Remarkable East Coast Ski Destinations: Boone, North Carolina

The fourth of a four-part series exploring remarkable ski destinations

While Boone is one of the most charming and scenic towns in the High Country, it’s also incredibly historic and continues to celebrate its links to a rugged, frontier past to this day—and its proximity to a number of outdoor activities make it the perfect spot to see some of the most breathtaking sights in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Local attractions such as Grandfather Mountain are one of many spots near Boone known for their all-season recreation opportunities. While visitors flock to Grandfather in the summer to enjoy walking, hiking, wildlife viewing, and the Mile High Swinging Bridge (America’s highest suspension footbridge), winter also offers plenty of opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts to enjoy the beauty of this popular nature park. The winter season at Grandfather Mountain, which lasts from November through March, is a bit quieter than the warmer months—but is no less spectacular. While the weather is somewhat unpredictable, the views are still fantastic and for visitors who are willing to bundle up, it’s still possible to get outside and enjoy hiking and picnics. There’s also shopping and dining at Grandfather Mountain, making it the perfect spot to spend a beautiful day.

Boone is also known for its proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most scenic drives in the United States. The Highland region of the Parkway includes Watauga County (and Boone) and offers visitors a number of nearby attractions to see throughout the many historic towns along the way.

But Boone is not just known for its stellar scenery and outdoor recreation; it’s also known for its charming downtown area that’s filled with a rich history dating back to the 1770s, and a vibrant, bustling arts scene that showcases the region’s High Country culture. The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University is just one such place in Boone that offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in local, national, and international art that can’t be found anywhere else.

Things To Do In Boone

There are plenty of ways to explore Boone’s historical side—whether it’s checking out the region’s many historic cabins, or walking in the footsteps of the town’s namesake, Daniel Boone, in scenic spots like Elk Knob State Park. See more things to do in Boone.

Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, Downtown Boone, NC Photo Courtesy of Explore Boone

When strolling along Boone’s historic downtown streets, it’s impossible to miss the many opportunities for shopping and dining that exist in this quaint, charming town. Stroll into one of the town’s eclectic art galleries, stop in at a classic country store, or visit Boone’s Winter Farmers Market to experience the distinctive Americana vibe of this historic town. Learn more about the history of Boone and see where to shop.

Where To Eat In Boone

Boone has been a popular tourist destination since the late 1880s—attracting visitors who want to explore the area’s outdoor recreation and nearby villages overflowing with rustic charm. And the food scene in Boone and the surrounding areas is yet another reason visitors flock to this historic, scenic setting. With a variety of delicious regional and international options, the restaurants in Boone are some of the best in the region, from down-home comfort food and local, diverse favorites to up-and-coming breweries that hit the spot after a long day of exploring.

Appalachian Mountain Brewery. Photo Courtesy of Explore Boone

Where to Stay in Boone

Known as the “Ski Capital of the South“, Boone’s proximity to nearby ski resorts make it the ideal place to set up a home base when visiting North Carolina during the winter months. With three epic ski resorts all within a half-hour’s drive, Boone is the perfect spot to begin any Appalachian Mountains adventure.

Just one of the spectacular cabins available in Boone. Photo Courtesy of Airbnb

In Boone and the nearby area, there is a wonderful variety of accommodation options to choose from. Valle Crucis is home to several world-class inns and bed and breakfasts, perfect for a couple’s winter get-a-way. The mountainsides throughout the area are dotted with vacation homes and cabins, ranging from quaint rustic cabins to grand mountain homes offering sweeping vistas. Boone also provides an exceptional selection of hotels & motels, from trusted national brands to locally owned “mom and pop” motels with generations of southern hospitality.  See all the places to stay in Boone.    

Boone is home to many of the well-known and loved hotel brands, La Quinta Inn & Suites, Boone. Photo Courtesy of Wyndham Hotels

Our Recommendation: The Ultimate Outdoor Adventure: Skiing (And More!) In Boone

Since 1969, winter resorts in the Boone area have offered some of the longest and largest slopes in western North Carolina. With three epic ski resorts to choose from, visitors have their pick of outdoor adventures in one of the most scenic spots to hit the slopes in the Southeast.

The High Country’s First Ski Area: Appalachian Ski Mtn.

Address: 940 Ski Mountain Road, PO Box 106, Blowing Rock NC
Distance From Boone: 12 minutes (4.4 miles)

How To Get There: From Boone to follow US-321 to turn right onto Edmiston Rd., then follow the signs to a left on Flat Top Rd., then right onto Alpine Rd.

