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).
4. Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C. Canada
When it comes to Canadian super resorts, Whis is king. One of the biggest winter playgrounds in North America, the resort spans two interconnected mountains full of everything from agro alpine lines to finely tuned terrain-park perfection. There's plenty to ride for all levels and appetites, and, of course, plenty of powder. Plus, Blackcomb glacier is open during the summer for slush park shredding. The town of Whistler is a Mecca of the good mountain life, with a definite cosmopolitan flare due to its proximity to Vancouver.
#5. Park City, Utah
Park City is, ironically, most famous for its parks. From mini-shred kicker lines to pro-sized cheese wedges, PC's three terrain parks address every single rider, and the buffed out 22-foot Superpipe is Shaun White's "home pipe." There're also two back bowls full of gladed goodness, not to mention a packed dance floor along Main Street awaiting you come sundown. The best part? The place is only 40 minutes from the SLC International Airport—so fly by morning and ride by afternoon is a definite go.
#6. Sierra-at-Tahoe, California
Sierra-at-Tahoe is a sweet bite of South Shore goodness that sits twelve miles from South Lake Tahoe. It's a mellow, down-home spot that serves up all types of terrain—from craggy rock drops and stump/tree jibs to three different parks and South Shore's only Superpipe. There're acres of sumptuous, wind-protected tree riding courtesy of vast old-growth conifers and nearly 500 inches of fresh snow per season. The town of South Lake sits squarely over Nevada/California state line, and it's home to a lively range of food, gambling, and lodging opportunities.
#7. June Mountain, California
If Mammoth is a full-blown destination resort, June Mountain—20 minutes to the Northwest—is still an unpretentious hideaway. Real locals walk the streets of sleepy June Lake, and the mountain itself is a serene shred experience. But—don't be fooled, because in addition to trees and endless sunny groomers, the park is completely off the chain. Unique junkyard jibs like the famed satellite dish wallride and ball and chain jib have graced many a magazine page, and the resort just built a "hip cutter" from an old pipe cutter.
#8. Northstar-at-Tahoe, California
Northstar is a celebrated hub of Tahoe snowboarding. Why? It's got the parks—five of them, including the first ever Stash, an entire run devoted to natural terrain features (local logs and stumps, et cetera). It's also got the tree lines, the buffed out groomers, and the epic sushi restaurant right at resort base. With all that said, Northstar attracts many a Tahoe super pro on a daily basis. Lodging-wise, you can shack up right in snazzy Northstar Village and take advantage of the outdoor skating rink and plenty of restaurants, or drive fifteen minutes to Truckee—a gem of a historic logging/ski town with plenty of local flavor.
#9. Breckenridge, Colorado
An hour and a half drive from Denver, this high-altitude shred haven was one of the first mountains to allow snowboarding. The resort sprawls out horizontally into four different peaks harboring five awesome parks, two halfpipes, and eight bowls. With a base elevation of almost 10,000 feet, Breck gets you blower powder and above treeline adventuring, too. The town itself is less a tourist trap and more a historic mountain town with a devoted year-round population, cosmopolitan sensibilities, and definite soul.
#10. Keystone, Colorado
A park oriented paradise amidst looming Rocky Mountain peaks, Keystone features a banger terrain park called A51 that has its own high-speed chairlift and the only night park-riding in Colorado. The freeride scene is all about blue spruce glades and super long runs, while the off-hill scene is about sipping microbrews/mochas at the laid-back slopeside village or hightailing it to the nearest town, Silverthorne. Oh, and a rarity at central Colorado resorts, there's free parking within walking distance of the new gondola at River Run.
Click here for Transworld’s Top Ten Parks