Fifty years on top. That’s the slogan this winter for North Carolina’s Beech Mountain as it celebrates a half century as the highest ski destination east of the Rockies.
From its beginnings in winter of 1967-68 to current times, Beech Mountain has been a visionary Southern ski area. It debuted as the only ski resort in North Carolina with an alpine village at its base and remains that way today. It was also the first ski area in the Southeast to install a high-speed detachable quad and the first in North Carolina’s High Country to allow snowboarding.
That vision extended to the mountaintop in 2013 when Beech Mountain Resort installed a glass roundhouse bar at the summit. Named 5506’ Skybar in honor of the mountain’s more-than-mile-high elevation, it provides a social spot with sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains along with heated restrooms and a deck with Adirondack chairs.
Two winters ago, a snowtubing park was added adjacent to the ice-skating rink in the resort’s Alpine Village. The state-of-the-art tubing park provides long, 700-foot chutes with a Magic Carpet lift that whisks riders back to the top in short order. The park has a music system and lights for night tubing.
Last year, the terrain park was relocated and expanded. Now snowboarders and freestyle skiers have a larger playground with rotating features, a surface tow lift, and their own dedicated snowmaking system. Another advantage of relocating the terrain park is it opened up more terrain for skiers in the heart of the resort.
As snowmaking technology continues to progress, Beech Mountain has added to its arsenal of snow guns with 65 high-tech SMI Super PoleCats in the last six years. These fully-automated guns have pushed the snowmaking capacity far beyond anything in the 50-year history of the resort.
Of course, Mother Nature does her part, too. Beech Mountain’s high-altitude setting averages more than 84 inches of natural snow each winter.
The natural and man-made snow combine to cover nearly 100 acres of skiable terrain, punctuated by 17 trails and serviced by nine lifts, including the venerable high-speed quad that was installed in 1987 and renovated last winter.
Like most Southeastern ski resorts, Beech Mountain maintains a top-notch ski school with group and individual lessons for toddlers, youths, and adults. The rental fleet was replenished in the last two years with new Rossignol skis and Burton snowboards. There’s also a clothing-rental program for those who hail from warmer climes and prefer to rent ski pants, parkas, and bibs instead of purchasing them. The rental program is also great for families with multiple kids and those who like to travel light.
In conjunction with the 50th anniversary, 1967 lift-ticket pricing will be in effect on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights throughout the winter. Tuesday night is ladies’ night with female lift tickets for the night session reduced to $9, which was the rate on opening day 50 years ago. Wednesday night is men’s night with $9 lift tickets for guys, and Thursday couples’ night features a first ticket for $14 and a second ticket for just $8.
The resort has also set aside January 20-28, 2018 for a special 50th anniversary celebration that will include festivities, bands, contests, fireworks, and more.
New this winter is a streamlined check-in process in which customers purchase a lift ticket and rental equipment at the same place, go straight through the fitting process, and are ready to hit the slopes in less time. Another new feature is the ability to buy multi-day tickets and multi-day rentals to avoid repeating the same process each day.
For après ski, the resort is located in the town of Beech Mountain, which offers lodging, restaurants, and nightlife within walking distances or a short drive of the slopes. Lodging options range from ski-in chalets and condos to traditional ski lodges and inns to larger, upscale vacation homes. Two popular packages are the midweek Ski-and-Stay Package, providing two nights of lodging and a lift ticket for just $119 per person, and the Entourage Package, which accommodates groups of six to eight for two nights anytime of the week for $450.
There’s also a 50th anniversary $50 Lodging Special throughout this winter where you can choose from nearly ten different lodging properties.
There is an ample supply of dining options and nightlife. The 20-foot outdoor fire bar at Mile High Tavern is a popular gathering spot with the tavern serving up one of the region’s largest selections of North Carolina craft beers.
Or, head over to Alpine Village at the ski resort for a nightcap at Beech Mountain Brewing Company. Beech Mountain added the craft brewery in 2014, making it one of the few resorts in the U.S. to have its own brewery and continuing Beech Mountain’s vision as a leader among ski destinations on the East Coast.
For Beech Mountain vacation-planning details, call 1-800-468-5506 or visit www.BeechMtn.com.