Before you plan your winter shred trip, read this feature! For the past nine years TransWorld SNOWboarding has compiled a list of the best parks, pipes, and overall resorts according to your votes. This year over 1,700 of you—our readers—voted in the online poll, scoring everything from lift access, snowfall, and park grooming, to the lodging, food, and nightlife at the resorts you visited last winter. Over 160 resorts across North America were included in the poll, but only the following made the cut as your choice for the best overall resort experience. It’s time to start planning your winter—and it looks like one particular area of Colorado should be high on your list.—TWS
#1 Overall Resort—Snowmass, Colorado:
Wow! Snowmass jumped up from sixth place position from last season, and we’re betting that recent upgrades in the base area and on-hill (part of the ongoing billion-dollar development plan) led to that leap. No longer under the shadow of neighboring Aspen resorts, or even the town of Aspen for that matter, Snowmass has quickly become a snowboarder’s dream destination for all the right reasons—the riding.
The biggest of the four Aspen mountains, Snowmass (or “Snowmassive” as the locals call it) boasts 3,000 acres in-bounds and also claims the highest vertical rise in the country at 4,406 feet. Among this massive acreage are three terrain parks of varying difficulty levels—Snowmass Park, Makaha, and Scooper—and they’ve also got an eighteen-foot Superpipe. The layout of the Snowmass Park is built for progression. From the parallel box and rail setup to the perfect rhythm of the three pack of 45-55-65 foot jumps. The Lowdown is a box, roller, tabletop-filled progression park perfect for learning new moves.
Snowmass is more than groomers and parks—it’s steep chutes, high alpine powder, and cliff drops all laid out in front of you. Locals here are diehard—they hike the Cirque of the hanging valley for a black diamond rush, they float through the trees of the Big Burn, and they know where the powder’s still fresh three days after a storm.
When it’s all said and done the new base area is on point for some après—Sneaky’s Tavern or Zane’s Tavern are two of the better choices. Snowmass also has every lodging option from budget condos to luxury condos—95 percent of lodging is ride-in/ride out. If the nightlife lags too much, remember, there’s a free shuttle that will deliver you twelve miles into the town of Aspen. Looking at the big picture, it makes perfect sense that Snowmass earned your vote to become the overall number one resort.
Don’t Miss: Starting on the second Friday in February and continuing through the winter, you’ll have the chance to win $500 bucks at the Bud Light Big Air Fridays—if you win, it’s like a free vacation … you’ve just got to beat out the locals trying to pay their rent.
#2. Mammoth Mountain, California
One of the first resorts to seriously back snowboarding, Mammoth’s riding roots go deep, which includes being one of the first spots to have double Superpipes and multiple parks. These days, you’re looking at a total of seven parks covering 90-plus acres on eight different runs—never a dull moment! But don’t get stuck in the park, ’cause Mammoth has savage in-bounds steeps and wind-loaded trees, plus endless groomers. It truly is the complete package. The season goes from early November to late May—plenty of time to squeak in a trip.
#3. Buttermilk, Colorado
Although it blows up during Winter X Games, the gently rolling slopes of Buttermilk are usually the most vacant in the Aspen Valley. You’ll find sweet pow slashes days after a dump because all the powder hounds are at other mountains. It also lays claim to the TransWorld Resort Poll’s #1 Park And Pipe titles. Kickers and jibs link up from the mountaintop to bottom, where there’s an immaculate 22-foot Superpipe groomed nightly. Buttermilk is a five-minute drive from downtown Aspen, and there’s a free bus that runs back and forth around the clock (not to mention free parking at the base of Buttermilk—except during the X Games).