You don't have to spend money on a plane ticket out west to spend time on the slopes. A handful of ski resorts within driving distance of Chattanooga are worth exploring for a day, a weekend or even an entire week this winter when cabin fever strikes. Check out our roundup of ski areas in the Southeast to find the right fit for your skill level and vacation preferences.
Drive time: 3 hours
Best for: Families who want plenty of activity options in addition to skiing
Ride the aerial tram from Gatlinburg to Ober, Tennessee's only ski resort. It features 10 trails with a summit elevation of 3,300 feet and a vertical drop of 500 feet. An abundance of other winter activities are available, such as ice skating, ice bumper cars and the ski mountain coaster.
Lift ticket prices TBD. More information at obergatlinburg.com/winter.
Cataloochee Ski Area
Drive time: 3.5 hours
Best for: Beginners
Cataloochee features five lifts and 18 trails on its 50 skiable acres. It's a great place to learn, has a terrain park and all trails have lights for night use. However, if you're looking for lots of advanced terrain, you'll probably want to look elsewhere.
Tickets for six hours on weekends/holidays are $76/adult, $56/junior (12 and younger). More prices at cataloochee.com.
Drive time: 4 hours
Best for: Families, combining with a trip to Asheville
You'll find runs for all skill levels across the resort's 54 acres, though only two of the 14 trails are considered advanced. Wolf Ridge features a 700-foot vertical drop, four lifts and lights for nighttime skiing. There's plenty to do off the slopes, from horseback riding to hiking and caving. You could also easily tack on skiing at Wolf Ridge to a trip to Asheville, located about 30 minutes south of the resort.
Day pass for weekends/holidays is $70/adult (18-64), $52/student, free for seniors. More prices at skiwolfridgenc.com.
Sugar Mountain Resort
Drive time: 4 hours
Best for: Variety
Established in 1969, Sugar Mountain is one of the oldest ski resorts in the Southeast and the largest in North Carolina. With a summit of 5,300 feet and a 1,200-foot vertical drop, the resort boasts 125 acres of skiable terrain. You can also partake in other winter activities like snowshoeing and ice skating or settle in for a relaxing day at the spa. Those who are new to skiing or don't go often may appreciate the option to rent ski jackets and bibs — something you won't find at some of the smaller ski resorts.
Day pass for weekends/holidays is $80/adult, $57/child (5-11). More prices at skisugar.com/tickets/.
Appalachian Ski Mountain
Drive time: 4.5 hours
Best for: Families, beginners
Appalachian's nine runs are split evenly between beginner, intermediate and advanced trails. The resort is home to the French-Swiss Ski College, one of the oldest and most well-known ski schools in the Southeast.
Tickets on weekend days are $69/adult (13-59), $49/child (6-12) and senior (60 and older). More prices at appskimtn.com/ski-tickets.
Beech Mountain Resort
Drive time: 5 hours
Best for: Families, apres ski
At an elevation of 5,506 feet, Beech Mountain is the highest ski resort in the Eastern U.S. It includes 17 trails on 95 skiable acres, along with tubing and ice skating. With its own brewery and a "skybar" at the summit with panoramic views and live music, apres ski is more than an afterthought at Beech Mountain. The resort also has four on-site restaurants.
Tickets on weekends/holidays are $75/adult (13-64), $65/child (5-12) and senior (65-69). More prices at beechmountainresort.com.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort
Drive time: 8 hours
Best for: Real snow, lots of runs with varied terrain
Snowshoe is the closest place within the region that's reminiscent of the ski resorts out west. Snowshoe boasts 61 runs on 257 skiable acres across two mountains. Advanced skiers can head to the area known as the Western Territory, which features two 1.5-mile black-diamond runs with a 1,500-foot drop and 60% pitch. Snowshoe Village has plenty of options for apres ski, including dining and shopping when you're ready for some time off the slopes.
Tickets for January weekends are $129/adult (23-74), $116/young adult (13-22), $110/junior (5-12). More prices at snowshoemountain.com.