comes a customized plan based on ability and ambitions for the day.

A specialized program for kids ages 4-12 introduces young beginners to skiing and snowboarding in small increments. The goal is to get them comfortable while being taught fundamental safety on the slopes. Most importantly, the goal is to have fun without competition.

Places to eat, sleep and explore around Maggie Valley

Maggie Valley is nearby to the gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway. When not skiing, take a short drive to experience the scenic route. Or, take a hike at Great Smokey Mountain National Park (if you’re not too wiped out from skiing, that is.)

When it comes to food in Maggie Valley, Joey’s Pancake House is rated towards the top. Only open from 7 am to 12 pm, this breakfast spot gets rave reviews from its visitors. A fan favorite is the lemon poppyseed pancakes. For lunch and dinner, check out Butts on the Creek BBQ for smoked wings, ribs, and corn on the cob. Don’t forget the house-made peach cobbler for dessert!

After your day of fun, you’ll need somewhere to crash for the night. Maggie Valley Cabin Rentals offer small, private cabins with gorgeous mountain views. Another option is the Best Western Mountainbrook Inn. The hotel pool and complimentary breakfast in the morning are included with your stay.

Sugar Mountain

Sugar Mountain
Image credit: See Sugar Mountain, NC Facebook Page

With 125 acres of area for skiing, Sugar Mountain is the largest of North Carolina’s ski resorts. Along with the 21 slopes are an ice skating rink, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and a tubing park. Weather permitting, the ski season at Sugar Mountain typically runs from November through the end of March.

If you’re trying skiing for the first time or don’t own your own equipment, rentals are available. Rentals include skis, boots, poles, snowboards, helmets, and clothing.

Sugar Mountain also has a courtesy shuttle that runs through the village of Sugar Mountain. A bus schedule is available on their website and does make several stops throughout the town.

Why Sugar Mountain is great for beginners

Sugar Mountain has a trail named Easy Street, which is dedicated to those new to the sport. The gentle trail is perfect for first-time skiers or those not yet comfortable on the bigger slopes. Besides Easy Street, seven other runs are considered easy to intermediate and are marked as green trails.

Sugar Bear Ski School is offered at the resort, teaching kids 5-10 years of age the fundamentals of skiing. Private lessons are also available for ages four and up. Private lessons last one hour and are for all levels and abilities.

Places to eat, sleep and explore around Sugar Mountain

Located in Banner Elk, there are several dining, lodging, and fun options near Sugar Mountain. Of the nearby activities includes High County UTV Tours and Ziplining.

Bella’s is a highly rated Italian Restaurant located near the resort. The pizza is a must-try, as it’s been rated the best in the entire county! Other popular dishes include chicken parmesan, risotto, and stromboli. If you’re looking for slightly more casual eating, the Banner Elk CafĂ© is a great option. Food options include sandwiches, wraps, salads, and pasta.

Bluegreen Vacations Blue Ridge Village is the perfect choice when you’re ready to turn in for the night. The charming resort offers gorgeous scenic views, a mini-golf course, and a pool. Of course, you won’t be far from the slopes, which are only a short five-minute drive away!


There you go! A guide to the best ski resorts in North Carolina for beginners. If you, as a beginner, have tried any of these, be sure to drop a comment with your thoughts!

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