Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Beech Mountain Ski Resort is the highest ski resort in the East, scraping the sky at 5,506 feet. Beech Mountain, NC, located just outside of Banner Elk, is within a gas tank’s drive from Atlanta, offers affordable lift tickets and accommodations, and they dote on families. What more could you want?
Whether you want to ski Beech, or just play in the North Carolina snow, these advantages work together to make it a brilliant choice for a winter family vacation. Here’s everything you need to know about one of the best ski areas in the south — Beech Mountain Ski Resort in North Carolina!
COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN BEECH MOUNTAIN
- Best Shuttle To Resort: In winter, the Beech Alpen Inn is a snow scene and you can walk to the slopes or you can catch a complimentary shuttle to Ski Beech village about a mile away.
- Best Family-Friendly Spot: With an amazing indoor pool, playground, hot tub, and more — Pinnacle in Beech Mountain is the perfect family-friendly spot.
- Best Condo: This Cozy Beech Mountain Condo is just 2 miles to Beech Mountain Ski Resort and features access to an indoor pool and more.
BEECH MOUNTAIN SKI RESORT
Whether you have yet to experience skiing with your kids or you’ve done it before, Beech Mountain Ski Resort is a fantastic place for a family ski trip, especially if it’s your first time. You might not have time for a week-long vacation from Atlanta, but it is easy to make a weekend jaunt to play in the North Carolina snow at Beech Mountain.
There are several ski resorts in North Carolina, but Beech Mountain hails as the highest elevation to ski east of the Rockies. This means that if there is snow in the forecast for Western North Carolina, you are more likely to experience it at Beech Mountain. Plus Beech Mountain Ski Resort has 17 trails and 95 skiable acres of terrain.
Winter in the southeast can be fussy; it can be snowing one weekend and bordering on hot the next. Don’t let this deter you from planning your trip. If the weather is not cooperating, depend on Beech to make excellent snow. They have 65 high-tech, powerful snow guns and over 100 smaller ones.
They also have a Terrain Park, so you can practice your freestyle skills — or just watch as others do!
BEECH MOUNTAIN RENTALS
Once you check into your condo, drive to Beech Mountain Ski Resort and pick up your rental equipment even if you’re not skiing that evening. The morning rental lines are LONG; our objective is maximize your time on the slopes. If you pick up skis the night before, there is generally not an additional charge and you buy yourself an extra hour in the morning.
Even if you are getting your skis the night before, be patient and build in a bit of time. Skis are selected and adjusted based on height and weight, so for safety reasons, put down what you weigh, not what you wish you weighed.
It may be cheaper to rent equipment elsewhere and bring it, however, the Beech Mountain resort staff are only allowed to make adjustments to equipment they rent, so if you run into issues, you could be out of luck if you have rented your ski equipment elsewhere.
A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO SKI AND GEAR RENTALS
According to Talia Freeman, marketing manager at Beech Mountain Resort, a lot of would-be skiers decide they don’t like the sport before they even get on the mountain because they find the process of getting the gear and getting around intimidating.
Don’t let ski equipment keep you off the slopes — you’d be missing so much! It’s not as hard as it sounds and once you get used to it, you’ll be walking in those ski boots like a pro. Here is a Beginner’s Guide to Ski Rental and Gear and what you need to know to look like a pro.
- Clothing Rental: If you are renting clothing (usually just jackets and pants) from the ski resort, do this first. Clothing rental is likely not in the same place as equipment rental and you’ll want to be dressed for the slopes when you get your boots and skis.
- Rental Boots: If you’ve never worn ski boots, it’s an odd feeling. They are designed with a slant at the back to keep you leaning forward, the stance you’ll need going down the slope. They are also very rigid to protect your ankles.
Make sure you get a good fitting boot. Allow extra room for bulky socks and if it doesn’t feel right in the equipment room, it won’t get better on the slopes, so don’t feel bad about requesting a different size or assistance.
Most ski boots need to be tight, but you’ll want a little give at the thigh. Make sure the ski pants are on the outside of the boot. This helps to keep snow out of the boot, but also doesn’t add bulk to the thigh.
