The 5 Southernmost Ski Resorts in the United States

Introduction:

There are thousands of ski resorts around the world and in some pretty weird places. Did you know you can go skiing in israel? Morocco also has world-class skiing at Oukaimeden. Seems like as long as there are cold winter temperatures, heavy snow and a hill, people will ski on it. Many places you wouldn’t guess meet these criteria. Generally in the northern hemisphere, the further north you are and the higher in elevation you go, the more annual snowfall you will have. But there are plenty of spots where you can score powder that stretch quite far south.

In the United States, you can go skiing in states like Arizona, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Tennessee. These states benefit from the southern Rockies and Appalachia. Their elevation and terrain provide enough snowfall and wilderness to build top-notch ski resorts. So today we’re breaking down some of these most unexpected places for ski resorts in America and analyzing the 5 most southerly.

Latitude: 34.23, Longitude: -116.86
Evening sun on Bear Mountain. Credit: Big Bear Mountain Resort Facebook.

Bear Mountain Resort and Snow Summit are the two main ski resorts that are part of Big Bear Mountain Resorts in the San Bernardino National Forest. Both are at relatively the same latitude position, but Bear Mountain is very slightly (less than 1,000 feet) farther south, making it the fifth southernmost resort town in the United States. The resort consists of three peaks: Bear Peak, Silver Mountain and Goldmine Mountain. The resort receives only about 100 inches of snow per year. The lack of natural snowfall means Bear Mountain relies heavily on artificial snow to cover its 62 trails and 750 acres of skiable terrain.

About two and a half hours from Los Angeles, Bear Mountain is a popular destination, especially for freestyle skiing and snowboarding. Their terrain parks are world famous and are consistently ranked among the best terrain parks by Snowboard Transmonde. Bear Mountain is also where Olympic gold medalist Shaun White got his start. Given the proximity to Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean, Big Bear resorts are prime locations for the “California Double”, where you surf and ski/snowboard in the same day. While Bear Mountain isn’t the easiest option for the California Double, it’s one of the more popular options since Big Bear holds snow until early spring and provides more comfortable ocean temperatures.

In one look :

  • Adult day pass price: $139.

  • Child day pass price: $56.

  • Skiing times: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Night skiing available at Snow Summit)

  • Average annual snow cover: 100 inches
  • 750 skiable acres on 62 trails:

    • Easy 15%

    • Intermediate 55%

    • Difficult 30%

Early morning snowmaking in the famous Bear Mountain Terrain Park. Credit: Big Bear Mountain Resort Facebook.
Latitude: 33.97, Longitude: -109.57
Aerial view of the Three Peaks from Sunshine Park. Credit: Sunrise Park Facebook page.

At the fourth most southerly, Sunrise Park Resort in Greer, AZ consists of three mountains named Sunrise Peak, Cyclone Circle, and Apache Peak. In total, the three peaks have over 1,200 acres of skiable terrain on 65 trails and 7 lifts, making them the largest ski resort in Arizona. From summit to base there is approximately 1,800 feet of vertical descent and the area receives an average of 200 inches of snowfall per year. The seasons generally last from mid-December to mid-March. The resort is owned and operated by the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

Greer is in a remote part of Arizona, making dining and lodging options few and far between. For dinner, there are several day lodges and cafes dotted around the mountain. The resort also offers the Sunrise Park Lodge at the base of the mountain as a place to sleep. Other accommodation options can be found in the towns of Eagar and Pinetop-Lakeside, both about 30-45 minutes from the resort.

Credit: Sunrise Park Resort Facebook page.

In one look :

  • Adult day pass price: $65. (Senior discounts available)

  • Child day pass price: $44.

  • Skiing times: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Night skiing available some weekends)

  • Average annual snow cover: 200 inches
  • 1,200 skiable acres on 65 trails:

    • Easy 45%

    • Intermediate 28%

    • Difficult 27%

Latitude: 33.39, Longitude: -105.79
Views from the top of the Apache Bowl trail. Credit: Ski Apache Facebook page.

In the southeastern part of New Mexico is the third southernmost resort in the United States, Ski Apache. The resort is located in the Sierra Blanca mountain range near the town of Ruidoso, NM. Of the 3 southernmost resorts, Ski Apache is by far the largest, with 750 skiable acres on 55 trails. The trails have approximately 1,900 feet of vertical descent from the 11,500 foot summit to the base of the mountain at 9,600 feet elevation. Ski Apache has 8 lifts in total, including an 8-person gondola that takes you from the base to the top of the mountain.