Since 1962, Appalachian Ski Mtn. has been offering up some of the most exciting skiing in western North Carolina. Home to 12 amazing slopes, two terrain parks, an outdoor ice arena, an incredible 46,000-square-foot Bavarian-style lodge, and slopeside lodging, Appalachian Ski Mtn. is a one-stop-shop for super skiing. See the resort’s trail map here to learn more about the many ways to ski and snowboard, in addition to lift and terrain park locations.

Due to its superior snow-making capabilities, Appalachian Ski Mtn. is one of the earliest resorts to open in the Southeast —and one of the latest to close, in mid to late March. Throughout the season, the conditions at Appalachian Ski Mtn. are at peak freshness, as the resort takes pride in its ability to produce exceptional snow cover—even late in the season.

With slopes that offer something for skiers of all abilities, even beginners will have something to smile about at Appalachian Ski as it’s also home to the Southeast’s oldest and best-known ski school, the French-Swiss Ski College. With a variety of classes for both beginner and intermediate skiers, Appalachian Ski Mtn. offers private and group lessons for aspiring skiers and snowboarders.

For those who want to turn a visit to Appalachian Ski Mtn. into a winter getaway, the resort offers lodging near the slopes or within walking distance that make it easy and convenient to stay where you play. Owned by the resort and just a short walk from the lodge, these four chalets offer all the amenities for a comfortable and cozy ski retreat. From traditional chalets next to the slopes to elegant, richly furnished homes with a view, Appalachian Ski Mtn.’s accommodations are the perfect spot to relax after a long day on the slopes. There is also plenty of local lodging in Boone for visitors who want something other than a slope-side experience.

Appalachian Ski Resort & French-Swiss Ski College. Photo Courtesy of Explore Boone

Appalachian Ski Mtn.’s spacious, Bavarian-style lodge is the perfect spot to relax, unwind, and have a bite to eat after a day of boarding and skiing. In addition to the onsite restaurant, the lodge is filled with amenities including the Alpine Ski Shop, the Appalachian Gift Shop, a TV and game room, and a clothing rental shop. It’s a great place to spend some time unwinding and soaking up the scenery from the 200-foot observation deck.

There’s also plenty to see and do away from Appalachian Ski Mtn., including local attractions, restaurants, and a myriad indoor and outdoor activities in Boone. See our dining and things to do lists near Appalachian Ski Mtn.

The East’s Highest Ski Area: Beech Mountain Resort

Address: 1007 Beech Mountain Parkway PO Box 1118, Beech Mountain NC
Distance From Boone: 44 minutes (23.4 miles)

How To Get There: Take NC-105 S and NC-184 N to The Slopes Road in Beech Mountain, continue to Ski Beech Road

Known as the highest ski area in the East due to its sky-high 5,506-foot peak elevation, Beech Mountain offers a variety of terrain for both skiers and snowboarders who want a taste of adventure. With a total of 15 slopes and a vertical drop of 830 feet, the resort has something for people of all ages and skill levels. But that’s not all; Visitors can also find an amazing freestyle progression park to hone their skills on its over 50 features. There’s also a state-of-the-art tubing park for those who want to ditch the skis and boards, and take advantage of the up to 700-foot long fast and furious chutes. Located at the base of the slopes, it’s one of the most fun activities on Beech Mountain. The resort also offers both private and group lessons by expert ski and snowboard instructors for everyone, from beginners to those looking to master new and more difficult techniques. To learn more about Beech Mountain Resort’s trails, lifts, and current conditions, see their Winter Trail Map here.

Snow Tubing at Beech Mountain, Photo Courtesy of Explore Boone

There is a variety of accommodation options on Beech Mountain that make it easy to turn your day on the slopes into an epic all-inclusive getaway. From slope-side lodgings with ski-in/ski-out capabilities to rental properties with spectacular views, the resort has affiliations with a number of local spots where visitors can customize their lodging. Some accommodations may even offer packages that include tickets and shuttle service to Beech Mountain. And for those who would rather stay in a nearby inn, motel, or resort, there are a plethora of options both in the town of Beech Mountain and the surrounding towns of Boone and Banner Elk.

