Even though Florida, the third most populous state of the US, with its sunny beaches and palm trees, isn’t the ideal place for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding – don’t let the subtropical and tropical weather discourage you.
There are a number of good ski areas and resorts just a few hours drive up north.
More surprisingly, some of these ski resorts open for skiing as early as late October, and all of them have a season that lasts, on average, roughly 130 days. There are more than four months to satisfy your ski itch!
In this guide, you will get to know the closest ski resorts to Florida, how to reach them, and a brief overview about them so you can make a decision about which resort should be your ski destination.
Also read our guide on the closest ski resorts to dallas.
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Wolf Ridge Ski Resort
Located in Mars Hill, North Carolina, at an elevation of 4700 feet with a vertical drop of 700 feet, Wolf Ridge is a family-friendly ski resort catering to skiers of all skill levels.
The resort is within approximately 7, 8, 9, and 12-hour drive away from Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Orlando, and Miami respectively.
Wolf Ridge has 15 ski runs altogether, the longest being 1800 feet. Out of these trails, 27% are rated as beginner friendly, 60% intermediate, and 13% as advanced runs.
Moreover, the resort is equipped with a snow machine, and there are lighted runs, allowing for nighttime skiing.
The resort does not usually get crowded, so you are likely to have a great time skiing there.
There are skis and snowboards for rent, and there is good cafeteria food and vending machines for beverages.
Those who visit Wolf Ridge ski resort often speak highly of the friendly staff there, but many consider that the lift system there could use some improvement.
Cataloochee Ski Area
Cataloochee ski area is located at an elevation of 5400 feet in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, with a vertical drop of 740 feet.
You can reach it by driving from Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Orlando, or Miami, for approximately 7, 7 ½, 9, and 12 ½ hours respectively.
It has 17 ski runs, with 44% of the trails being rated as beginner, 39% as intermediate, and 17% of it are advanced runs, with the longest run being 3500 feet.
Cataloochee also has 3 chair lifts and two conveyor lifts for you to ride uphill. Plus, they are equipped with a snow-making machine and there are lighted trails for nighttime skiing.
However it tends to be crowded at peak times, so it’s a good idea to buy your lift tickets online.
The user reviews of Cataloochee are also great and have generally positive feedback about the runs and staff.
Appalachian Ski Mountain
Appalachian Ski Mountain is located at Blowing Rock, North Carolina, at an elevation of 4000 feet with a vertical drop of 365 feet.
You can drive there from Jacksonville within around 7 hours, Tallahassee around 9 hours, Orlando around 9 ½ hours, and Miami around 12 ½ hours.
This family-friendly ski resort is especially good for beginners, and It has 12 runs altogether – the longest being 2640 feet and 3 terrain parks.
Also read our guide on best family ski resorts in the US
Like the other resorts, Appalachian also has snowmaking machines and lighted slopes for nighttime skiing.
Plus, you can rent your gear there, and there are camping spots by the parking lot, a good selection of food and drinks, and even an ice skating rink!
Looking at the reviews, people always talk appreciatively about the ski instructors and other staff there.
Sugar Mountain is another good ski resort within convenient proximity to Florida.
Located at an elevation of 5300 feet with a vertical drop of 1200 feet at Sugar Mountain, North Carolina, it has 21 trails, and the longest run is 7920 feet.
You can drive there from Jacksonville within around 8 hours, and it will take around 9 hours to drive from Tallahassee, 10 hours from Orlando, and 13 hours from Miami.
Sugar Mountain doesn’t offer online tickets or gear renting though, and it can get pretty crowded on weekends. So, it will be a good idea to go there on a weekday which is not a holiday.
Review wise, people talk highly of the resort’s staff, well-stocked cafeteria, rental gear, and runs.
Beech Mountain Ski Resort, at Beech Mountain, North Carolina is at an elevation of 4675 feet and has a vertical drop of 830 feet.
It will take about 8 hours to drive there from Jacksonville, 9 ½ hours from Tallahassee, 10 hours from Orlando, and thirteen hours from Miami.
It has 15 ski runs and the longest run is 5280 feet. 70% of it are beginner and intermediate runs while the other 30% is for expert skiers. Plus, the lighted runs make it possible to ski at night.
However, the customer reviews of Beech Mountain have been more on the negative side lately though.
People have commented about poor overall management, overcrowding, mostly due to ticket sales without considering the capacity of the resort, and poor customer care from the staff.
Snowshoe Mountain is a big ski resort located in between the two highest mountain peaks of West Virginia, Cheat and Back Allegheny. It is at an elevation of 3348 feet, with a vertical drop of 1500 feet.
It will take about 11 hours to drive there from Jacksonville, 13 hours from Tallahassee and Orlando, and 16 hours from Miami.
It has a total skiable area of 244 acres, consisting of 60 ski runs, and the longest run is 1.5 miles. 40% of the trails are beginners runs, 33%. intermediate runs and the other 27% are advanced runs. You can do night-time skiing on 12 lighted runs.
The area gets an average of 15 feet of snow every season, much of it light and fluffy due to its high altitude. It gets even better with the good snowmaking system the resort has.
There are 14 chair lifts in Snowshoe Mountain, capable of carrying a little over 23000 skiers per hour.
This is the biggest closest ski resort to Florida. The food and lodging here is great too.
Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort
This is a ski resort with breathtaking views, located at an elevation of 2700 feet with a vertical drop of 600 feet, at Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
You can drive to Ober from Jacksonville and Tallahassee within a little over 8 hours, 10 hours from Orlando, and 13 hours from Miami.
The resort has 10 ski trails (75% beginner / intermediate, 25% advanced), and all of them are lit for nighttime skiing. Plus, there are ski lessons available for people of all skill levels at Gatlinburg Snow Sports.
Ober Gatlinburg has 4 lifts in operation – 2 Quad Chairs, a Surface lift and a Double Chairs lift, capable of carrying 6000 people per hour. Read how ski lifts work here.
In addition to skiing, the resort offers snow tubing, ice skating, and a coaster ride with amazing views.
If we look at the reviews, people have generally spoken highly of the resort’s infrastructure, management, staff, and equipment renting too.
Even though Florida itself does not have ski resorts due to its subtropical and tropical climate, there are many good ski resorts within an 8-13 hour drive from Florida’s major cities, which offers a good skiing experience.
Most of these ski resorts are located in North Carolina, namely Wolf Ridge Resort, Cataloochee Resort, Appalachian Mountain, Beach Mountain, and Sugar Mountain, and there is Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia and Ober Gatlinburg in Tennessee.