Whether you’re really good at catching air on the halfpipe, sailing through the backcountry, or wiping out as soon as you hop off the ski lifts, grab your boots (or rent some) and check out these epic resorts. It’s taken years for snowboarders to gain respect and a legit spot alongside skiers and now that their sport's worthy enough for the Olympics, many mountains cater to the skateboarders and surfers of the snow, who dare to hit the powder with just one board instead of two sturdy skis.
Maybe you’re a new and fresh boarder in search of some new and fresh snow to practice on, or maybe you’re working on your back flip. Whatever the case, the 10 best snowboarding spots promise 10 unique experiences.
Freeriding could very well turn into freefalling here. You’re wise to make friends with the butterflies in your stomach when you snowboard in Mammoth Mountain, which is all about the vertical drops. After all, it is California’s tallest ski resort, with a summit of 11,053 feet.
While the West has the monopoly on great snowboarding terrain, New England doesn’t skimp on it entirely. The high peaks of Maine’s Sugarloaf Ski Resort are sure to give snowboarders a natural high and the laid-back, crowd-free town makes the after-hours scene hard to pass up.
3,500 acres of narrow chutes, well-groomed trails, easygoing cruisers, and every other kind of terrain imagineable await skiers and snowboarders of all levels in Montana. Even though hundreds of thousands of people come to Big Sky every year, you'll have plenty of personal space because there are so many paths to take. Chances are you'll have at least an acre to yourself! That means you can perfect the art of the inverted 180 (or fall down on your face multiple times in a row) in peace and privacy. Everyone sees the 11,166-foot Lone Peak when they arrive in Big Sky, but only a brave few will venture to the top of it – and only a brave, experienced few should!
Many pros compete to the bitter end on the halfpipes at Squaw Valley in California, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, and you can get a taste of the resort’s extreme roots, too, without waiting in line for a long time and without waiting for winter to come (in fact, the resort enjoys 300 days of sunshine). The non-daredevils of the group can take advantage of the resort's lesser-known, mellower side and also chill out in a Squaw Valley condo rental.
Where: Lake Tahoe
Dodge trees and master your turns in the scenic backcountry of Tahoe City – and then turn in for the night in a Lake Tahoe rental. If you’ve got good control of your board, Alpine Meadows will delight but if you’re still learning, better move on to a more well-rounded resort.
It might just be North America’s best offering and it’s certainly a favorite of boarders (both freestylers and carvers included). The Whistler and Blackcomb mountains were once separate resorts but eventually combined powers to produce a world-class, intricate playground for riders of all levels, as well as an enviable après-ski nightlife.
From intimidating drops to steep, narrow runs, Kirkwood is a snowboarder’s heaven. Amateurs aren’t destined to become black and blue on a bunch of black and blue runs, though, as plenty of beginner and intermediate terrain will ease them into things. But if you do end up bruised, you can always nurse your wounds in a comfy California rental.
Not many rides are smoother and gnarlier than the ones offered up by Utah’s highest and mightiest resort. The Zuagg, also known as the “Pipe Monster,” is enough to make any skilled boarder giddy.
You may expect to do some quality snow shredding in Stowe, but you’re more likely to slip and slide. As far as eastern ski resorts go, Vermont’s boasts some of the iciest and most tightly-packed powder around, which present a rare challenge for expert boarders. You’ll need a cozy Stowe cabin rental to retreat to after a long and tiring day on this monster of a mountain.
Even though this rugged Colorado resort is naturally favorable for skiers and boarders alike, it’s been criticized for poor service and grooming. New owners, though, are in the process of giving it a well-deserved face lift and that means snowboarders can now tap into the Butte’s full potential. The mountain’s intermediate-friendly runs range from super steep to flat.