Resort Poll 2013: Top 10 Overall

Top 10 Best Overall Snowboard Resorts

Words by Mike Sudmeier

 

1. Aspen/Snowmass

 

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Alex Rodway. Aspen, Colorado. PHOTO: DARCY BACHA

Snowmass

Average Snowfall: 300"

Elevation: 12,510'

Vertical Drop: 4,406'

Number of Lifts: 21

Hub: Denver, Colorado

Website: aspensnowmass.com

 

Aspen Highlands

Average Snowfall: 300"

Elevation: 11,675'

Vertical Drop: 3,635'

Number of Lifts: 5

Website: aspensnowmass.com/aspen-highlands

 

Aspen Mountain

Average Snowfall: 300"

Elevation: 11,212'

Vertical Drop: 3,267'

Number of Lifts: 8

Website: aspensnowmass.com/aspen-mountain

 

Buttermilk

Average Snowfall: 200"

Elevation: 9,900'

Vertical Drop: 2,030'

Number of Lifts: 8

Website: aspensnowmass.com/buttermilk 

 

With four distinct mountains, Aspen/Snowmass offers a buffet of terrain.  We tapped Doran Laybourn for the lowdown. For years, he's called the area home because "Aspen/Snowmass really has it all." According to Doran, if you're in the mood for hot laps, Buttermilk is the spot for top-to-bottom park features, Superpipe hits, and plenty of groomers. On pow days, hit up Highlands Bowl or the Highlands Deep Temerity area. After that's tracked, you can usually find snow on Burnt Mountain at Snowmass. When the lifts close, get your après on at Sneaky's Tavern in Snowmass or Eric's Bar in Aspen. For dinner, snag sushi at Kenichi or a sandwich at Johnny McGuire's. Park perfection, blower pow, and an all-time après scene—Aspen has it all.

2. Park City, Utah

 

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Dan Brisse. Park City, Utah. PHOTO: ROB MATHIS

 

Average Snowfall: 365"

Elevation: 10,000'

Vertical Drop: 3,100'

Number of Lifts: 16

Hub: Salt Lake City, Utah

Website: parkcitymountain.com

 

Don't be deceived by the name—there's more to Park City than kickers and rails. Sage Kotsenburg grew up here, "and there's no reason to leave," he says. "It is my favorite park, an awesome town, and an amazing mountain." Sage suggests starting your day off with breakfast at Wasatch Bagel then warming up on Claim Jumper. If it's dumping, head to Scott's Bowl or the trees by Pinecone Ridge. For lunch, make your way to Cobra Dogs at the bottom of 3 Kings park. Then ply your park skills in the new Neff Land or throw down your A-game in King's Crown. At the end of the day, snag some cheap beer at O'Shucks or a killer pizza at Davanza's. If you still haven't gotten your fill, head back for night riding.

3.  Mammoth, California

 

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Spencer Whiting. Mammoth Mountain, California. PHOTO: PETER MORNING

Average Snowfall: 400"

Elevation: 11,053'

Vertical Drop: 3,100'

Number of Lifts: 28

Hub: Reno, Nevada

Website: mammothmountain.com

Steeps to park, Mammoth has something for everyone. Despite its diverse terrain, Luke Mitrani maintains, "The best part about Mammoth is the sunshine. It can be the middle of winter and feel like spring." Do your day like Luke with an Early Riser breakfast from the Old New York Deli & Bakery Co. in the village. Then, to session some midsize kickers, head straight to South Park. Otherwise, "The best lap run is the run under Chair 12," Luke says. "When it snows, it's unreal. Tons of little bumps, backflip jumps, and side hits to have fun on all day." On pow days, seek out the Dragon's Tail. When the sun sets, head to Mammoth Brewing Company for drinks. Make plans to move here over dinner at Roberto's.

4. Bear Mountain, California

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Zak Hale. Bear Mountain, California. PHOTO: CHRIS WELLHAUSEN

 

Average Snowfall: 100"

Elevation: 8,805'

Vertical Drop: 1,665'

Number of Lifts: 9

Hub: Los Angeles, California

Website: bearmountain.com

 

Bear is a park rat's dream. Just ask Chris Bradshaw. "Pretty much the whole mountain is a park," he says. "Everybody's all about having a good time—rain or shine you can find the locs shredding hard every day." Thanks to a killer park crew, you can enjoy top-to-bottom jib lines and manicured kickers throughout Park Run. And for street-inspired features, drop into the Red Bull Plaza. But there's more than just park. For natural banks and trannies, explore Geronimo Gulch, Bradshaw suggests. If you can't make it up midweek, Bear can be crowded on the weekends, but things usually quiet down by 1:00 p.m. After shredding, wind down at Murray's with a pitcher of PBR, then keep the fiesta going with some Mexican food at Sonora Cantina.

5. Whistler/Blackcomb, BC, Canada

 

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Adam Chuntz. Whistler, BC, Canada. PHOTO: JUSSI GRZNAR

Average Snowfall: 470"

Elevation: 7,494'

Vertical Drop: 5,209'

Number of Lifts: 37

Hub: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Website: whistlerblackcomb.com

 

"Throughout my years of traveling, I always want to come home to ride Whistler," Leanne Pelosi confesses. We can't blame her—the area has more than 8,000 acres of cliff drops, tree runs, and parks. For hot laps Leanne recommends the hit runs off of Red Chair on Whistler. Lower down, look for bike trails with sick berms hidden among the trees. But if it's snowing, Peak to Creek is where it's at. The Blackcomb park is the go-to for jumping, while the Whistler park is best for jibbing. Switching mountains and parks is easy with an 11-minute ride on the Peak-2-Peak gondola. When your legs are spent, visit rider-owned El Furniture Warehouse for cheap beer, followed by Sushi Village for dinner.

