Beech Mountain Ski Resort

Beech Mountain Ski Resort has the highest elevation of any commercial ski resort in eastern North America. While other resorts such as Lake Placid, Winter Park, Killington, or Mt Snow, or Sugarloaf might come to mind first, Beech Mountain reigns. Surprisingly, the highest ski area in the East is indeed Beech Mountain, North Carolina, with a peak of 5,506 feet and a base at 4,575 feet.

Beech Mountain Ski Resort is one of about a dozen ski resorts in North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains. Because of its high elevation and location in deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, the resort gets about 80 inches of snow in an average year. Often it is snowing here when it is raining nearby. Extensive and up-to-date snowmaking facilities ensure that there is Beech Mountain skiing in even the warmest winters.

Beech Mountain Ski Resort has 9 lifts servicing 15 designated runs over 95 skiable acres. Skiers and snowboarders of all abilities should find something for them here.

Experts will love to ski Beech Mountain. North Carolina ski resorts are often justly criticized for their lack of expert terrain; the blacks are made challenging only by their icy surface. The two main black runs at Beech Mountain Ski Resort are an exception to this rule of thumb. It is true that the surface is often icy, but the steepness of White Lightning run (it is the steepest run in North Carolina) should challenge even the best downhillers. While there is a conspicuous lack of moguls elsewhere in North Carolina, Southern Star, the only other black diamond run for Beech Mountain skiing, is often left to bump over.

Intermediates will enjoy Beech Mountain skiing on Shawneehaw, and especially the narrow course of Lower Shawneehaw. Robins Run is another decent blue run. When the crowds are large and the snow is good, head to the backside of Beech Mountain and ski Oz Run off Lift 7. This is a nice wide gentle blue, often less busy than the main face.

Beginners have lots of good options when they ski Beech Mountain. College Park is a nice secluded area for first-timers. Nearby Play Yard is a larger novice area. Both runs are serviced by their own surface lifts. Freestyle and Powder Bowl are also good for beginners, but these can get crowded with skiers and snowboarders coming from the higher areas of Beech Mountain.

Beech Mountain Ski Resort has made efforts to appeal to snowboarders with its Meadows terrain park, but this is somewhat tame and there are only a few natural kickers elsewhere on the mountain. This is a good place to gain confidence in a terrain park, but not suitable for expert tricksters.

Another complaint from people who ski Beech Mountain has been the wind and cold at the peak. The face is exposed to the elements, so it is a good idea to dress warmer here than you might at other North Carolina ski resorts. However, the high elevation does have its benefits: the views across North Carolina and into Tennessee and Virginia are worth a little wind. You will miss these if you come to ski Beech Mountain Resort at night, but an afternoon snowmaking session guarantees some top-notch night skiing.

The village at Beech Mountain Ski Resort is probably the best in North Carolina, with several good restaurants, shops, rental places, and chalets. Many of the resort chalets offer good ticket and accommodation packages, making Beech Mountain a great place for a ski weekend. Sugar Mountain ski area is also nearby, so you can experience several ski resorts on a visit to Beech Mountain.

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