The Southern United States isn’t known for its large peaks or ski slopes like those of Colorado or California. But it is possible to see snow in the south, no matter what the weather report says. The region has ski resorts, snow tubing, and other winter fun.
Artificial snow is used at many of the resorts but some years, real snow is found in the mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Late December to February are the best times to go if you want to see the real thing.
What to Pack for Winter in the South
If you’re looking to see snow in the South, be sure to pack plenty of layers, including a hat and gloves. Hand warmers are good to have as well. Goggles and sunscreen are other essentials. Winters are relatively mild, but it’s good to be prepared.
Southern Ski Areas and Resorts
Believe it or not, there are actual ski resorts in the South! Because of the age of the mountains, the slopes aren’t too high and are appropriate for beginners and families.
Cloudmont Ski & Golf Resort in Mentone has been open on Lookout Mountain since 1970. The slopes are made with artificial snowmakers and there are areas for beginners and intermediate skiers. Professional instructors are onsite if it’s your first time. Skis, boots, poles, and other equipment are available to rent.
Cloudmont has chalets for rent as well as an adjoining dude ranch. There are also rentals like the treetop cabin and stylish tiny house.
The High Country, North Carolina
If you ask someone where to see snow in the South, they’ll likely mention the North Carolina High Country, where the majority of the region’s ski areas are located.
Appalachian Ski Mountain
Appalachian Ski Mountain in Blowing Rock is a popular ski resort for students at nearby Appalachian State University. It opened in 1968 and has 12 ski runs, including three appropriate for beginners. All slopes are lit for night skiing. They also rent gear and ski attire. Appalachian also has a restaurant.
The resort has its own chalets and an RV resort. The Horton Hotel is a boutique property in downtown Boone. There are also rentals like this three-bedroom home in Blowing Rock.
Beech Mountain is home to Beech Mountain Resort, which opened in 1967 and boasts the highest ski area in the Eastern United States. There are 17 total trails, including freestyle terrain and three easy courses. In addition to skiing, they offer ice skating and snow tubing. The resort also has rentals, a store, four restaurants, and a brewery.
Pinnacle Inn Resort has condo rentals close to Beech Mountain Resort and has an indoor pool and hiking trail to town. Beech Alpen Inn is another option that provides continental breakfast and ski rentals.
Ski Sapphire Valley near Highlands opened in 1964. The main ski hill is 1,600 feet long but there’s also a “bunny slope” for beginners. They also have a tubing park, restaurant, and onsite rentals.
Sapphire Valley Resort offers accommodations with access to the recreation center and discounted lift tickets. They rent their properties through sites like VRBO.
Sugar Mountain Resort near Banner Elk opened in 1969 with 21 slopes ranging from beginner to double black diamond. Some runs also have lights for night skiing. In addition to skiing, the resort offers snowboarding, tubing, ice skating, and snowshoeing.
The majority of accommodations in Sugar Mountain are rental homes and cabins. The Mast Farm Inn is a homey bed and breakfast in Valle Crucis.
Wolf Ridge Ski Resort is located in Mars Hill, a 30-minute drive from Asheville. It opened in 1969 and has 14 trails ranging from beginner to black diamond. In addition to skiing, they offer snowboarding and tubing with lighted slopes.
The cozy lodge also has fireplaces to warm up, a cafeteria, and a rental shop. The Views Townhomes are available to rent year-round near the resort.
The Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee, and North Carolina
The Great Smoky Mountains become magical when snow falls, whether you’re looking to go skiing or not. The national park and surrounds are one of the best places to see snow in the South.
Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley has been a longtime favorite ski area. They have eighteen runs from beginner to expert, including lit slopes for night skiing. The area also has a tubing park.
Maggie Valley Inn & Conference Center is not far from Lake Junaluska and the ski resort. Airbnb has rentals like this log cabin in Maggie Valley.
Located atop the mountains overlooking the town, Ober Gatlinburg is the state’s top ski area, established in 1962. Visitors can ride the aerial tram to the top and enjoy skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and ice skating. There are also multiple restaurants and shops as well as rides and kids’ activities.
Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa has oversized rooms and an indoor water park. Book a Gatlinburg cabin like this A-frame cabin near the ski area.
Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia
The mountains of Virginia actually get snow most years, so it’s a safe bet for people visiting the area to ski. There are a handful of resorts that appeal to beginners and pros.
Bryce Resort is only two hours from Washington DC, making it a popular getaway. The mountains in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains have eight runs from beginner to black diamond, including night skiing.
Bryce offers skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and equipment rentals. They have a restaurant onsite. The resort is reserved for members and their guests. Quality Inn Shenandoah Valley is a short drive away, offering free breakfast and affordable rates.