- Walking in Ski Boots: Ski boots are rigid. Bend your knees slightly and walk heel to toe. When you are going down steps, turn sideways, keep a hold of the railing and walk toe to heel. Walking in ski boots is like walking in heels, once you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad.
- Rental Skis: Rental skis must be fitted to the boots. Once you find the right fit for your boots, give one to the ski rental folks so they can adjust the bindings on the skis to fit you.
- Walking with Skis: Skis are big, bulky and a little unwieldy. To make it easier to carry, lock them together by the brakes (those things sticking out on the bottom), hoist them up on your shoulder with your shoulder between the bindings, and point the tips down slightly.
- Rental Poles: Poles are based on your height and it really doesn’t matter what type of pole you use. As a beginner, it will mostly be used for getting you back on your feet when you fall.
- What do I do with my shoes? All ski resorts have lockers where you can keep your shoes and valuables while you are out on the slopes. Find out how much the lockers are beforehand so you can have cash on hand.
Ski rental areas get real wet as people come off the slopes and the snow melts off their boots. When you return your gear, have your shoes right beside you or bring an extra pair of socks in case you step in a big puddle or just can’t avoid it getting to your locker.
- Timing: Getting fitted for gear can take a while, especially on busy days. Each set of skis has to be calibrated to the individual, so it’s a personalized fit every time. Allow at least an hour to get your gear and get fitted. That means if you plan to be on the slopes skiing at 10 am, you’ll need to arrive at the mountain no later than 9 am to keep your schedule.
WHY YOU NEED SKI SCHOOL
If your kids are new to skiing, or if they (or you) may need a refresher, then I recommend a ski lesson. Ski School helps your kids feel more confident on the skis and the North Carolina snow. It will teach them fundamentals they will use for the rest of the weekend, plus instructors give a recommendation on the trails suitable for your ability.
A ski lesson at Beech Mountain also creates a positive experience that he or she will bring forward with them into the next family ski trip.
Ski school at Beech Mountain resort fills up fast, so sign up as soon as you arrive in the morning at 8 a.m. Both group and private lessons are available.
SNOWBOARDING VS. SKIING AT BEECH MOUNTAIN SKI RESORT
When Sue went to Beech Mountain Ski Resort, her boys were super excited to try snowboarding for the first time after following the shredders at the X-Games. However, after a morning trying to get the hang of it, her middle son decided to try skiing instead. In our opinion, skiing is easier to learn than snowboarding, and probably better if it’s your first time out.
Ski school instructors don’t recommend snowboarding for those 6 and under. They feel size and coordination at that age make it very difficult for kids to be successful at snowboarding.
SKI SESSIONS AT BEECH MOUNTAIN SKI RESORT
Every skier and snowboarder is required to have a slope ticket to be on the slopes. There are two locations on-site where you can purchase your slope ticket — The Lower Ticket Booth in the Resort Village and The Upper Ticket Booth, located adjacent to the Lodge and in front of the Play Yard.
You can also purchase your slope tickets online, and they can be redeemed at a Ticket Booth.
There are several different ski sessions to choose from, so you can find the one that fits you and your crew best. Tickets start at $26 and go up. Adults over age 70 ski free, as do kids 4 and under with a paid adult.
- Full Day ticket: The session time is from 9am-5pm, giving beginners plenty of time to get their fill of the slopes.
- Twilight: This session is from 1pm-Close. Late risers — this one’s for you!
- Half-Day tickets: You can choose from either a Morning Half Day (9am-1pm) or an Afternoon Half Day (1pm-5pm). This may be a good choice if you or your kids are just starting out and aren’t sure if you’ll love it. You can always upgrade to a full day.
- Night Ticket: This ticket lets you on the slops from 5pm-Close. Skiing at night is a whole new experience!
- Beech Pass: Ski ALL DAY — 9am-Close.
WHAT TO DO OFF THE SLOPES
FREE SLEDDING HILL FOR KIDS
Beech Mountain Ski Resort has plenty of things to do off the slopes as well. When you’re ready to take a break from skiing and snowboarding — you’ll find plenty of choices!
Sticking with the snowy theme, one of the things the kids will love is taking a trip to the free sledding hill at the Visitor Center in the town of Beech Mountain. Sledding is free, and you can rent or purchase sleds, or bring you own. The hill is intended for kids 12 and under, but adults can ride down with their kids if necessary.
