This week, we return to our winter theme as colder air continues to settle across most of the country, though Houston still seems to be waiting.
But with a chilly winter forecasted for much of North America, snow could be plentiful on the slopes this year. Last week, we showed you where to go for ski spots in the northeast, so it only made sense to explore a new region this week.
The Appalachian Mountains may not be best known for their skiing, but there are still many resorts worth checking out, especially if you’re not looking for the towering elevations or sub-zero temperatures.
With that said, here’s a guide to get you started planning that ski trip to the Appalachians for early 2015.
Houston to Asheville, NC from $387
A quick trip up to this western Carolina outpost gives you a couple of great options for winter fun. A mere 35 miles away, Cataloochee Ski Resort is one of the highest elevations in the region, but snowmakers are still necessary to get a consistent powder. Billed as “great skiing in the Great Smokies,” Cataloochee offers 17 lighted runs with cheap twilight lift passes, and the snow tubing runs make for a fun—and unique—alternative for the family. Sugar Mountain is less than two hours north from Asheville, and similarly popular with locals and visitors alike. An ice skating rink and a snowboard park are some of the resort’s amenities but a mile-high view of the eastern Smoky Mountains makes for skiing with a view.
Houston to Charlottesville, VA, from $316
If you like the Rocky Mountains, but don’t feel like dealing with the crowds or expense, then Snowshow Mountain Resort in West Virginia is your place. It can be tough to get to, so Charlottesville is probably still your closest option at 2.5 hours away. But Snowshoe is worth going over the river and through the woods, because it’s the best bet for natural snowfall in the area. With two separate mountains of skiable terrain, the largest vertical drop in the Allegheny Mountain range, a mean January temperature of 28 degrees and on-site shopping, this is a true getaway winter getaway in the “South.”
Houston to Knoxville: from $406
The draw here is obviously the Gatlinburg-Smoky Mountain combination just an hour southeast. Ober Gatlinburg is the only ski resort in Tennessee and a prime place to experience an urban ski vacation. The city has become an absolute boomtown over the last two decades, meaning you can get from downtown Gatlinburg to the slopes in under an hour, and that’s taking the tram. The slopes aren’t as difficult and often a bit icy, but with an amusement park and a large mall overlooking the snow, Ober Gatlinburg is about much more than skiing.