Largest vertical drop in North Carolina
On the east coast
I hadn't been to North Carolina since I was a kid so I wanted to go check it out. We wanted to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway but it was closed, so we drove some other roads and decided to ski a day. We knew this wasn't going to be the Rockies, but any skiing is better than nothing. Sugar seemed to be the best option for skiing in North Carolina, but we were fairly skeptical after reading some of the reivews. After skiing there, I was pleasantly surprised.
Apparently there are a few people that had some bad experiences (one I think was from 20 years ago, give me a break) or work for competing ski resorts that wrote bad reviews, but from my experience, Sugar was great, much better than we anticipated. We skied on MLK Jr. day and the lift lines were almost non-existent. We did not meet one staff member that was not friendly other than the young guy at the ticket counter that didn't smile, but he certainly was not rude. The lodge was nice with lockers that you could lock your skis up during lunch that I think rented for about $4 a day.
As far as the skiing goes, it wasn't bad considering this is North Carolina. The 1200 ft. vertical was nice and although there were not a lot of runs, it was fine for us since we were just skiing for a day. 2010 was a great snow year so the snow was good, although it did get pretty warm during the day so the snow started to get slushy. The best way to do Sugar in my opinion is ski from 12:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. We only payed $37 a piece for lift tickets and we got in a full day of skiing, although half was after dark. The slopes are well lit and we enjoyed our first night skiing experience. They close the slopes for grooming for 1.5 hours between the day and night skiing but that was great for us as we got a nice break that did not eat into our skiing time. We were able to take the bus back to our vehicle, go eat, then move our vehicle closer to the lodge and have time to get back for the night skiing at 6 p.m. The Banner Elk lights were very nice from the top of the ski lift. The ski lifts were slow, but very rarely did they ever stop and the time from bottom to top was acceptable. I don't think any of the other resorts around have high speed lifts either.
Overall I would recommend this ski resort. It's certainly no Colorado or Utah ski resort, but what do you expect from North Carolina? This is a great place for those on the east coast that don't want to spend a lot of money to ski. We didn't ski anywhere else in North Carolina although we did go by and look at Beech, but I would have to say if you are skeptical from the reviews, don't be. Sugar is probably the best ski resort around considering the 1200 vertical which is unmatched in NC.