Best Skiing In Tennessee: Guide For Best Mountains and Dates for Prime Snow Conditions

Written by Alan
Published: January 24, 2023
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If you are looking for the next family-friendly skiing experience, this article is set to give you a detailed guide on the best mountain skiing spots in Tennessee.

When skiing is on the line, the snow simply cannot fall quickly enough for Tennesseans. In addition, the state’s proximity to some of the top family-friendly ski resorts in the nation helps skiers of all ages find their love for this popular winter sport. 

There is a ski resort for everyone, whether an experienced skier looking to practice your ski techniques or a beginner eager to check out this thrilling activity.

When the snow season starts, you will want to be at one of these five top family ski resorts in and near Tennessee.

Read on to discover the best skiing resorts in Tennessee and the best mountains and dates for prime-time snow conditions.

1 – Ober Gatlinburg, Gatlinburg, TN

The average yearly snowfall at Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort is 17 inches. The optimum time for continuous snowfall lasting up to three days is from January to March.

Located in the Smoky Mountains’ foothills, Gatlinburg is among the fastest-growing tourist destinations in America. It’s a popular tourist destination thanks to the following:

  • Striking views
  • Climate
  • A burgeoning restaurant scene
  • Excellent hiking

Unlike many other Southeast cities, Gatlinburg has four distinct seasons. That’s why the city offers its visitors a plethora of activities for all lifestyles and interests all year round.

Gatlinburg’s winters are generally colder than those of its surrounding areas. The season peaks in mid-January when temperatures drop to as low as 45 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and below eight to 10 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

The Hemlock Motel, which was open in the 1960s and the early 1970s, served as the foundation for the lower terminal of the aerial tramway until it was built from 1972 to 1973. 

The Gatlinburg Ski Resort and the Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway were initially independent. Then, in December 1962, the resort opened its doors to the public as a private club. Skiers used to have to drive up snow-covered Mount Harrison to get to the resort until Claude Anders constructed the tram.

Today, Since the winter snowfall in this region is unpredictable, they produce a lot of snow to keep the slopes covered in snow all season. In addition, they provide beginner classes from experienced teachers.

Further, you can store your skis and head over for snow tubing down the designated Tubing Hill with an inflated snow tube. Then, move across the ice of the facility’s indoor ice skating rink to carry on the wintertime enjoyment inside. 

Do you need to feel coordinated or poised while standing on ice? 

You can always sit down and enjoy Ober’s Ice Bumper Cars; there’s something for everyone. Additionally, if the weather permits, you may ride the Ski Mountain Coaster or take the Alpine Slide down the Smokies while admiring the spectacular mountaintop vistas.

Ober Gatlinburg
Ober Gatlinburg, the most well-known ski resort for families in Tennessee, is overflowing with snow day activities.

©Jaclyn Torrente/Shutterstock.com

2 – Ski Sapphire Valley Resort, North Carolina

Another family and beginner-friendly resort for skiing is the Ski Sapphire Valley. Just a short drive from Tennessee, this exquisite resort dates back to 1981, making it one of the most popular skiing destinations for kids and families. Memories are made on this 300-foot-long snow tubing run. This is experienced by every age set, both young and young at heart. 

Its relatively small perimeter measuring 30 yards, makes it a fantastic vacation destination for loved ones since you will avoid long lines and large crowds. 

Sapphire Valley receives up to 37 inches of snowfall yearly. December to February experience the most continuous snowfall that runs for up to two days.

Compared to larger, busier ski resorts in Tennessee and North Carolina, this location provides visitors with excellent value and a more personal experience.

There is no on-site lodging at Ski Sapphire Valley. However, it has teamed with local vacation homes to provide its visitors with a wide selection of hotel choices, from small cabins to opulent townhouses. So spend an exciting day on the slope side and warm up by the fire pit of a rental cabin, or take in the lovely views offered by townhouses on the lakefront. 

Lastly, the resort carries hundreds of pictures of the region’s rich history. Trusted sources say Sapphire Valley Resort will turn 70 in 2024. So to give you the most thorough history of Sapphire Valley, they will be scouring their archives of over 1,000 photos from the past century and hundreds of hours of film from now till then.

North Carolina
There is no on-site lodging at Ski Sapphire Valley. However, it has teamed with local vacation homes to provide its visitors with a wide selection of hotel choices, from small cabins to opulent townhouses.

©Anna_Gurskaya/Shutterstock.com

3 – Appalachian Ski Mountain, North Carolina

The average yearly snowfall at Appalachian Ski Mountain is 31 inches. Up to two days of constant snowfall are common from December through March.

Appalachian Ski Mountain started on December 4, 1968, when Grady Moretz and four other partners bought the area at foreclosure auction from Northwestern Bank. Blowing Rock Ski Lodge, Inc. was the ski resort’s name, which had been constructed six years previously by Mr. M.E. Thalheimer of Selma, Alabama. 

In the winter of 1962 to 1963, the ski lodge, a publicly traded firm, first opened its doors. When it was opened, the ski resort was referred to as “Blowing Rock Ski Lodge.” In 1968, it adopted its current name, Appalachian Ski Mountain. If you are looking for a ski resort where you can test yourself and learn new tricks without bothering other guests, look no further than Appalachian Ski Mountain. 

The ski resort’s three freestyle terrain parks are tucked away inside the slopes of the Appalachian Mountains. They include gigantic rail and box setups that can reach up to 40 feet and are perfect for daring riders to pull off aerial acrobatics. On top of all of this, there are nine slopes, including three black diamond trails.

