What began as largely an Appalachian community and Cherokee hunting ground is now one of North Carolina’s premiere ski resorts. It was established in 1961 when a rancher wanted to put his land to good use in the winter as well. Cataloochee Ski Resort is an absolutely stunning resort in the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina.
The resort is open throughout the winter months from November to February and usually has a reduced schedule in March. The top elevation is 5,400 feet and the resort features a vertical drop of more than 700 feet. Cataloochee is the oldest and most well-established of North Carolina's ski resorts. Cataloochee has artificial snow making equipment which allows them to have great skiing conditions despite the weather. They are also a member of the Sustainable Slopes Program, which was started to help conserve natural resources. The ski area spans 50 acres. The mile-high slopes have a top elevation of 5,400 feet and a bottom elevation of 4,760 feet, which means a vertical drop of about 740 feet. There are 12 runs and trails. The slopes are divided as such: 25 percent are beginner slopes, 50 percent are intermediate, and 25 percent are advanced and expert. There are five chair lifts that can carry thousands of people around the mountain every hour. The ski resort has plenty to offer all ages and ability levels with its wide variety of terrain and impeccably groomed trails.
Cataloochee Ski Area's PSIA member Snow School teaches everything from the basics for novices to new techniques for experts The easiest slopes at Cataloochee are isolated from the rest of the resort which is great news for first-timers who are unsure of their skills and may be feeling a little bit embarrassed. Beginner snowboarders and skiers can therefore take initial lessons without having to worry. Both group and private lessons ranging from beginning to advanced levels are available. They also separate the classes for adults and children. Children's ski classes start with children aged 4 all the way to age 12. Also, snowboarding classes are available for children aged 8 to 12.
Cataloochee is conveniently located 35 miles west of Asheville, making it a viable day trip destination. There is no ski-in/ski-out lodging, but the towns of Maggie Valley, Waynesville and of course, Asheville have a wonderful selection of cozy and secluded cabins, comfortable hotels, spacious modern condos and basic budget motels. The resort normally offers incredible ski and stay deals at many of the partnering resorts in the area. Also, in line with its family friendly philosophy, there is a great “kids ski and stay free” promotion every winter, which is sure to put a smile on parent’s faces.
The Great Smoky Mountains are famous for a lot of things such as abundant and diverse wildlife, some of the country’s best hiking, the highest peaks in the whole Appalachian Range, rich Native American history as well as some interesting antebellum and Civil War history. The top elevation is 5,400 feet and there is an exhilarating vertical drop of more than 740 feet. There are 12 named runs, 25% beginner, 50% intermediate, and 25% are advanced. The mountain only receives an average of 40” of snow each year, but proudly boasts one of the most advanced and efficient snow-making systems in the East. Additionally, its slopes and terrain parks are open at night.
There are two complete terrain parks at Cataloochee, one is great for beginners new to park riding and freestyle skiing, while the other has an impressive array of bigger manmade and natural features. The Cat Cage Terrain Park offers plenty of thrills with ramps, rails, boxes and jibs. Additionally there are snow guns that specifically service these two areas all winter, which means that conditions will be ideal and perfect for shredding. The park’s creation team work incredibly hard to build, shape and maintain the features all winter.
There is a snowtubing park located at Cataloochee which is open during the day and at night. There is also a great PSIA certified ski and snowboard school which is perfect for all ability levels. The beginner snowboarding school takes children from aged 8. Also nearby is the town of Asheville, which is a wonderful place to visit in the evenings or as a day trip off the mountain.
There is only one bar located slop side and the après scene is really not much to speak of since Cataloochee is so family focused. However, visitors would do well to head to nearby Asheville. The town has a thriving and fun nightlife, with great live music and an active bar scene. Music enthusiasts will love the Orange Peel Social Aid and Pleasure Club in downtown Asheville, which was recently awarded on Rolling Stone’s list of top five live music venues in the entire nation.
Maggie Valley is conveniently located on Interstate 40 between Asheville, NC and Knoxville, TN. Take exit 20 and follow 276 South. Make a right at 19 South. Once in Maggie Valley make a right at the Cataloochee sign.Those coming from Atlanta and other points south- take Route 441 North then take US 23 to Waynesville. At Waynesville take US 276 North to Maggie Valley. At the intersection with US 19, take 19 South to Cataloochee sign.