When winter descends on Maggie Valley, NC, don’t let a little snow and colder temperatures keep you from visiting this little slice of heaven on Earth.
Many visitors make their way to this Great Smoky Mountain area town regardless of weather and winter always adds its own bit of magic for visitors.
No matter the season, visitors always have a blast in Western North Carolina!
Even during the off-season winter months, there’s no shortage of things to do in Maggie Valley, so come on and spend a day, a weekend, or even a week or more.
During the winter, some businesses and attractions may be closed, but plenty of others will remain open with off-season hours and some will operate under their normal schedule.
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But don’t worry, there are many reasons why you should consider visiting Maggie Valley during the winter months. Here are just a few of them:
- Lower lodging rates – Many hotels and motels remain open and even offer reduced rates. Laurel Park Inn is locally owned and is one of my favorite motels. Ask the owner about her membership in the 900 Mile Club!
- Reduced traffic and fewer people – No traffic jams, unless the elk decide to walk across the road!
- Snow – Many people want to see snow! While snow usually doesn’t last very long in Maggie Valley, chances are good that at least a few flakes will fall if you visit during the winter months.
If you wonder what activities you can do if you visit Maggie Valley during the winter, here are 10 things to try:
New to Maggie Valley this winter, ice skating will be available for a limited time in February! Strap on your skates and show off your best triple axel, or if you’re like me, just make it around the rink while remaining upright!
The rink will be located at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds and will feature a synthetic surface which allows skaters to glide across it using specialized skates.
Since the ice surface is artificial, there’s no need for freezing cold temperatures. Maggie Valley residents and visitors will be able to try out their skating skills even if the weather is warm.
Check out the skating rink from February 8th – 17th. Monday – Friday from 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Skate rental is $5 for children under 12 and $8 for ages 13 and up.
A favorite pastime for me and my two hiking dogs, is to head out on some local trails. Maggie Valley and the surrounding Smoky Mountains are full of hiking trail options and winter provides for some excellent hiking opportunities.
While winter hiking isn’t for everyone, it offers some nice benefits such as no mosquitos, and no snakes or other critters which are most likely hibernating. On top of that, the mountain views are not blocked by summer’s leaf foliage.
Be mindful that due to ice and snow, some trails may be slippery and dangerous. Be sure to understand trail conditions and check the weather before heading out. Bring the appropriate gear to stay warm and dry at all times.
Grab your backpack and head off towards Soco Falls, a beautiful double waterfall located between the towns of Maggie Valley and Cherokee.
The falls are a true hidden gem that many people miss, so if you go, keep a keen eye out for the tiny pull off / parking area along US 19 South. Cross under the Blue Ridge Parkway (Soco Gap, milepost 455.7) and travel 1.5 miles to a marked pull-off area on the left-hand side of the road.
As with hiking trails, visiting waterfalls during the winter requires the use of extra caution:
- Trails to waterfalls and surrounding areas can be slick and dangerous. I highly recommend using Katoolha Micro Spikes or other traction control devices to help avoid falling on slippery surfaces.
- Always stay on the trail and on marked observations decks, if available.
Hit the Slopes
Did you know that Maggie Valley has one of six premier ski resorts in the Blue Ridge Mountains? Enjoy a ski holiday on the exciting Cataloochee slopes! The Ski Area features winding trails and a friendly, helpful atmosphere.
Cataloochee has 100% snowmaking coverage of their slopes that include eighteen skiing and snowboarding slopes and trails that are 44% beginner, 39% intermediate, and 17% advanced to expert.
Ski and snowboard lessons are available for everyone from the novice to advanced and Cataloochee has a huge line of rental equipment that is updated every year.
Another fun winter attraction hosted by Cataloochee Ski Area is Tube World, conveniently located in Maggie Valley across from Ghost Town. Tube World offers snow tubing for everyone, from mid-December to March, depending on weather conditions.
The cost for tubing is $25 per person, per session. Sessions are one hour and 45 minutes long and run every two hours.
Reservations are required so click here to purchase tickets.
If your child does not meet the minimum 42” height requirement, the Wee Bowl Snowplay Area is for children who aren’t quite tall enough to tube.
Wee Bowl is open on a limited basis as weather and snowmaking allow. Cost is $5 per session and runs on the same session times as Tube World.
More information on Tube World is available on the Cataloochee Ski Area website.
Maggie Valley has a number of other locally owned and operated businesses that are definitely worth a visit. Many remain open all year so be sure to check them out when you visit.
Each of the following businesses has earned the stamp of approval by locals and visitors alike.
Elevated Mountain Distillery
Elevated Mountain Distilling Company offers tours and tastings Monday through Saturday.
After the tour and tasting, visit the adjoining store where visitors can purchase merchandise and spirits (in limited quantities per NC state law.)
