Biggest Skier Visit Day Ever at Some North Carolina Ski Areas? We think so!

The last two mornings have been in the single digits for most all of our ski areas. This morning’s temps have "SOARED" to the teens and 20s in most cases and some natural snow is in the forecast for today with most areas expecting a couple inches or so of snow. There is some chance that some areas will see perhaps 6" of snow from now through Tuesday.

There IS a winter Weather Watch posted: It reads:

COLD AIR AND PLENTY OF MOISTURE WILL MOVE INTO NORTH CAROLINA MOUNTAINS FROM THE NORTHWEST TONIGHT. WIDESPREAD 1 TO 3 INCHES OF SNOW ACCUMULATIONS ARE EXPECTED BY NOON MONDAY…ESPECIALLY NEAR THE TENNESSEE BORDER. SNOW SHOWERS MAY LINGER MONDAY AFTERNOON INTO TUESDAY…WITH AN ADDITIONAL 2 INCHES OR MORE OF ACCUMULATION POSSIBLE. STORM TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF GENERALLY 3 TO 5 INCHES ACROSS THE AREA CAN BE EXPECTED BY TUESDAY EVENING.

THE BIGGEST SKIER VISIT DAY IN THREE SEASONS!?!?! WE THINK SO…

We took a three hour tour and visited about every angle of Sugar and Beech Mountains on Saturday and we shot some video of how great the conditions are there right now. We also captured the crowds that were out in force. We’ll post that video in a couple of hours so you may want to check back for that. The quick summary is that around noon on Saturday, all of Sugar’s lots were full of cars and LOT #6 out on Hwy 184 was near capacity. Lift lines were not too bad as several told us that they were only about 10-15 minutes long. However there were tons of people walking and catching the shuttles from the Highway and the Village and by 3pm cars were parking along the side of the highway. That was a HUGE crowd and I’d imagine lift lines were crazy and skier visit numbers were the highest single day in several seasons and perhaps the biggest day ever at Sugar.

We cruised up above Ski Beech around 1pm and the top two parking areas were full but the third (bottom) lot was only about half full. The bunny slope was uncrowded and two of the lifts had nobody on them. HOWEVER, maybe the Beech crowd was just late arriving because by 2pm the lots were full and the bottom of the mountain was busier than I’ve seen it in several seasons. I’m going out on a limb here to say that this was not the largest crowd ever at Ski Beech because even once packed at the bottom, the lift to the far right as you face the mountain only had one of every ten chairs occupied. The lift coming up to the top from Lower Southern Star was a bit busier but only about half full. The Quad Lift line was pretty long and I’d estimate 10-15 minute waits at 2pm.

So this particular MLK Crowd is the best in at least three or four seasons for both ski areas (and we’d predict the same is true for all of the ski areas) and Saturday may rank as the best, single day, skier-visit day for many ski resorts. I’d bet money on it for Sugar! Everyone that we spoke with spoke of how great the snow was and nobody seemed to mind the crowded slopes.

I also checked out Ski Beech’s new Tubing Hill and that is one, well thought out tubing hill. It’s relatively short (200-300′), compared to tubing areas at Wisp, Snowshoe or Winterplace, etc…but they built the lanes perhaps twice as wide as most that we’ve seen. They only offer two lanes, but they are smooth as silk and you can tell that safety is Beech’s number one priority. There are some nice mats at the bottom to slow you down at the bottom and a huge snow hill at the bottom to ride you up and back to the base safely. This hill will be a huge hit – mostly for kids – and everyone was having a ball on it while we were there.

We shot some lengthy video and invite you to check back later this morning as we will be posting it by lunchtime.  Although crowded I’d tell you guys that may be hesitating on driving up and skiing on Sunday – to head up to Ski Beech.  They will be crowded but less so, and if you’ll hit the two lifts mentioned above, there will be little or no lift lines.

Here’s the tour for today:

Appalachian Ski Mountain – 17° – 100% open with all 10 trails, both terrain parks and ice skating open! Conditions are awesome. They did not make snow last night. They have so much base that they will now only make snow when needed! App is reporting a base of 77-103"! If you’ve been thinking about a season pass but have not bought one, App has dropped their rates.

Lower Season Membership Rates Begin January 18th

Lower Membership rates go into effect Sunday, January 18th for skiers and riders considering a late purchase of an Appalachian Ski Mtn. Season Membership. From January 18th through January 31st, individual or family membership prices will be 20% off the regular season rate.

Any Appalachian Ski Mtn. member also receives 50% off ski tickets at Snowshoe Mountain, WV. Certain holiday blackout dates apply. Appalachian’s last scheduled day of skiing is Sunday, March 29th. Appalachian has skied through its scheduled closing date 9 of the last 10 years. Check out the rates!

Cataloochee Ski Area – 25° – 100% open with 14 of 14 trails with a base of 48-82", terrain features, snow tubing and great conditions.

Ski Beech – 18° – They are 18 degrees higher than yesterday morning when they were at zero. Beech has 7 of 7 trails open with a great little tubing hill and ice skating open. Conditions were "awesome" on Saturday and they were making snow on closed terrain for the most part, with the exception of Robbins Run that they were still blasting. A lot of snow is on Southern Star and you may see Beech open that soon as well as White Lightning (which they reported that they would be working on next.)

Sugar Mountain – 18° – They continue to grow their base and now report 42-70" and they offer 18 of 20 trails, terrain park, snow tubing and ice skating. Conditions are simply awesome at Sugar as well. NASTAR will be held on Big Red today and tomorrow at Noon. Registration begins at 11:30am.

The outdoor ice rink is open today from 10am until 10pm. The last session starts at 8:00.

Tubing is open from 10am to 10pm with 3 lanes in operation. The last session starts at 8pm.

Wolf Ridge – 26° – They added 14-6" of manmade and now offer 44-54" on 11 trails of 20. That is the most open terrain of the season. They also have tubing open and reports are that Wolf is in excellent shape.

Remember to check back for the video!

As always, be sure to click over to www.SkiSoutheast.com  for more news about ALL of the ski resorts of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic including more photos of the day, more snow news, more videos…and just MORE!

Send your comments, photos, videos, and trip reports to: [email protected]

 

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Mike Doble
Mike is the Editor and founder of SkiSoutheast.com, SkiNC.com and ResortCams.com. Since September 1996 he has posted more than 13,000 posts, articles, photos and videos promoting all of the ski areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.Mike is the father of four daughters, is an avid skier and enjoys golf, tennis, kayaking and hiking in the mountains. Winter snowsports and Summer boating on Watauga Lake are among his favorite pastimes.