#1 Park: Buttermilk, Colorado
The first thing that comes to mind at the mention of the Buttermilk park is the terrifying X Games' gap jumps and massive step downs that threaten to chew up and spit out a Travis Rice-caliber rider, but that's not the real story at Buttermilk. It's true that you can show up after the X Games and ride a toned down version of that same four-pack of jumps, which is pretty high on the cool list, but there's more going on beyond the bright lights. Buttermilk has two parks—the Buttermilk Summit Express lift accesses the main park with key features like the aforementioned four pack of jumps on the lower Government run, but Buttermilk's park crew keeps it interesting with loads of jibs. According to Terrain Park Director Greg Boyd, the staff is encouraged to, "go hog wild incorporating natural features and getting creative with rails and jibs." Even debris left over from the X Games like plastic culverts are repurposed as impromptu jibs along the 2,030-foot long main park. It's this constant evolution that seems to stoke out riders the most. Beginner and intermediate riders also have the chance to progress in the park off the West Buttermilk Express with about twenty features including jumps and boxes.
The continuing evolution of the park and the sheer number of jibs (Boyd figures that they finished off the season with 110 features total) along with the draw of the X Games has undoubtedly pushed Buttermilk to the number one position, and the resort is continuing to make improvements. Look for a new concrete bridge smoothing out the linking trails on the top to bottom park run (Teasers to Uncle Chucks)—and according to Boyd, the bridge will have slanted walls, so even that is jibbable. Sick!
Don't Miss: Ever dreamed of competing in the X Games? Well, now you can— sorta. Hit up Buttermilk starting in early February to ride the same jumps as Andreas Wiig, Travis Rice, and Hana Beaman. Pre-purchase your lift tickets at aspensnowmass.com at a discounted rate.
Web site: www.aspensnowmass.com/buttermilk
#2 Park: Keystone, Colorado
Keystone's A51 Park is the definition of hype with 60 acres containing more than 35 features, a dedicated park lift for shorter lap time, and an eighteen-foot pipe. Divided into five main areas of shreddable obstacles, A51 has something to satisfy the appetite of any skill level for day and night riding. Freda's Incubator, the beginners park, features funboxes, smaller jumps and easy rails while the Main Street jumpline and other areas of A51continue to grow in innovation and remind pro shreds what intimidation feels like. For the freestyle fanatics, Two Sled Roads park boasts natural wood features in the trees. Keystone is hosting both the Gatorade Free Flow Tour and Volcom Peanut Butter & Rail Jam amateur comps.
Web site: www.keystoneresort.com/ski-and-snowboard/a51-terrain-park.aspx
3. Mammoth Mountain, California
Unbound Terrain Parks
With seven parks and events like USSA Grand Prix and Roxy Chicken Jam, it's no secret that Mammoth's Unbound Terrain Parks mean business. Spanning over eight runs and 90 acres, anything your shred hungry heart desires is on the menu—tables, hips, step-ups, step-downs, spines … 75-plus jibs including flat and kinked rails, bars and boxes, recycled lift towers, barrels and wallrides. Not ready to drop in with Mammoth team pros like Eddie Wall and Mason Aguirre on the 60 to 80-foot jumps in the Unbound Park? No worries, South Park has the best beginner/intermediate jumps from fifteen to mellow 30 footers, there're also jibs, down rails, and little kink rails. Also check the awesome boardercross-like course through the woods on South Park.
Web sites: mammothmountain.com
4. Snowmass, Colorado:
Snowmass has three parks to help you work your way up the rad scale. The entry level Lowdown park drops in with four jumps and five jibs to get you going—it's the perfect introduction into the life of a park rat. Little Makaha, the intermediate park, contains roughly four jumps, fifteen jibs, and big talk of expansion for the 2009/10 season. The main park, Snowmass Park, is where the hype's at covering 1,224 feet of vertical rise accessible by an –easy-to-lap six-minute chair ride to the top. With park nerds on the loose, Snowmass's ten jumps and 40 jibs are constantly changing. That, along with immaculate triple lines of jumps, makes this the park perfect for learning new tricks and perfecting old ones.