Additionally, Appalachian is among the few ski resorts in Tennessee and North Carolina that offers late-night skiing until midnight, so if you can’t get enough fun on the slopes, you will be happy to know. This ski area offers an ice rink where both figure and hockey skating are permitted, in addition to skiing and snowboarding.

Moreover, the French-Swiss Ski College, a reputable ski school, is located at Appalachian Ski Mountain. More than a million people, including Secret Service agents and military members, have learned to ski and snowboard thanks to it!

Numerous hotel options are available at Appalachian and are only a short, picturesque stroll from the slopes. For families or adventurous individuals participating in the van life movement, there is also a designated place for RVs and motorhomes.

Appalachian Mountain Ski Resort
Appalachian is among the few ski resorts in Tennessee and North Carolina that offers late-night skiing until midnight.

©digidreamgrafix/Shutterstock.com

4 – Cataloochee Ski Area, North Carolina

The average yearly snowfall at Cataloochee Ski Area is 22 inches. The best peak depth is found from November through to March. Mostly due to the consistent snowfall that can last up to two days in a row.

On the opposite hillside, where the Cataloochee Ski Area first debuted in 1961, you can see down the valley from The Meadow’s highest point. With its abundant natural treasures from pristine coasts and mountain ranges, this neighboring resort is undoubtedly one of the best scenic areas in the US. Skiing down the snow-covered adjacent North Carolina mountain ranges is one of the top activities that bring tourists to the state each year.

Visit the Cataloochee Ski Area if you are a beginner and ready to take to the slopes for the first time. It is located in the hamlet of Maggie Valley, not far from Gatlinburg. Cataloochee spans 50 acres of terrain with 18 slopes, eight specifically designed for beginners. 

Slow skiing locations in the resort have a higher population of slow or beginner skiers. Therefore, skiers are typically advised to slow down in these locations to lower the danger of injury for everyone. This kid-friendly ski resort even offers a program to teach skiing and snowboarding to toddlers from the age of four to teenagers from the age of 12.

They have a great reputation as an excellent resort for beginners. Cataloochee has two black diamond routes that provide more challenging terrain for those wild at heart. 

Even expert riders who desire to experience freeskiing can accomplish this at Cataloochee. Lastly, the ski resort has a terrain park with rails reaching up to 22 feet.

Maggie Valley Elevation
Cataloochee Ski Area is located in the hamlet of Maggie Valley, not far from Gatlinburg.

©Carrie A. Hanrahan/Shutterstock.com

5 – Sugar Mountain Resort, North Carolina

The average yearly snowfall at Sugar Mountain Resort is 46 inches. Snowfall days in January and February can last up to four days. They only last one or two days in November, December, and March.

The resort’s actual building work began in early 1969, and on December 19, 1969, the ski slopes were opened. 

Visit the Sugar Mountain Resort if you want to ski on more challenging slopes. This ski resort is two hours from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It has 21 terrains served by eight contemporary lift systems. Thirteen of these terrains are for expert and advanced skiers, and the remaining slopes are for novice and intermediate skiers.

Once the sun goes down, the fun needs not to end. Many ski runs have floodlights that are operational until 10 pm. You and your pals can therefore ski far into the night! 

Visitors can skate on the facility’s 10,000-square-foot outdoor ice skating rink in addition to skiing and snowboarding. Be aware that there aren’t any cross-country skiing tracks, although there are snowshoeing and tubing trails.

Sugar Mountain
Sugar Mountain is a beautiful location for skiing in North Carolina.

©digidreamgrafix/Shutterstock.com

Key Takeaways

Winter only means one thing for many outdoor enthusiasts—it is time to hit the mountains! Of course, you most likely have a favorite mountain, whether you ski or snowboard. But if you want to travel somewhere new, look at our list of top ski resorts. 

It is no secret that the nation has many fantastic locations where one can experience world-class skiing. This is so despite the frequent controversy on this subject. Moreover, since the mountain topography varies in each of our top five ski resorts, each provides a distinctive skiing experience.

Skiing is a popular winter activity in Tennessee and the neighboring areas for both locals and tourists. Thanks to the magnificent slopes of the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains for the opportunities. There are few ski areas in and near Tennessee. Yet, those that do exist have all the necessary amenities for spectacular winter sports.

They offer the tools every beginner needs. Offering private instruction and easy routes, along with a wealth of complex ski lines to satisfy experienced skiers. Take advantage of modern lifts, inviting cafes, snug lodgings, and breathtaking views of the Tennessee Mountains. Skiers of all ages can discover their love for this well-liked winter sport. The state has proximity to some of the best family-friendly ski resorts in the country. 

Whether you are an expert skier looking to hone your skills or a beginner excited to try out this exhilarating activity, there is a ski resort for you. With all of that, you will undoubtedly be ready to visit the ski slopes in Tennessee and its environs.

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Sugar Mountain
Sugar Mountain is a beautiful location for skiing in North Carolina.
© digidreamgrafix/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Why is Gatlinburg such a popular place to visit?

Unlike many other Southeast cities, Gatlinburg has four distinct seasons. That’s why the city offers its visitors a plethora of activities for all lifestyles and interests all year round.

Where is a fun place to ski at night?

Once the sun goes down, the fun needs not to end. Many ski runs have floodlights that are operational until 10 pm. You and your pals can therefore ski far into the night at Sugar Mountain Resort in North Carolina! 

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. HC Press, Available here: https://www.hcpress.com/front-page/grady-moretz-appalachian-ski-mountain-co-founder-entrepreneur-dies-88.html
  2. Ober Gatlinburg, Available here: https://obergatlinburg.com/aerial-tramway/