How to Snowboard and Ski Near Atlanta on a Budget
I suck at snowboarding!!! But in search of living out my Johnny Tsunami fantasy and shreddin’ the gnar, I’m dedicated to learning the craft. If you’ve ever been snowboarding/skiing you probably know it’s not cheap and if you’ve never been before let me tell you something, it’s not cheap. No fear, shreddin’ around Atlanta can be pretty affordable if you plan it outright. I’ve compiled data on three of my favorite ski resorts, where to stay, what to do, and some important tips.
Here are 3 Ski Resorts within a 4 hour drive of Atlanta:
Cataloochee Ski Area
Cataloochee Ski Area has 18 trails, 3 ski lifts, 2 moving carpet lifts and is a good choice for those just starting out because of its multitude of beginner trails. Those who are more experienced will enjoy the 740 ft vertical drop and freestyle terrain park. The strategic planning of the trails makes this a huge win in my book. In this case, the little ones have their area, those who are older but are still learning have a nice spacious area which is separate from where the intermediate-harder trails come down. This helps everything run a lot smoother and keeps the mountain uncrowded.
Alternatively, if skiing isn’t your thing there is always tubing or you can hang out in the lodge. It’s nothing too fancy yet it contains exactly what you need. There’s a ski shop for bib rentals and anything you might have forgotten. They have your standard cafeteria style grill and most importantly a bar, because after all that work you’ll need a cold one.
|WEEKEND/HOLIDAY RATE||Lift Ticket Only||Lift Ticket & Rental|
|WEEKDAY RATE||Lift Ticket Only||Lift Ticket & Rental||Lift Ticket, Rental, & Lesson|
|WEEKEND & HOLIDAY RATES||Two Day: Lift & Rental||Three Day: Lift & Rental||Two Day: Lift, Rental, & Lesson||Three Day: Lift, Rental, & Lesson|
|WEEKDAYS||Two Day: Lift & Rental||Three Day: Lift & Rental||Two Day: Lift, Rental, & Lesson||Three Day: Lift, Rental, & Lesson|
At the base of the mountain is the little quaint town of Maggie Valley. Life is a lot slower here therefore you’ll definitely get the small-town-feel. In addition, Maggie Valley is great for nature enthusiast, located next to The Great Smokey Mountains. Try hiking the historic Boogerman Trail or check out one of the three nearby waterfalls, the closest being Soco Falls. Other activities include: Golfing, miniature golfing, Elk watching, Fishing, Elevated Mountain Distillery, and their claim to fame Wheels Through Time Museum, home to a collection of rare vintage motorcycles. Moreover, the dining options are your typical American cuisine, BBQ, Italian, and my favorite breakfast joint, Joey’s Pancake House. After dinner wander into the local watering hole Legends Sports Grill for some live music. In short, there is a good amount of food options but if you’re looking for a culinary experience and a bustling nightlife I’d look elsewhere.
- Great for: History Buffs, Nature Lovers, Families, A Quiet Getaway
- Reconsider if: You’re looking for thriving nightlife or if you’re a Foodie.
- ~3 hours / 180 miles away from Atlanta
Wolf Ridge Ski Resort
Ready to ride the Wolf? Tucked away in the Wolf Laurel Community is Wolf Ridge Ski Resort with a total of 14 trails, 2 ski lifts with mid unloads, and 2 magic carpet lifts. A good place for beginners, yet even better for those looking to better their skills. The rustic lodge is spacious with 2 huge, cozy fireplaces. It includes a gift shop, a cafeteria style grill, but sadly no bar. (Read on to find my savvy, budget friendly work around) The community of Wolf Laurel is a convenient stay, however with Ashville less than 30 mins south I recommend staying between the two places in order to enjoy the mountain city.