Check out Elevated Mountain Distilling’s events calendar for upcoming activities and musical events. The distillery boasts an open stage area with plenty of room to enjoy the entertainment offerings.
Slinging in the Smokies
Maggie Valley Puzzle Rooms
For unique family-friendly fun and a different sort of adventure, head to Maggie Valley Puzzle Rooms! The themed rooms feature physical adventure games where you can match wits with your teammates as you search for clues and solve puzzles.
You have two goals in the puzzle rooms– to solve the mystery and get the exit pass to leave the room before one hour is up. So fun!
Capture Special Moments
Don’t leave Maggie Valley behind without checking out the packages for a fun photo session from Backwoods Photography!
Family photos in the mountains are always special, especially if it happens to snow during your photo shoot!
Check out the Elk
Head over to Cataloochee Valley and check out the elk! Since 2001, the herd has grown to over 150 elks and counting.
Elk sightings can mainly be found in Cataloochee Valley but elk have been spotted in popular areas like Maggie Valley and Cherokee.
The best time for elk watching is in the evening during the last hour or so of daylight or the early morning right at sunrise. Watch them from the roadside only and do not approach the elk in the fields. Remember to keep your distance!
Shop Maggie Valley
Maggie Valley is well-known for its unique and fun specialty shops, including souvenir stores, boutiques, wood carvings, sweets, antiques, and much more. While some stores close for the winter, many remain open.
Check out Cabbage Rose, where you’re sure to find the perfect gift to take home to family and friends. Cabbage Rose offers a wide variety of high-quality merchandise ranging from apparel, bath and body products, home decor items, Christmas items, and many more fun and unique items.
Other local’s favorite shopping options include:
WNC Mountain Crafts & Arts: A charming mountain store chock-full of beautiful and unique gift items. Each piece is handcrafted primarily by the multi-talented mountain people from Western North Carolina and the Appalachian Mountains areas. Visit their Facebook page for information. Winter hours are Thursday – Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Crafted in Carolina: Unique locally made art and jewelry. All artisans are from North Carolina, and many are true locals from Haywood County itself. Call ahead to check for winter hours (828) 944-0004, or check out Crafted in Carolina’s Facebook page for updated information.
Eat and Drink
After playing, touring, elk watching, hiking, and enjoying all Maggie Valley has to offer, the following food establishments are recommended by local residents:
Willie Brooks BBQ: Willie Brooks is a relatively recent addition to the Maggie Valley area lineup of restaurants. From the moment they opened their doors though, the reviews have been nothing less than stellar. Visit this family-owned gem soon and sample some of the best BBQ around!
Brickhouse Burgers and Pizza: If you’re looking for authentic Italian pizza, delicious burgers and sandwiches, or even a crisp hearty salad, head to Brickhouse Burgers and Pizza! Don’t fret if you’re traveling with Fido, because there’s no need to leave him or her at the cabin or motel. Brickhouse features a dog-friendly patio area for those sunny, warm winter days.
Sippers in the Valley: Coffee, tea, and snack lovers rejoice! Visit Sippers in the Valley and enjoy a varied selection of handcrafted specialty coffee beverages, teas, and delicious food items. Visit, sit, sip and relax while enjoying the new game room featuring board games, air hockey, and fooseball. Sippers also features local art on the walls and secure Wi-Fi in the air. If you need privacy for a small meeting, the loft area offers the perfect setting. And best of all, Sippers is pet-friendly too.
Maggie Mountain Fitness is the place to go to help you stay in shape when you’re away from your regular gym schedule. Check out the weekly visitor pass that includes 24-hour access, unlimited classes and gym usage; or opt for a daily class pass that includes one class and use of the weight room facility for the day. Massage therapy sessions are also available!
The largest privately owned home in America, Biltmore Estate is located just about a 35-minute drive from Maggie Valley. The estate not only includes touring the famous home, but is also known for its extensive gardens, an award-winning winery, unique shops, two hotels, several restaurants, riding stables, and so much more.
Many visitors don’t realize that the estate property is mostly pet-friendly. Bring Fido and discover over 20 miles of trails that will take you by lagoons, ponds, and creeks on the property.
During November through January, you can delight in Biltmore house decorated for Christmas, which is simply gorgeous. Enjoy a reservation only candlelight tour in the evenings.
If you plan to visit more than once, consider getting a season pass. By purchasing your tickets in advance and online, you’ll get a discount.
As a Maggie Valley local, I can attest that this area of Western North Carolina is a real treat everywhere you look. Check out my article that details sixteen things to do in Maggie Valley and get ideas for other exciting activities that are available in the area.
If you need other ideas of fun things to do in the Western North Carolina area, click here to read about many other options that are just a short drive away.
Have you visited Maggie Valley or the surrounding area or tried any of these suggested winter activities? Let me know in a comment below and include other fun options if you know of other exciting things to do!
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