As the weather turns cold, Midlands snow sports fans check weather reports for ski resorts in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
A forecast for snow is ideal. Dry nights with overnight lows in the 20s also are perfect for man-made snow. Most of the Southeastern resorts have had a little of both already. They’re all holding their breath that a forecast for rain this weekend will instead turn into snow at the highest elevations.
Many of the resorts are crowded on regular weekends and even more packed on holiday weekends. The pre-Christmas period usually is less crowded, as are weekdays in January and February.
Here’s a rundown of the North Carolina resorts.
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Boone area: Appalachian ( appskimtn.com), Beech ( beechmountainresort.com) and Sugar ( skisugar.com) resorts are going strong early in the season. All three have just about anything you can get in a ski experience in the Southeast, though Beech and Sugar offer more of the resort feel.
Just across the border: If you want to boost the South Carolina economy, consider staying at one of the mountain state parks – cabins are available at Devils Fork, Oconee and Table Rock ( southcarolinaparks.com). The smaller North Carolina facilities at Sapphire Valley and Scaly Mountain (tubing online) are relatively short, scenic rides from those parks. Sapphire Valley aims to open for the season on Saturday, though that might be subject to the weekend rain/snow line.
Maggie Valley area: Cataloochee Ski Area ( cataloochee.com) is a short climb off U.S. 19 about 30 miles west of Asheville. Maggie Valley is set up for tourism, with plenty of places to stay. The ski area has been open for weeks, and a tubing park on U.S. 19 opens Saturday.
North of Asheville: Just off I-26 north of Asheville is Wolf Ridge ( skiwolfridgenc.com), a full-service resort working to overcome the destruction of one of its lodges by fire in March. The resort wasn’t open early in the week, but its website indicated it would open soon.
Tubing: Snow tubing is a fun way to get out in the snow without worrying about falling down. You start off in a sitting position, sliding down a path on a plastic tube. In addition to the tubing places already mentioned, Jonas Ridge ( jonasridgesnowtube.com) is a tubing-only facility about halfway between Boone and Asheville.