The Beech Mountain Resort Village is the place to be when you’re not out on the slopes. Grab a tube and ride the chutes, lace up those ice skates (ice skating closed for 2021-2022 season), hit the coffee shop, grab a bite (and a brew), or pick up much-needed equipment. The Resort Village is the ultimate place to warm up, get cozy, and admire the amazing view before heading back to the mountain for another run. There are also a ton of fun events that take place at the Beech Mountain Brewing Company every week—making it one of the best spots in the area to get cozy and escape the winter chill. For those who want to explore the surrounding area, there’s also plenty to do in the nearby village of Beech Mountain, the self-proclaimed “coolest town in North Carolina” is home to a variety of fun attractions, and other winter recreation opportunities like snowshoeing and sledding. See more things to do in Beech Mountain.

The Skybar at Beech Mountain Resort. Photo Courtesy of Explore Boone

NC’s Largest Ski Snowboard Area: Sugar Mountain Resort

Address: 1009 Sugar Mountain Drive, PO Box 369, Banner Elk NC
Distance From Boone: 29 minutes (15.6 miles)

How To Get There: Take NC-105 to Grouse Moor Drive in Avery County for 25 minutes, then pick up Sugar Mountain Drive

With a total of 20 slopes ranging from beginner to expert, Sugar Mountain Resort is located on a sprawling, scenic 115 skiable acres in the lovely village of Banner Elk. But Sugar Mountain Resort isn’t just for skiing and boarding. This epic NC destination also has a terrain park, a tubing park, ski/snowboard rental shops, two cafeterias, and more, making it the perfect place to spend a day (or a week!) in the crisp North Carolina air. The resort also has lessons for skiing and snowboarding for people of all ages, including classes specifically designed for children aged 5-10 at their Sugar Bear Ski School. Learn more about Sugar Mountain’s trails, lifts, and current conditions here.

Scenic views abound at Sugar Mountain Ski Resort

It’s not just about the skiing and boarding at Sugar Mountain. The resort also has a number of other winter recreation opportunities for those who want a break from the slopes. Try Sugar Mountain’s tubing for another fast and fun way to hit the slopes. Located on the Sugar Mountain Golf Course, the 700-foot long tubing lanes are a perfect way to enjoy the resort’s fresh powder and fun atmosphere. Sugar Mountain also has an onsite ice skating rink; located near the tubing park, the 10,000-square-foot outdoor rink is the perfect way to relax in the winter chill. Stop in at the nearby Sugar Mountain Resort Restaurant when you’re done to grab a bite and sip a hot chocolate before heading back to the slopes. Fans of snowshoeing will also find something to smile about, as the resort offers guided one-hour-long tours that include snowshoe rentals. Perfect for a casual walk or a full, intense workout, these tours are a great way to slow down and enjoy the mountain scenery.

Snowshoeing at Sugar Mountain Resort. Photo Courtesy of Explore Boone

Sugar Mountain has two cafeterias and a restaurant where visitors can find snacks or a meal in between skiing, boarding, and tubing. However, the town of Banner Elk also has delicious dining options located in its quaint downtown area for those looking to explore this beautiful area. Learn more about dining in Banner Elk.

A quick 25 minutes from Banner Elk and about the same distance from Boone in Seven Devils, NC., is the southeast’s largest snow tubing park – Hawksnest Snow Tubing. Explore one or all of Hawksnest’s four snow tubing areas, each offering different terrain and experiences tailored to tubers of all ages. Hawksnest offers a snowbird winter zipline adventure for the high adrenaline sports inclined. Soar through this four-cable tour, featuring a 2,000-foot zipline with panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Zipline and Snowtubing at Hawksnest Snow Tubing. Photo Courtesy of Explore Boone

Boone is the perfect spot to visit during the colder winter months. Located in North Carolina’s beautiful High Country and part of a series of charming towns and villages, the region’s abundance of winter weather recreation make it the perfect vacation destination for those looking to hit the slopes—or just get outside and take in the lovely, breathtaking views. Boone’s proximity to the region’s best ski resorts makes it one of the best places to visit in the scenic mountains of northwestern North Carolina. With something for everyone, this small Blue Ridge Mountain town will charm and delight visitors with some of the best winter recreation available in the Southeast.

Remarkable East Coast Ski Destinations: The Berkshires

Read next: Part One of Remarkable East Coast Ski Destinations: The Berkshires, Massachusetts

Explore the winter wonders of The Berkshires in western Massachusetts, from idyllic small towns, to their famous New England slopes.

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