6. Sierra-at-Tahoe, California

Best Snowboard Resorts Sierra_At_Tahoe_Enni_Rukajarvi_Chris_Wellhausen_02

Enni Rukajarvi. Sierra-at-Tahoe, California. PHOTO: CHRIS WELLHAUSEN

 

Average Snowfall: 480"

Elevation: 8,852'

Vertical Drop: 2,212'

Number of Lifts: 14

Hub: Reno, Nevada

Website: sierraattahoe.com

 

If the terrain at Sierra-at-Tahoe doesn't make you drool, study the scenery.  Massive old growth forests surround the mountain and provide the perfect backdrop for its epic parks. Jamie Anderson grew up lapping them and continues to call Sierra-at-Tahoe her home. "I love Sugar N' Spice to The Alley then to West Bowl," Anderson says. "It's a big fun lap, and there are lots of side hits and log rides the whole way." When the snow falls, hit up Huckleberry Bowl—but bring your backcountry game—it's not patrolled.  For good eats on the mountain, visit the Happy Hippie Café. Once you finally get those boots off, head to the Free Bird Café or Off the Hook Sushi for dinner.

7. Keystone, Colorado

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Tim Humphreys. Keystone, Colorado. PHOTO: AARON DODDS

Average Snowfall: 235"

Elevation: 12,408'

Vertical Drop: 3,128'

Number of Lifts: 20

Hub: Denver, Colorado

Website: keystoneresort.com

 

Listen to local ripper Josh Stock talk about Keystone and you'll want to drop everything and move there. "Keystone is one of those places where everybody knows your name," he says. In addition to a crew of welcoming locals, the mountain boasts epic terrain. To get things started, Josh points to Go Devil, the rollers on Jackwhacker or the banks and log jibs along Schoolmarm. When that dry, light Colorado snow flies, drop into The Windows, consider a cheap cat ride to Bergman or Ericson bowls, or explore the bowls in the Outback. The park is all about Area-51. Serviced by its own lift, it has plenty of kickers and skate-influenced jib lines. For cheap beer and grub, Stock offers, "Poor shred bums swear by Dos Locos."

8. Copper, Colorado

 

Average Snowfall: 279"

Elevation: 12,313'

Vertical Drop: 2,601'

Number of Lifts: 22

Hub: Denver, Colorado

Website: coppercolorado.com

 Photo Gallery from our Park Sessions at Woodward at Copper.

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PHOTOS: Darcy Bacha

 

Despite its world-class shred scene, Copper lacks the crowds common elsewhere in Summit County. For Woodward at Copper Head, Coach Rick Shimpeno says Copper's tight-knit feel causes "many of the sessions to feel like family reunions." Here are some of his family secrets: Start by finding Mario Land, a hidden zone filled with stumps, bumps, and pow stashes. Next, make your way to the Playground and Woodward Central parks before rolling into the Superpipe. Top up by grabbing a slice of pizza at Jack's before hopping back on the chair. On pow days, make some slashes on the steep, rolling terrain by the A chair. For post-shred fun, snag a skate session at Woodward, drinks at Endo's, or grub at Alpinista.

9. Breckenridge, Colorado

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Nate Kern. Breckenridge, Colorado. PHOTO: AARON DODDS

 

Average Snowfall: 350"

Elevation: 8,610'

Vertical Drop: 2,280'

Number of Lifts: 20

Hub: Denver, Colorado

Website: breckenridge.com

 

Whether you're a park rat or soul shredder, Breckenridge has got the goods. "The mountain has great flow and four different peaks to ride," Eric Willett says. He suggests kicking things off on Peak 9. "There are a couple hidden spots on the mountain with some natural and manmade log jibs through the trees," he says. After a storm, enjoy deep snow off 6-Chair. Then hit up the rider's right of Peak 10 for lines through the trees, followed by T-Bar laps to North Bowl, where there are often pockets of pow. Finally, session Breck's precision-built parks. When night falls, hurry to Empire Burger or Downstairs at Eric's. For a month of insane fiestas and music, catch Breck Spring Fever.

10. Northstar, California

 

Average Snowfall: 350"

Elevation: 8,610'

Vertical Drop: 2,280'

Number of Lifts: 20

Hub: Reno, Nevada

Website: northstarcalifornia.com

 

Eero Ettala calls Northstar home because of its "overall mellow Tahoe vibe and sunny California feeling." He gets his day going by taking the Zephyr Express then following Pioneer Trail to the Stash Park where you can session wooden jibs all the way to the lift. If you're craving more park, Eero recommends hitting Pinball. It's got top-to-bottom jumps, rails, and jibs, followed by a pipe. Hitting so many features is bound to make you hungry, so snag lunch at the Zephyr Lodge. If it's snowing, however, explore the trees on The Backside or Martis Camp. For après head to TC's Pub for brews and grub, or head to Truckee and hit Bill's or Tacos Jalisco. With Northstar enjoying more than 300 days of sunshine a year, you can toast to many more laps.