Cataloochee Ski Resort

Cataloochee Ski Resort, 35 miles west of Asheville, is regularly rated as one of the best ski resorts in North Carolina. Expert snowmaking and high elevation gives Cataloochee one of the longest and snowiest seasons in North Carolina. The base area features a comfortable lodge, sun deck, and center for Cataloochee Ski Resort rentals.

In the summer, the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina are a prime area for fishing, camping, and hiking. In winter, when the cold weather comes and snow blankets the hills, ski resorts in North Carolina do a thriving trade.

Cataloochee Ski Area opened on Moody Top Mountain in the early 1960s, making it one of the oldest ski resorts in North Carolina together with Appalachian Mountain Ski Area. Today, Cataloochee Ski Resort ("Cat" to locals) has five lifts, including the Rock Island Line, which transports riders all the way to the 5,400-feet summit, one of the highest elevations of any ski area in eastern North America. From there, skiers and snowboarders can access 14 designated runs over 15 skiable acres and a vertical drop of 740 feet.

Advanced skiers should head straight to Omigosh run, skiers' right from the top of the hill. This is one of only two black-rated runs at Cataloochee; the other is Alley Cat, also near the summit. Neither will seriously challenge most intermediate skiers, except in severely icy conditions. The only double-black-rated area at Cataloochee is the small terrain park, "Cat Cage", perfect for snowboarders.

Most runs from the top of Cataloochee Ski Area are rated blue. The longest, Snowbird, winds down the left of the mountain. This used to bottleneck into the blue-rated Lower Omigosh, but Cataloochee Ski Area recently added two short runs, Short & Sweet and Turkey Trot, to give another access to the base area.

Cataloochee Ski Area is a great place to learn how to ski. Tickets are fairly affordable; the regular adult day price of $50 on a weekend drops to $30 or less for night or weekday skiing. Cataloochee Ski Resort rentals are available for about $20 a day. Ticket prices can be combined with lessons and Cataloochee Ski Resort rentals for a great learners deal.

Rabbit Run, an aptly named bunny slope, is a great short trail for first-timers serviced by a surface lift. For youngsters, a magic carpet lift and run provides a great introduction to the sport. Easy Way triple lift takes older novices to two gentle green runs, great practice for the blues and blacks near the summit.

Cataloochee Ski Area is a small resort, but if you live in the southern United States it provides a great introduction to skiing or snowboarding. Lift lines are short, especially on weekdays, and the staff are all friendly and accommodating. Visitors seeking a nightlife and excitement will probably want to stay in nearby Asheville, but there are also some good hotels and inns nearby (look under lodging on the Cataloochee Ski Area website). A ski vacation at Cataloochee Ski Resort can be a great way to get started or reacquainted with winter sports.

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