The Sierra Blanca Mountains receive an average annual snowfall of 180 inches per year. The area is known to have heavy snowstorms that dump over 2 feet of snow, which adds some challenges to driving the 12-mile windy road from Ruidoso to the resort. When snow levels are low, Ski Apache has the ability to make its own snow on a number of runs. The seasons generally last between mid-December and mid-March.

For a more detailed look at Ski Apache, check out Snowbrains’ own Hometown Mountain Cry of Ski Apache.

Down facing views off the gondola. Credit: Ski Apache Facebook page.

In short :

  • Adult day pass price: $90 ($54 half day). (Military and senior discounts available)

  • Child day pass price: $70 ($52 half day)

  • Skiing times: 10.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday. (Weekend: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)

  • Average annual snow cover: 180 inches
  • 750 skiable acres on 55 trails:

    • Easy 20%

    • Intermediate 60%

    • Difficult 20%

Latitude: 32.95, Longitude-105.74

Aerial view of an intact Cloudcroft Ski. Credit: Ski Cloudcroft Facebook page.

The second southernmost ski resort in the United States is owned by Ski Cloudcroft of Cloudcroft NM. Rising to approximately 9,100 feet, Ski Cloudcroft sits along the Sacramento Mountain Range in Otero County, NM. The resort has around 74 skiable hectares, which include 25 runs of varying difficulty and 3 different lifts to take you to the top of the slopes.

The surrounding areas only average about 120 inches of snow each year, but the resort produces its own snow when rainfall is low. The seasons generally last from mid-December to mid-March. The resort offers a restaurant for dining options at the foot of the mountain and no accommodations. The nearby village of Cloudcroft, NM (about 2 miles from the resort) has several nearby dining and lodging options.

Sunset session at Ski Cloudcroft. Credit: Ski Cloudcroft Facebook page.

In one look :

  • Adult day pass price: $55 ($45 half day).
  • Child day pass price: $45 ($55 half day)
  • Skiing times: 9h00-16h00
  • Average annual snow cover: 120 inches
  • 74 skiable acres on 25 trails:
    • Easy 34%
    • Intermediate 30%
    • Difficult 36%
Latitude: 32.45, Longitude: -110.79
Credit: Mount Lemmon Ski Valley Facebook Page

Located at latitude 32.45, Mount Lemmon Ski Valley is the southernmost ski resort in the United States. The resort is located on the slopes of Mount Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains, just north of Tucson, Arizona, and about 110 miles north of the Mexican border. Mount Lemmon is part of the Coronado National Forest and has approximately 200 acres of skiable terrain on 22 trails. The seasons generally last from mid-December to mid-March.

The summit rises 9,157 feet above sea level and receives about 180 inches of snow every year. It’s a fairly ecologically diverse mountain, given the 7,000-foot elevation gain from the southern Arizona desert basin. The altitude also keeps the region cool. In the summer, when Tucson temperatures are over 105 degrees, Mount Lemmon stays at around 75 degrees.

The resort remains open year-round for hiking and sightseeing, with its SkyRide lift system to take you to the top of the Mountain. Food options and a gift shop with homemade fudge can be found at the bottom of the station.

Freshly painted powder spins on new snow at Mount Lemmon. Credit: Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley Facebook.

In short :

  • Adult day pass price: $69 ($59 half day). (Military and senior discounts available)
  • Child day pass price: $39 ($35 half day)
  • Skiing times: 10:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Mon, Thu. & Fri. (Weekend: 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.)
  • Average annual snow cover: 180 inches
  • 200 skiable acres on 22 trails:
    • Easy 29%
    • Intermediate 47%
    • Difficult 24%

Conclusion:

So there you have it, these hidden gems are the closest places to the equator you can go skiing in the United States. Most of these resorts are in the southwestern part of the country and enjoy an elevation of over 8,000 feet, but their terrain and snow quality are anything but ordinary. From popular Big Bear Lake, California to remote New Mexico, these resorts bring their own unique flavor to the ski industry and show that people across the country share the same passion for the sport.

About George Dailey

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