To make it as one of the ten best, a resort has to rank high in both the park and pipe categories, as well as in other crucial areas such as nightlife, snowfall, vibe, lodging, food, et cetera—all the other stuff that matters when you’re getting after the best shred experience possible.
1. Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado
Sitting a stone’s throw from three other mountains in the area (Ajax, Buttermilk, and Highlands), this resort could easily get lost in the shuffle-but it doesn’t. Back in the number-one spot again this year, Snowmass reigns supreme by showcasing the complete package. It’s a huge mountain (3,000 shredable acres!) with multiple parks and pipes set ten minutes from a world-famous party town. What’s not to love?
Blessed with the Colorado Rockies’ super-light, fluffy snow and tons of sunny days, Snowmass kinda has the best-of-both-worlds thing going on. Snow days are best enjoyed by hiking the Cirque and then letting ‘er rip through open powder fields that dump into glades. Sunny days should be spent rouping off rollers or fine-tuning tricks in one of three parks.
Lowdown Park is chock-full of beginner-level jumps and jibs, plus a new thirteen-foot halfpipe. Makaha Park is the intermediate stage, and Snowmass Park is the main, expert-level park-where you’ll find the Superpipe and a nice balance of challenging, photo-worthy elements and fun, jibby features. Also, Snowmass added a boardercross course this past season to huge acclaim.
Although this area has a ritzy (expensive) rep, there’re deals to be had (Snowmass’s swanky Viceroy Hotel is always running discounts) and plenty of misty locals’ spots to unearth (hit Johnny McGuire’s or Big Wrap in Aspen for classic post-shred food). Plus, there’s a free shuttle running into the town of Aspen, and you can use your lift ticket to shred the three other resorts in the valley, too.
For the rest of the 2011 Top Ten Overall Resorts, click the page numbers below.