If you're itching for a ski trip but want to skip the plane flight, several options are located within a few hours' drive from Chattanooga. These Southeastern resorts may not have the mounds of snow you might find in other areas of the country, but their accessibility and increasingly advanced snowmaking capabilities make them worthy of consideration for a day on the slopes.
Ober Mountain: Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Distance from Chattanooga: About three hours
Why go: Tennessee's only ski resort, Ober is only a few hours away in the Great Smoky Mountains, where you have plenty of other outdoor activities to choose from if the weather doesn't cooperate. The resort, which has nine trails and a terrain park, underwent a rebranding as Ober Mountain (it was previously Ober Gatlinburg) when it was sold to the owners of Yee-Haw Brewing Company in 2022. The mountain's sit-down restaurant has been converted to a '70s-themed bar, and the new owners also plan to introduce more year-round activities, including mountain biking.
Place to eat: Known for its cheesesteaks and cheeseburgers, Split Rail Eats boasts a self-serve beer wall with 16 taps and a cozy atmosphere located off of Gatlinburg's main drag in the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community.
Place to drink: The Rampant Lion is a Celtic pub offering a great beer and cocktail selection off the beaten path.
Place to sleep: Bearskin Lodge on the River is minutes from Ober, near the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and within walking distance of area restaurants.
Hatley Pointe: Mars Hill, North Carolina
Distance from Chattanooga: About 4 hours
Why go: Located about 30 miles north of Asheville, the former Wolf Ridge ski resort is under new ownership and reopening this winter as Hatley Pointe, described on its website as a "boutique mountain resort" with some of the most challenging terrain in the Southeast. The mountain has 15 lighted runs across 55 acres, and resort upgrades include an updated lodge, new rental equipment and improved snowmaking capabilities.
Where to eat: Papa Nick's is a quaint, family-owned Italian restaurant known for its pizza and garlic knots.
Where to drink: Mars Theatre Brewing Co. offers a rotating selection of craft beer in an old 1940s movie theater that hosts live music on weekends.
Where to sleep: Vacation rentals are the way to go. Choose from a range of cabins, apartments and more unique options like domes and yurts at airbnb.com.
Beech Mountain Resort: Beech Mountain, North Carolina
Distance from Chattanooga: About 4.5 hours
Why go: At 5,506 feet, Beech Mountain is at the highest elevation of any ski resort in the East. In 2022, the resort added a third four-person lift, increased its snowmaking capacity and redesigned its terrain. Beech Mountain includes 17 trails across 95 acres and two terrain parks. In the warmer months, it is a prime mountain-biking destination best for intermediate to advanced riders.
Where to eat: Holy Smokes is a casual barbecue joint known for its pulled-pork sandwiches, smoked sausages and brisket, as well as its view. Satisfy your sweet tooth with the restaurant's homemade fudge, ice cream and milkshakes.
Where to drink: Take a break from the slopes at 5,506' Skybar atop Beech Mountain, which boasts stellar views from its expansive deck. The bar can only be accessed by skiers and snowboarders with lift tickets during ski season, and patrons can ride the chairlift or hike up the mountain during the off-season.
Where to sleep: Best Western Mountain Lodge at Banner Elk is located between Beech and Sugar Mountains, giving you convenient access to both of North Carolina's largest ski resorts. Rates start at $120/night and include breakfast.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort: Snowshoe, West Virginia
Distance from Chattanooga: About eight hours
Why go: A 256-acre resort in the Allegheny Mountains, Snowshoe is widely considered the best option for skiing in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. There are 61 runs for a variety of skill levels across three areas, including several double-black-diamond runs in the resort's Western Territory, and five terrain parks.
Where to eat: Old Spruce Cafe and Tavern is great for a quick lunch, like a craft brew with a Cubano sandwich or jerk chicken.
Where to drink: Tuque's Bar and Grill, the casual upstairs neighbor to the more upscale Appalachia Kitchen in the Corduroy Inn complex, is a good spot for both drinks and food. Try the poutine or the meatloaf sliders.
Where to sleep: Located next to Snowshoe's Powder Monkey lift and a short walk from Snowshoe Village, Corduroy Inn & Lodge is a fairly new property that offers studios, lofts and one- and two-bedroom suites with fireplaces.