Located 70 miles northwest of Asheville on the edge of Grandfather Mountain State Park in the heart of Pisgah National Forest, Sugar Mountain Resort is one of the region’s top destinations for winter sports and recreation. Perched at 5,300 feet along the Blue Ridge Mountains, the resort has 125 acres of skiable terrain, with 21 separate slopes for all levels of skiing, snowboarding, and tubing.
The resort’s winter season varies annually, but generally runs from Thanksgiving until the end of March. Entrance passes are available for half and full days as well as twilight and evening hours, and rates start at $25 for children ages 5 to 11 and $30 for adults ages 12 and up. While you can bring your own gear, equipment rentals are available. There’s also an on-site shop at the Base Lodge, which sells a variety of skiing and snowboarding apparel, accessories, equipment, and gifts.
Things to See and Do
Featuring 125 acres of skiable terrain, Sugar Mountain’s 21 slopes are served by eight chair lifts and range from beginner to expert in level, with 40 percent of the slopes being beginner-friendly. The longest run is 1.5 miles, and 15 slopes are lit for night skiing and snowboarding.
Located on the resort’s golf course, the tubing park has several 700-foot-long tubing lanes serviced by a moving conveyor lift. Tickets must be purchased separately for the sessions, which are 1 hour, 45 minutes long and run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; the last session starts at 8 p.m.
Sugar Mountain has a 10,000-square-foot outdoor skating rink, located next to parking lot D and the tubing park. Ticket prices are $19 for weekday sessions and $26 for weekends and holidays for ages 5 and up, and include skate rentals (available in youth size 7 to adult size 14). Sessions last 90 minutes and are available at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m. Children must be at least 3 years old to skate, and children under 4 skate for free when accompanied by a ticketed adult.
The resort offers guided children’s and adult snowshoeing tours of the property on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 3 p.m., with additional tours on Saturdays at 9 a.m. Tours are an hour long, include snowshoe rental, and can be scheduled at least 15 minutes in advance of tour time at the Ski and Snowboard School building.
Snow Sports School
Total novice at snow sports or just want to improve your skills? Enroll in a private or group skiing or snowboarding class, which are available for all levels, ages 8 and up.
From Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend, you can enjoy mountain biking on 7 miles of trails ranging from beginner-friendly to expert terrain. The resort also offers guided mountain biking tours and lessons. While the trails are free and open to the public, they can only be accessed via chair lift. One-time ride fees start at $15 for all ages, while day passes start at $30 for juniors (11 and under) and $40 for adults (12 and older).
Scenic Lift Rides and Special Events
In the summer, the resort offers scenic summer lift rides between the 4th of July weekend through Labor Day weekend; fees are $15 for a single ride for all ages. Other special events include an Independence Day fireworks display, an Octokberfest celebration, and a winter concert series.
Where to Stay
The village of Sugar Mountain and nearby areas such as Banner Elk, Blowing Rock, and Boone offer several options for accommodations.
For a traditional hotel, opt to stay in Boone, which is about 16 miles and 30 minutes northeast of Sugar Mountain. The small college town has major hotel chains like Hampton Inn, Country Inn & Suites by Raddison, and Courtyard by Marriott as well as shopping, dining, and other amenities.
To stay closer to the resort, Sugar Mountain Vacation Rentals offers a variety of cabins, condos, and other private rentals ranging from one-bedroom apartments to larger homes suitable for groups of 10 or more.
For a luxury experience, try the Chetola Resort Lodge in Blowing Rock. Located 17 miles and 35 minutes east of Sugar Mountain, the 78-acre resort has a private inn, one- to four-bedroom condos, a restaurant, and a spa—all within walking distance of the Blowing Rock Village.
On a budget? There are several public campgrounds nearby, including Linville Gorge Wilderness Area and Grandfather Mountain State Park.
How to Get There
Sugar Mountain is located in the city of Banner Elk in the northeastern part of the state.
From Asheville, take I-240 E, 1-40E, and US-70 E to NC-80 N in Marion. Then take Toms Creek Road to US-221 N. Continue for 18 miles to NC-183 S to Pineola, then follow US-221 N to NC-105 N in Linville. Merge onto NC-184 N to Briarcliff Road in Sugar Mountain. The drive from Asheville is 73 miles and takes approximately 90 minutes.
From Charlotte, the drive is 116 miles and takes approximately 2 hours, 15 minutes. Take I-227 N to I-85 S, US-321 N, and I-40 W to NC-18 N/S Sterling Street in Morganton. Then take exit 105 from 1-40 W to NC-181 N, US-221 N, and NC-105 N to Briarcliff Road in Sugar Mountain.
From Raleigh, the trip is 204 miles and just over three hours. Follow I-40 W and US-421 N to US-221S in Boone, then take NC-105 S to Briarcliff Road in Sugar Mountain.
Tips for Visitors
Consider purchasing a seasonal pass, which start at $618 for one person and can be upgraded to include tubing and ice skating passes as well.
Reserve tickets in advance for popular activities like ice skating and tubing, as only a limited number of spots are available for each session.
Traveling with small children? The resort has on-site day and evening care, offered seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Sugar Mountain Drop-Off Child Care Center. The rate is $20 per hour; children must be at least 6 months old, and all infants under 12 months old require a reservation. The facility is cash only and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
While the on-site lodge offers snacks and beverages like hot chocolate, visitors must travel into the nearby village of Banner Elk for a full-service restaurant. Try Stonewalls Restaurant for steak and seafood or Bella’s Breakfast for country classics and hearty deli sandwiches.