The High Country area, including Avery, Ashe and Watauga counties, have been well known for its scenic, idyllic mountains and the Appalachian culture. For more than 50 years now, the area is synonymous with winter sports and the ski resorts.

The big three mountain resorts are the most well known and established: Beech Mountain Resort and Sugar Mountain Resort in Avery County and Appalachian Ski Mtn. in Blowing Rock. All three of these resorts have been operating for more than a half century and have made themselves a true component to the foundation of the High Country for tourism and for local pride.

All of the resorts offer multiple slopes, equipment rentals, instruction, dining, ice skating and plenty of snowmaking to maximize the total amount of skiable days.

Combined, the three local resorts contain more than 50 total slope runs and base levels greater than 4,000 feet in elevation. There are quite a few similarities between the mountain resorts, as each one brings in plenty of visitors for all of them to have significant seasonal success and help the surrounding areas thrive during all seasons of the year. The resorts have thus helped expand the areas to include various businesses, lodging areas and attractions. Tourism for the High Country has its roots based on the winter sports operations, with an ability to keep expanding.

Each of the resorts also have unique characteristics that make them individualized. Sugar Mountain is known for its events, while Beech Mountain boasts its own brewery and lodge, and Appalachian Ski Mtn. is renowned for its snowmaking technologies. The rich history and the esteemed quality of the three mountain resorts are part of the reason why they have become so established in Appalachia.

Equipment rentals for winter sports are available at each of the resorts, including both skiing, snowboarding and clothing rental. All rental prices are subject to the part of the season, time of day and specifics of equipment. Resorts guarantee the quality of the rentals for use and provide a great way for individuals or groups to use equipment easily and quickly.

Individual shops throughout the Avery and Watauga areas also carry ski and snowboard equipment for rental for single days or multiple days of use. Shops also carry winter equipment for purchase as well, both new and used goods. Shops such as these can be found in the surrounding towns by the base of the mountain like Edge of the World in Banner Elk and Recess Skate and Snow in Boone. Snow shops offer a vast allotment of other items as well like outerwear, safety equipment, streetwear and souvenir goods.

For skiers, one must make sure to have two skis, two poles, ski boots along with proper clothing like outer jacket, snow pants or bibs and gloves. Snowboarders ought to have a singular board, bindings, boots with the jacket, pants and gloves. An avid snowsport athlete may want to consider purchasing these items, while an annual snow sport visitor can enjoy the accessibility and simplicity of renting.

Weather conditions always play a factor in how to approach a day or night on the slopes. While proper clothing is always a necessity, a particularly cold or windy day may require the use of more underlayering and a winter-style hat. Night riding will certainly produce colder conditions as well, considering the absence of the sun, thus more warmth may enhance comfort.

With respect to snow conditions on the slopes, natural snow is generally drier than the artificially sourced snow, providing more a lighter or more buoyant experience. Artificially sourced snow has a high water content and is more dense,and it also lasts longer than true precipitation snow, making it more resistant to rain.

Artificial or machine snow is the production of snow by forcing water and pressurized air through a “snow gun”, also known as a “snow cannon.” All of the resorts in the area utilize machine snow throughout the season to keep the slopes well covered and plump. Because of the longevity and resistance to rain, artificial snow makes a great base for natural snow to fall to accumulate upon.

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