(Note to readers: I was hosted by Beech Mountain, NC, for this family review. As always, my opinion remains my own.)
When it comes to skiing, you need to know two things.
One is french fry. That’s a verb in this case. As in, when you french fry, you’re going to flying down the mountain. That’s a good thing to some people.
The other is pizza. That’s when you guide the front of your skis together, and the backs apart, making a wedge like a pizza slice. That’s how you stop. If you’re good at it, the skis will stop without crossing over and forcing you to tumble over them. I’ve done it both ways. Being good is the better choice of the two.
Well, on this gorgeous Sunday afternoon at Beech Mountain, North Carolina, I was willing my way down the slope, carefully coaxing my skis to keep from crossing one over the other, fully aware that I was maintaining my wedge enough to keep from ever really gaining momentum, the equivalent of driving down a hill in a car with the brake on the entire way.
I was that woman you scream at on the highway to ‘speed up or get out of the way’. Only I was on a mountaintop, scared for my life, while in the same second, experiencing the thrill of my life.
That’s what skiing is to me, and it seems, to a lot of the other people on top of Beech Mountain that day.
My kids, though, they were fearless. They had no issue flying down the mountain, oblivious to the fact that their mom was close to panic mode, fearful of a wipeout for any one of them, along with herself.
Over and over, they mounted the ski lift, only to ski their way down again.
I, on the other hand, found my way to the fireplace in a nearby restaurant, where I could sit and thaw out, or stand by the window and watch them have their fun, but from a much warmer vantage point.
Or, I could wander through the shops at the base of the mountain. We’d already made our way through the gear rental house, where we were suited up and sent on our way. So, it only made sense to do a little shopping while the kids continued skiing. There are stores that sell ski gear, others that sell souvenirs like sweatshirts or ornaments, and others that sell the best hot chocolate you’ll ever taste.
You’ll also find some bars and other restaurants, like the newly renovated Beech Tree Bar and Grille, which often has live bands performing, along with ten LED televisions and a large projector screen where you can see all NCAA and NFL games.
There’s a skating rink for those who prefer blades under their feet instead of skis or snowboards. And a brand new state of the art tubing facility with its own snow guns to make sure you have enough powder to fly down. You don’t have to buy lift tickets for either of those activities, though there is a fee for each (sessions begin every two hours at a rate of $25 weekdays and $30 weekends/holidays).
We had enough fun that we came back for a second day of play, trying snowboards this time around. We took lessons for that. Lessons are offered all day long with groups of about 6 in each class. Rates vary, but are free during certain times of the week if you rent your gear from Beech Mountain.
Our 16 year old was up within about 20 minutes, ‘digging in her toes or heels’ to control which way the board went down the mountain. We couldn’t get her off the board the rest of the day (she was convinced she could be jumping by mid-afternoon, though by that point, her tired muscles said otherwise).
Day three was warmer than the first two, so we went looking for other fun in the region and ended up at Grandfather Mountain. It took about 20 minutes to get there from where we were staying at Beech Mountain (Pinnacle Inn—there’s more on that if you click here). Grandfather Mountain was great for our entire crew, though if you have an issue with heights, you may not want to try the swinging bridge. You can read more about that here.
If you’ve been to Beech Mountain before, you’ll be happy to know they’ve installed more high-tech SMI Super PoleCat snow guns in key places on the slopes, especially on White Lightning, a black diamond run with the steepest terrain on the mountain. The 14 new SMI Super PoleCats bring the total to 61, plus dozens of smaller guns. The two main chairlifts received new electrical systems and mechanical upgrades, and an entirely new rental fleet of Burton snowboards was added.
Beech Mountain is about an hour away from Asheville, and about a 5 ½ hour drive from Atlanta. It’s the highest mountain with a ski resort on the east coast and when we went, was the only mountain with snow, the only one open for skiing. If you’re a Colorado or Utah skier, it’s a different feel in NC, a bit icier than the western states that see a whole lot more snowfall, but Beech Mountain is ideal if you don’t want to make the flight or pay the higher prices for lift tickets and the like. The city even offers a free sledding hill for children 12 and under.
My family already wants to go back, so I’d say that’s a four thumbs up for this destination.
If you want to see a bit about the fun we had, watch the video below.
[hana-code-insert name=’beech mountain’ /]