|INDIVIDUAL RATES Day Area Pass (Lift Ticket) 9am – 4:30pm||ADULT Age 18 – 64 Senior Citizens 65 & over FREE||STUDENT Age 5 – 18 and College students with valid ID||Ski Rentals||Snowboard Rentals|
|Consecutive Day Pass||ADULT Age 18 – 64 Senior Citizens 65 & over FREE||STUDENT Age 5 – 18 and College students with valid ID||Ski Rentals||Snowboard Rentals|
|2 Weekday Area Pass (first night session included FREE*||$84||$66||$44||$60|
|2 Weekend/Holiday Area Pass (first night session included FREE*||$120||$86||$44||$60|
Up in the Blue Ridge Mountain sits one of my favorite cities. With a plethora of breweries, a lively farm-to-table scene, and a thriving arts district, it’s no wonder why Ashville is number three in Travel + Leisure’s The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2020. The city’s down-to-Earth vibe accompanied by it’s hip downtown and the west side’s vibrant art scene really brings out its southern charm. Ashville is known for the iconic Biltmore Estate, but at $65 per person you’re better off taking a ghost tour of the Biltmore Village instead for only $20. If that doesn’t satisfy your craving of walking around a giant property you can visit the Sierra Nevada Brewery and take a tour for free (as long as you sign up)!
- Great for: Foodies, Nightlife, Art Lovers
- Reconsider if: Breweries and hipsters aren’t your thing
- ~3 hours 45 mins/ 236 miles away from Atlanta
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If there’s ever been a great example of #oberviews this is it! This gorgeous shot from this weekend makes us so proud. We love our mountain in the heart of the Smokies. . . . #obergatlinburg #skiober #thankasnowmaker #tennesseesnow #snowmaking #snowyview #snow #⛷ #🏂 #❄️ #winterwonderland #rideober
Part ski resort and part amusement park, Ober Gatlinburg is the biggest when it comes to the lodge and amenities. There are 10 slopes, 3 lifts, and one magic carpet lift. There are only 2 easy trails and many intermediate trails so it is good for those who learn fast. They also have a terrain park for those looking to show off their skills. Fortunately, what Ober lacks in trails they make up in amenities with the multitude of shops, restaurants, and activities. Not only is there tubing, like all the previous resorts, but there is also ice skating, a scenic aerial tram, mountain coasters, wildlife encounters, and much more!
|Full Session Lift Tickets||Monday – Friday||Saturday & Sunday/Holidays||Ski Rentals||Snowboard Rentals|
|Juniors & Seniors||$30||$55||$25||$30|
|Lift Tickets for 2 Consecutive Days||2 Weekdays||1 Weekday & 1 Weekend||2 Weekends|
|Juniors & Seniors||$50||$75||$100|
Ah Gatlinburg, or as I like to call it Tennessee’s Disney World. In this mountain resort town you can let your inner child run wild. There’s no shortage of things to do or see in this walk-able town. Try riding the Space Needle, going to Dollywood, or put some hair on your chest by trying some Ole Smoky Moonshine. Not to mention, Gatlinburg is home to my favorite tourist trap franchise Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Check out all eight for some good, cheesy fun and after hit up Fannie Farkel’s for their legendary Ogle dog. No need for directions, your nose will lead the way.
- Great for: Families, Groups with people who aren’t skiing
- Reconsider if: You don’t like to walk, Resort towns aren’t your thing
- ~4 hours/ 257 miles away from Atlanta
Where To Stay:
Whenever I travel I enjoy immersing myself in a city and trying to live life as a local. Using Airbnb allows me to feel at home where ever I travel. You’ll also be surprised at the hidden gems you’ll discover when you venture beyond the tourist zone.
- Save money by packing a lunch and snacks so you’re able to splurge on dinner. Here’s one of my favorite sandwich recipes. Don’t forget to pack your drink of choice for après ski. (Literally means after ski, figuratively means after ski drinks.)
- You need insulated pants, also known as a bib, and a helmet. Every ski resort rents them out. Bibs are typically $10-15 per day and helmets are $5-10 per day. If you’re going to be skiing for more than a day then think about investing in a bib and/or a helmet.
- I recently bought both the male and female Arctix bibs. It did a wonderful job in keeping me warm and dry. Unfortunately, one of the straps broke on both of the bibs. However, I still recommend this product because it’s one of the cheapest you’ll find. Just make sure to keep the straps loose or reinforcing the stitching.
- A helmet is a helmet. If you have one at home, use it. Just make sure to keep your ears warm!
- Don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen for your face! Higher altitude = closer to the sun= you will burn easier!
- Always check online for deals! Groupon is my go-to when looking for activities to do in a new city. You can get a couples massage for as low as $100.
Hopefully, this information is useful in planning your next ski trip. I hope my perspective on each ski resort and their corresponding city will lead you in making the best decision for your vacation. Where it’s at Cataloochee, Wolf Ridge, or Ober, I’ll see you on top of the mountain.