Homestead Ski Area
Located near Harrisonburg, the Homestead Ski Area is located near the iconic Omni Homestead Resort, which dates back to the 1800s. The ski area has nine downhill ski runs including beginner, intermediate, and double black diamond, and an Olympic-size ice rink.
Located on the campus of Liberty University near Lynchburg, the public ski area is open year-round for different experiences. There is beginner to advance slopes, snowboarding, and tubing.
Visitors can stay nearby at The Virginian Lynchburg, Curio Collection By Hilton or Craddock Terry Hotel, two historic boutique hotels in the area.
Massanutten was founded in the 1800s as a retreat for those wishing to soak in the healing springs, but a ski resort opened in the 1970s. The 6,000-acre resort has thirteen slopes for all experience levels as well as two terrain parks and snow tubing.
Look for vacation rentals and timeshares near Massanutten like this cozy cottage outside of the ski resort with a kitchen and porch.
Set on 11,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Wintergreen Resort is less than two hours from Richmond and three from Washington DC.
It opened in 1969 and has 24 slopes and trails, including 14 lit for night skiing. The resort also has two terrain parks, a snow tubing hill, and ice skating as well as multiple restaurants.
The resort has over 200 condominiums and rental homes ranging from studios to seven-bedroom homes. All have full kitchens and some offer fireplaces and balconies.
In addition to the ski areas that also offer snow tubing, there are many other places that have artificial snow tubing hills and courses. It’s beginner-friendly, especially for kids.
License to Chill Snow Island is located at Margaritaville Lake Lanier Islands, a resort outside of Atlanta. The tropical vibes take on a festive spin with an 8 story snow slide, an ice rink, and artificial snow to play in. There are also Santa photo ops and holiday lights, along with a restaurant, ice cream shop, and hot chocolate.
Snow Mountain at Stone Mountain in Georgia is one of the best places to play in the snow near Atlanta. In addition to the regular lineup of activities inside the park, visitors can enjoy a 400-foot tubing hill and night tubing. There’s also an area to make snowmen and play in the artificial snow. Get a voucher for a discounted visit. Snow Mountain is currently canceled due to the pandemic.
Black Bear Snow Tubing in Hendersonville has 500 feet of tubing on real snow. The heated lodge has food and drink for spectators, along with a playground, open starting December 18. Tickets are $35 each for 2 hours of tubing, which includes tube rental and lift fee.
Crowders Camps at Crowders Ridge in Gastonia has a seasonal snow tubing chute. The four lanes open for those five and older in late November and it operates as a fundraiser. The facility also has a restaurant.
Hawksnest Tubing is the largest snow tubing park in the state, located near Seven Devils, a community not far from Sugar Mountain. There are four different snow tubing areas with 30 lanes, including some up to 1,000 feet long. It’s available for ages three and older.
Jonas Ridge Snow Tubing is in Newland, a town in the High Country. It has five lanes for snow tubing that are appropriate for younger visitors as well as lights for night tubing. The lodge is currently closed and masks are recommended.
Moonshine Mountain in Hendersonville is a popular snow tubing park for all ages. They offer tube rentals and an onsite barbecue restaurant. The season starts on December 17 and tubing costs $35 for 2 hours.
Scaly Mountain Outdoor Center (now known as Highlands Outpost) in Flats offers year-round tubing, including snow tubing. It’s a short drive from the border with Georgia and is a fun option for younger visitors. They also have ice skating and an Alpine coaster, open from late October to March with real and artificial snow. There’s an onsite restaurant as well.
Zip n Slip Snow Tubing in Mars Hill, a town north of Asheville, has three snow tubing lanes. They offer night tubing and snacks like hot chocolate.
Pigeon Forge Snow is an indoor snow park in the heart of Pigeon Forge. They create real snow for their slides and have a snow play area. It also remains around 60 degrees so jackets aren’t necessary. Get your admission before you go.
Rowdy Bear Mountain Adventure Park, also in Pigeon Forge, is open year-round but winter is the best time for snow tubing. Get a discount on the price of tubing.
Faux Snow Experiences
Who says you have to see only real snow? A number of destinations in the region have winter experiences in any temperature.
ICE! featuring A Christmas Story at Gaylord Opryland in Nashville runs from November 8 to January 1 with hand-carved ice sculptures and slides inspired by the film. Use our link to get up to 39% off.
ICE! featuring The Polar Express at Gaylord Palms in Orlando is similar, but following the concept of the children’s book and film. There are ice sculptures and snow tubing. Get your tickets in advance.
Would you believe that you can ski in Florida? WinterClub Indoor Ski & Snowboard in Winter Park has two indoor slopes and a simulator.
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