Content Produced in Partnership with Maggie Valley, North Carolina
Not every ski vacation involves a trip out West to the resorts in Colorado or Utah. Sometimes you can head south of the Mason-Dixon Line to the mountains of Western North Carolina. That’s right — you read that correctly: North Carolina. Resting at 3,020 feet, Maggie Valley is the highest incorporated valley town in the US and is a little slice of paradise for winter adventurers on the East Coast. Those high elevations and cool temperatures come together harmoniously, allowing it to play host to one of the southernmost ski areas in the United States: Cataloochee Ski Area. Considered to be one of the most affordable ski resorts in the nation according to TripAdvisor, and open from November through March each year, Maggie Valley’s 18 slopes are ideal for beginner and advanced skiers. And the best part? It’s an under-the-radar gem just waiting to be discovered.
Hit the Slopes
So how does a ski resort in the Southeast maintain enough snow to make a ski season last through March? Cataloochee Ski Area utilizes state-of-the-art snowmaking for the best powder — Mother Nature takes care of the rest. The result is a ski area devoid of slush typically found in the South. Instead, the ground is covered with snow comparable to other major ski resorts you'd typically find in Vermont, Colorado and even Canada. The ski area’s 18 slopes are a great introduction to ski etiquette and technique for beginner skiers of all ages — with lessons available throughout the season. During peak days of the season, the slopes can get busy, though. So, if you do decide to partake in a lesson, we recommend you hit the slopes early so you can really refine your skills.
Keep the Fun Going
The beautiful thing about Maggie Valley is that the temperatures are just cold enough for winter sports higher up on the mountain and just warm enough to go golfing or hiking at lower elevations. In addition to the ski slopes, Cataloochee is home to Tube World. Less than four miles away from the ski area, Tube World features 12 groomed lanes for snowtubing fun as late as March. Of course, Maggie Valley visitors can easily continue the fun off the slopes, too, with a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway (be sure to check for road closures beforehand), a hike through the Smokies, or a quick visit to nearby Biltmore Estate or Asheville (Lonely Planet’s top US destination of 2017). Popular winter hikes include trails leading to Soco Falls, a twin set of falls known to freeze early in the season, and to Purchase Knob, one of the prettiest — and highest — vistas along the Blue Ridge Parkway. No need to bring the warm ski jacket and gloves with you on these hikes either. Temperatures average around the 40s January through March.
No lodging is available at Cataloochee Ski Area. Instead, skiers spend the night a mere three miles away in Maggie Valley. This charming mountain town is located a simple 45-minute drive from Asheville in Haywood County, a place we like to refer to as a mecca for outdoor adventure. It’s more than just a great adventure scene though. Home to handcrafted moonshine distillery Elevated Mountain, a vintage motorcycle museum and affordable hotels, Maggie Valley embraces its Western North Carolina roots, giving visitors a truly authentic experience. In partnership with Cataloochee Ski Area and its Kids Ski Free program, skiers who purchase an adult pass can receive a children’s ski pass for free when they stay at a participating location. Interested? You can fly into Asheville Airport or easily drive three hours north from Atlanta or Nashville to Maggie Valley for a fun, wholesome family weekend on the slopes.