5 Best Snowboarding Resorts in the U.S.

Snowboarders in Park City, Utah. Photo courtesy Park City Mountain Resort Park City Mountain Resort
By Jacquelin Carnegie

What makes a resort great for snowboarding depends heavily on your level of expertise (novice or advanced) and personal preferences -- natural terrain or enhanced terrain parks with "jib" features such as boxes and rails. Other factors to consider in choosing a destination include travel time and après-ski activities.

Many of these resorts stay open through April, so there's still time to squeeze in a last-minute snowboarding vacation this spring.

Photo Caption: Snowboarders in Park City, Utah. Photo courtesy Park City Mountain Resort
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One of the side trails in Park City, Utah. Sabbath Photography
Some of the sport's best snowboarders train at Park City Mountain Resort (tel. 800/222-7275; www.pcmr.com) including Olympic gold medalists Shaun White, Torah Bright, and breakout star Sage Kotsenburg. (Check out the Park City All Stars: www.pcride.com)

If you're not pro status just yet, there are plenty of park features and terrains for all ability levels. This season, the resort doubled the size of its three terrain parks:

Three Kings: This park includes multiple lines with innovative features to please jump or jib fans. Night lighting has been added, giving jumpers and jibbers extra hours of fun.

The Ridge: This recent addition gives kids and adults a chance to experience new tricks or just try out different features.

King's Crown: For pros and advanced snowboarders, this park has the biggest jumps and jib features.

In addition to the terrain parks, the natural layout of Park City Mountain Resort is great for snowboarders. There are long groomers, recently-introduced Adventure Alleys, and powder terrain. In fact, you can snowboard right down into town on these runs -- Quit'n Time, Creole, Town -- and grab a brew at any number of local pubs.

Season: late November to mid-April


Photo Caption: One of the side trails in Park City, Utah. Photo by Sabbath Photography/Flickr.com
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Trail map at the Canyons, the biggest resort in Utah. Beneath_B1ue_Skies
As Utah's largest resort, the 4,000-acre Canyons (tel. 888/226-9667; www.thecanyons.com) appeals to snowboarders since its terrain is loaded with natural features to "jib and jump off," such as tree runs, gulleys (natural half pipes), bowls, and fresh powder stashes. Canyons has nine peaks, six natural half pipes, 182 trails, and a new terrain park.

Transitions: This brand-new terrain park is 1.1 miles long, with 10 jumps and more than 40 rails and boxes. Some cool features include: a Skull Candy pipe that riders hit as a quarter pipe; a 17-step handrail; the Container, a hip-to-wall ride; a carpeted quarter half-pipe; tons of combo boxes, and natural features such as the Rainbow Log.

The Canyons Freeride Team, such as top snowboarders Jonathon Cheever and Cooper Hoffmeister, sure get a kick out of it.

Après-Ski Scene in Park City: With its historic houses and more than 100 bars, restaurants, and cute shops, the town of Park City (www.parkcityinfo.com) is worth exploring, Visit the Kimball Art Center (www.kimballartcenter.org), stop by the High West Distillery & Saloon (www.highwest.com) and dine at 350 Main (www.350main.com).

Getting There: The ski/snowboarding resorts in and around Park City are easily-accessible from the Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), just 35 miles away. You'll be on the slopes the day you arrive.

Season: late November to mid-April

Photo Caption: Trail map at the Canyons, Utah. Photo by Beneath_B1ue_Skies/Flickr.com
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Snowboarding Breckenridge, at Peak 8. William A. Franklin
Breckenridge (tel. 800/789-7669; www.breckenridge.com) is known for its variety of terrain. With four huge peaks, it has five terrain parks and two pipes rated from beginner to expert.

Peak 9 (Eldorado): Great for those snowboarding for the first time.

Freeway: Ranked among the top terrain parks and pipes in the world. This year, a new 22-foot, Olympic-style half pipe was added.

With great teaching terrain, Breckenridge Snowboard School offers a range of group and private lessons for children and adults from beginner to seasoned expert. Also, several pros call Breck home-away-from-home. (Check out the Breckenridge Freeride Team of world-renowned snowboarders: www.breck1080.com)

Après-Ski Scene in Breckenridge: To learn more about the largest historic district in Colorado, go on a guided tour with the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance (www.breckheritage.com). Do some shopping on Main Street with over 200 boutiques and galleries. Then, dine at historic restaurants such as The Gold Pan Saloon (www.thegoldpansaloon.com).

Season: mid-November to late April

Photo Caption: Snowboarding at Breckenridge. Photo by William A. Franklin/Flickr.com.
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Snowboarding at Golden Peak Terrain Park, Vail. Photo by Dave Lehl, Vail Resorts Dave Lehl, Vail Resorts
For snowboarders, Vail (tel. 800/805-2457; www.vail.com) has three terrain parks:

Golden Peak: This park has more than 30 features, about a dozen jumps, and a 500-foot-long, 18-foot-high Superpipe, a 13-foot mini pipe and a 13-foot quarter pipe with a wall ride set in the middle.

Bwana: There are more than 20 features, including three handmade log slides and two small jumps.

Pride: Catering to beginners, this park has four user-friendly features.

Après-Ski Scene in Vail Village: This enchanting village (www.visitvailvalley.com) has a variety of lodges, galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. It's one of four access points to the mountain from the Vista Bahn and Riva Bahn chair lifts. Hit the slopes, then take a horse-drawn sleigh ride and do some serious shopping in this beautiful locale.

Getting There: To reach Breckenridge and/or Vail, fly into Denver International Airport (DEN) or Eagle Airport (EGE).

Season: mid-November to late April

Photo Caption: Snowboarding at Golden Peak Terrain Park, Vail. Photo by Dave Lehl/Vail Resorts
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Snowboarding Mammoth Mountain, California. KayOne73
If you feel like snowboarding on the Fourth of July, this is your spot. A long season and lots of sunshine are what make Mammoth Mountain (tel. 800/626-6684; www.mammothmountain.com) special. The highest ski resort in California (11,053 ft.) draws snowboarders with a variety of terrain: alpine bowls, above tree-line runs, endless groomers, and great terrain parks.

With over 3,500 skiable acres, snowboarders at all levels will find terrain to their liking. Mammoth also has the largest ski school in California, so first timers as well as experienced rippers can come here and learn something.

Après-Ski Scene in Mammoth: To give you an idea how beautiful this area is, Mammoth Lakes is located in the Inyo National Forest of Mono County. The town is surrounded by the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness Areas. In The Village at Mammoth (www.villageatmammoth.com), there is a nice array of bars, restaurants, and shops. The gondola to the slopes runs in and out of the Village during the ski season.

Getting There: Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH) is just 10 minutes from the Town of Mammoth Lakes. MMH has daily, seasonal air service from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose.

Season: early November to June or July

Photo Caption: Snowboarding Mammoth Mountain, California. Photo by KayOne73/Flickr.com
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