If there’s not enough natural snow, don’t worry! They have multiple high-powered snow machines in place on the hill. If you want to check conditions, check out the Beech Mountain Web Cam.
Hours of operation for the Sledding Hill are 9-5 pm Monday through Sunday and holidays, weather permitting.
Beech Mountain Resort has constructed a state-of-the-art tubing park adjacent to the Resort Village at the base of the slopes. It’s a great location that provides for extra long tubing runs, and offers convenient access to Beech Mountain Brewing Co., and shopping and dining in the Resort Village.
With chutes up to 700 feet in length, all ages can enjoy an exhilarating ride. Our tubing area is serviced by a magic carpet conveyer, which transports riders quickly to the top!
Participants must be 42” or taller to ride, and they do not allow children to ride on a parent’s lap. This is a strict height requirement, so don’t try to get past it! Tickets start at $32, and each session is an hour and 45 minutes long.
The Beech Mountain Resort Village offers ice skating, the already-mentioned tubing, a coffee shop, a retail store, a ski repair/rental shop, a brewery and a snack shop. You’ll pretty much find everything you need in the alpine village.
The Lodge Cafeteria is a great place to grab a quick bite in a place with a warm, family-friendly atmosphere. For the adults, Beech Mountain Brewing Company offers live music and a variety of spirits, along with yummy eats like burgers and wings.
Stop by Ski Beech Sports for everything you need for a great day on the slopes, or visit Beech Mountain Gifts for souvenirs.
SHOPPING AND DINING IN THE TOWN OF BEECH MOUNTAIN
While in town at the free sledding hill, grab a delicious pizza at the Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria; it is directly across Main Street from the free Beech Mountain sledding hill. Kids enjoy dinner there because the pizza is tasty and there is a game room in back with arcades, pool tables and more.
Located at the White Wolf Lodge, Holy Smokes BBQ is a convenient, family-friendly stop for great BBQ on Beech Mountain. Enjoy their famous house pulled pork, with their homemade signature sauces. You don’t want to miss their signature Apple Butter BBQ sauce on a pulled pork sandwich or their 1/2 pound smoked sausage plate. Save room — they’ve got amazing homemade fudge too!
Ready to do some shopping?
No visit to Beech Mountain is complete without a stop at Fred’s General Mercantile. Fred Pfohl is an interesting fellow and you’ll find him a short walk from the community sledding hill at Fred’s General Mercantile. His motto is “If you don’t see it, ask for it…If we don’t have it, you don’t need it,” and he’s right.
This store has everything from ski equipment (including rental clothes) to groceries, and even items literally displayed in a kitchen sink. There are three floors of shopping, so make sure to check it all out.
The bottom floor also includes a deli where you can get sandwiches or an awesome bacon, egg and cheese breakfast biscuit – with bacon cooked to perfection.
OTHER SKI RESORTS IN NORTH CAROLINA
In addition to Beech Mountain Resort, there are several other places to go skiing in North Carolina.
Sugar Mountain Resort is basically at the foot of Beech Mountain North Carolina, and another good choice. It’s so close in fact, that you could ski Beech in the morning, then do some Sugar Mountain tubing in the afternoon.
The Beech Mountain Visitors Center free sledding hill is a great warm up to snow tubing at Hawksnest, the largest snow tubing park on the East Coast, located only about 30 minutes from Beech Mountain. This former ski resort offers 20 lanes of snow tubing plus a zip line course.
Appalachian Ski Mountain is another great choice for beginners. The French Swiss Ski College has taught over a million people how to ski.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO NORTH CAROLINA
- YOUR NORTH CAROLINA VACATION
- SKI RESORTS: Deets On The 6 Best North Carolina Ski Resorts
- BEECH MOUNTAIN: Beech Mountain NC: 4 Absurdly Cool Ways to Frolic in the Snow
- RESTAURANTS: Most Loved Beech Mountain Restaurants ( + Our Picks)
- THE BILTMORE: Biltmore: 27 Reasons Families Adore This Relaxing Asheville Resort
WHERE TO STAY IN BEECH MOUNTAIN, NC
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