Web site: snowmassfreeride.com
5. June Mountain, California:
June Mountain is the spot to jib the bizarre, from satellite dishes, to wrecking balls, and old propane tanks without trespassing—it's right in the perfectly groomed park. The two parks, Sunrise and Mambo, vary in difficulty to challenge riders from your little sister to Shaun White. The four-minute chair ride and lack of lift lines make it possible to pound as many runs as you can handle—did we mention the lack of crowds? The beginners park, Mambo, contains down sized versions of the same features for learning progression. June Mountain is also offering new this year, a straight edge hip cutter, so be on the lookout for a dialed in hip throughout the winter. Discover this "get away" for Mammoth locals.
Web site: junemountain.com
6. Bear Mountain: All-Mountain Park
What is left to say about Bear? They revolutionized park riding with their skatepark style approach to snow and continue to raise the bar year after year. It's So Cal's shred oasis: they've got about 200 acres of shreddable terrain—that's plenty of room to pack in over 150 hits. Bear has jumps and jibs thrown in all over the mountain, with unique and progressive setups coming out on the daily, and they've got nearly every rail setup imaginable. Once the lifts stop turning, you can post up at The Scene in front of the base area. It's a setup of signature jibs right in the limelight for you to give your best Nima or Bradshaw impersonation. Just don't act a fool, 'cause they might be watching.
Web site: bearmountain.com
7. Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C. Canada: Nintendo Terrain Parks
Whistler/Blackcomb boasts eight parks of varying size and difficulty. On the Whistler peak, there's the Habitat Park, with a range of feature sizes from small to large for you to dial in your tricks. Jump the Peak-2-Peak Gondola over to Blackcomb Mountain and you'll find a buffet of parks ready for your feasting. Your lift ticket includes unlimited rides on the Peak-2-Peak Gondola, connecting you directly to both Emerald and Catskinner chairs, which are the main park lap lifts for you to get your hustle on. The Nintendo Terrain Park is located off the Catskinner chair, and there in Whistler/Blackcomb's signature park you'll find medium to large features along the 3,480-foot run. But that's only a stepping-stone to Highest Level. You need to sign extra waivers and get an HL specific park pass just to scope out this XL sized park run. If that doesn't paint the picture, helmets are mandatory.
Web site: whistlerblackcomb.com/parks/index.htm
8. Northstar-at-Tahoe, California
The terrain parks located on Lumberjack and Main Street are loaded with jumps, hips, rails and boxes some of the signature variety like the standout DC Shoes rail line and Red Bull rainbow ledge. Tucked in the trees, protected from the wind are numerous park options from the misty Stash runs which include the natural terrain features of the mountain to the full on full on in the Pinball park. Northstar's parks are Snow Park Technologies (SPT) parks, which equates with proven park design and maintenance.
Web site: www.northstarattahoe.com
9. Sierra-at-Tahoe, California
You'll find a variety of parks at Sierra littered around the mountain. Bashful, in West Bowl, is Sierra's signature park, featuring medium-sized hits set up throughout one long run. Around The Backside awaits The Alley, Sierra's biggest park. Check out Forum's edit from our Team Shoot Out to catch a glimpse of the stuff Sierra cooks up. If you're looking for something a little more low key, Broadway has a slew of smaller rails and jumps to get your jib juices flowing. Getting frustrated with learning a new trick? Head over to the Smokey Park off Grandview Express and blow off some steam with some fast ass boardercross laps.
Web site: sierraattahoe.com/parks-pipes.asp
10. Park City, Utah
Park City has three parks designed to help you progress your riding. Start off in the Pick n' Shovel park, there are a ton of boxes and small to medium sized features to hone in your skills. Once you've got your line down in there, step it up to King's Crown, where you'll find larger features than in Pick n' Shovel, but not quite as big as PC's claim to fame—Jonesy's. Jonesy's Park is super-sized, and a likely zone to spot a few of Park City's distinguished local heads. Drawing blanks? Think MFM, Bode Merrill, Aaron Biitter, Torstein Horgmo—the list goes on.
Web site: pcride.com/winter/index.html