I live in Atlanta and am not affiliated in any way with Cataloochee Ski area. First of all and last of all, this is North Carolina. So anyone telling you to save your money and go out west is telling you how sweet the apples are while you’re pealing an orange. For what it is, Cataloochee isn’t bad… with one very important caveat that applies to all NC ski areas. DO NO GO on weekends or holidays. North Carolina is an affluent state with wealthy, soccer-mom packed Charlotte just a few hours away. So you have to expect massive crowds on weekends and holidays as the rich folks pack up the kids and bring them to LEARN TO SKI here before they pay real money and head out west.
OK, the mountain itself. Yes, it’s small and the lifts are slow. But it (mostly) has the two things you need to ski: incline and snow – albeit man-made in most cases. If you want to slide down a hill in NC, Cataloochee is a pretty darn good option. As for rates, it stings to think that you’re paying ¾ of what you would a Vail while getting .000001 of the skiing. But for NC, the rates are good – less than Sugar and Beech. As with all NC hills, if you go on the weekdays when the rates are lower and the crowds are much less, it’s actually quite fun. You should expect local kids on snowboards, but with lighter crowds, there’s ample room for them and you. The lifts are slow, but if you can ski right into the chair, it isn’t so bad. And always CHECK THEIR WEBSITE to see how much terrain is open. Cataloochee is good about being honest with their ski report and generally won’t open terrain until there’s good coverage (mmmrrumhBEECH-MT!). And if you’re from Atlanta, Cataloochee is by far the best option for a day trip. With good traffic and light construction, you can be there in just over 3 hours.