Resort Guide 2013-2014: Western States
Words: Ben Gavelda
Modest Mouse pegged it pretty damn well with the term and album titled The Lonesome Crowded West. The West is a desolate place, home to massive stretches of high plains, ranchlands, rocky plateaus, big basins, and burly mountains broken up by only a handful of roads and cities. When it came to defining the riding between Colorado and the Pacific states, there’s a lot of ground to cover.
There’s the undeniable hub of Salt Lake City, Utah—a thriving scene all in it’s own that almost deserves it’s own section. SLC is easy to get to/from, has the urban scene on lock, but then the comfort of Park City park laps, big dumps and steeps at the Bird, or out-of-bounds access at Brighton, and a solid community of pros and eager Ams to back it up. But then you have the big sky country of Montana and Wyoming, and the high desert and alpine of Idaho, too. There’s no denying the force of a place like Jackson Hole, whose massive terrain, snowfall, backcountry access, vertical, and international presence is hard to compete with.
Like the rest of the regions in this guide, there are numerous mom and pop spots and riding areas off the beaten path, many rich in charm and snow and free of the faux village. There are probably a number of spots you’ve never heard of like Brian Head, Lost Trail, Maverick Mountain, Brundage, Grand Targhee, Schweitzer, Bogus Basin, Big Mountain—the list goes on. Perhaps the West is home to the vast majority of the last great snowboarding towns, the places we’d all like to put on the road trip map some day.
The following selections come from experience of living, working, and riding in as many areas in these Western states as possible between our edit staff, pro riders, photographers, and proud locals who claim the isolated beauty of these places as home. Take it as the rough outline, then pack up the rig and hit it.
Check out the next page for our top 3 freeriding resorts in the west…