Higher Learning—The Best Colleges For Snowboarding

Click Here For 2010 Updated College Lists:

West Coast

East Coast

You definitely want to go to college-and not just to get an education (although that is an added bonus). You want to go because your parents are probably gonna pay for it-they may even pay your rent and/or hook you up with some spending cash on the side. You’ll have structure but relatively little responsibility and no pressure to do something with your life, because, well, you are. Plus (and perhaps most importantly) the average university education allows you plenty of free time to get shredtastic. The college years are like training wheels for the real world-or like being sponsored.

Now, what if said parents aren’t paying a dime for a school that ends in the words “Community College” or “Training Institute?” They want nothing but the best for their kid-a good, solid, State University diploma. Not to worry. There’re plenty of those big-time, legit schools in places where you can still get wicked-and we have the pictures to prove it. Besides, it could be argued that finding that perfect college metropolis close to good riding is way more valuable than holing up in a mountain town taking online correspondence classes. You’ll get some damn culture-and if you’re a guy, you’ll be a lot happier with the male-to-female ratio.

East Coast

University Of Vermont: Burlington, Vermont

Burlington is a half hour from what is arguably the best freeriding on the East Coast: Stowe and Smuggler’s Notch. This steep, gladed terrain gets all kinds of pow pow and hides some insane cliff drops and tree jibs. The town of Stowe is home to Mr. Jake Burton himself-and Burlington houses the Burton International Headquarters, as well as the Rossignol Snowboards offices. Yup, B-town is the snowboard mecca of the East Coast.

Web site: uvm.edu

Nearest resort from downtown: Smuggler’s Notch (38 miles)

Snowboard team: Yes

Plymouth State University: Plymouth, New Hampshire

Plymouth is just down the road from the park action of Waterville Valley and Loon Mountain. Plymouth was also once home to the infamous Blue Lodge (RIP), an itinerant shredder commune of sorts with a ramp and mini rail zone in the backyard. It’s a small town, but a fun one with a thriving snowboard scene.

Web site: plymouth.edu

Nearest resort from downtown: Waterville Valley (eighteen miles)

Snowboard team: Yes (club)

Middle States

University Of Colorado: Boulder, Colorado

Like a little university/mountain-living utopia, Boulder crouches in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies--a half hour from downtown Denver, and less than two hours from any resort in Summit County or the Vail Valley: Breckenridge, A-Basin, Keystone, Copper Mountain, Vail, Beaver Creek, et cetera. Eldora is the closest resort (only a half hour away), where park riding and gladed powder trees are where it’s at. Boulder is pretty much run by college kids. There’re good restaurants, a happenin’ music scene, and a whole community of other rider-transplants like you just waiting to posse up for a weekend mission.

Web site: colorado.edu

Nearest resort from downtown: Eldora (twenty miles)

Snowboard team: Yes

University Of Utah: Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake isn’t one of North America’s most popular snowboarder cities for nothing. An easy drive gets you to a whole handful of resorts that are all amazing for different reasons. There’s Park City and the Canyons for park and pipe, plus Solitude, Snowbird, Brighton, and hiking Grizzly Gulch for real-deal freeriding. Also, if you don’t feel like driving (or just want a quick jib  after class), steam over to the infamous rail garden for a session.

Web site: utah.edu

Nearest resort from downtown: Solitude (26 miles)

Snowboard team: No

Montana State University: Bozeman, Montana

Here’s how we do it at MSU: Load up on classes in the fall when it’s gray and cold out, and when winter hits, squeeze everything into Tuesday and Thursday. That leaves you a solid five days a week to shred the steeps at Bridger Bowl, ride the tram at Big Sky, hike the epic at Moonlight, or fire up the sled and head off into the abundant backcountry that’s only minutes from “downtown.” Bozeman is to Montana what Austin is to Texas or Madison is to Wisconsin--a cultural hub in the middle of cow country. In addition to cows, it has sushi, unrivaled dive bars, a concrete skatepark, and one of the top-ten MTA film programs. The college is also known for its agriculture, engineering, math, architecture, graphic design, and science programs.

Web site: montana.edu

Nearest resort from downtown: Bridger Bowl (sixteen miles)

Snowboard team: No

West Coast

University Of Nevada At Reno: Reno, Nevada

You may be thinking, “Reno? Ain’t that in the desert?” And it is--sort of--but the city is also backed right up against the giant Sierra Nevada Mountains, and it’s only a 35-minute drive from the North Shore of Tahoe. Living in Reno, you’d have the entire Lake Tahoe area at your disposal--and that means a lot: Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Alpine Meadows, Northstar, Boreal, Heavenly, Sierra-at-Tahoe, parks, pipes, powder, gambling, strippers …

Web site: unr.edu

Nearest resort from downtown: Mt. Rose (26 miles)

Snowboard team: No

Portland State University: Portland, Oregon

Ah, Portland. You can’t argue with this town. Portland is the perfect small-sized city, with cheap living, good culture, and it’s only an hour from Mt. Hood. In addition to PSU, there’s also the highbrow private college of Reid, as well as PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art) and plenty of other top-notch arty schools. Plus, you’ve got year-round riding at Timberline, and a few minutes farther drive around the base of Mt. Hood gets you to the wind lips, gullies, and park kickers of Mt. Hood Meadows.

Web site: pdx.edu

Nearest resort from downtown: Ski Bowl (56 miles)

Snowboard team: Yes (club)

University Of Washington: Seattle, Washington

Seattle is big-city living, but it’s just over an hour to misty Northwest gems like Alpental and the Summit-at-Snoqualmie. These resorts get dumped on Washington-style, all the while maintaining the state’s reputation for mom-and-pop ski-resort atmosphere. Another hour or so more of driving will get you to Stevens Pass (epic night riding!) and Crystal Mountain (great hikeables). After all that’s done, you can drive back into the city and go to a museum or rock concert or something. Seattle’s one amazing city.

Web site: washington.edu

Nearest resort from downtown: The Summit-at-Snoqualmie (52 miles)

Snowboard team: Yes

Western Washington University: Bellingham, Washington

As long as you’re in Washington, you may as well post up in the closest real town from Washington’s most legendary resort--Mt. Baker. Bellingham is a real shred-college town and is home to such pro-ride people as Pat McCarthy and Mark Landvik. Just jump on Highway 542, and in an hour you’ll be standing in the Baker parking lot nervously eyeing the Shuksan Arm (which you’ll be hiking later). Also, Bellingham is as close as it gets to living in Canada, so trips across the border to Whistler, et cetera are completely doable.

Web site: wwu.edu

Nearest resort from downtown: Mt. Baker (55 miles)

Snowboard team: No


University Of British Columbia: Vancouver, B.C.

Like Seattle, Vancouver is a legit big city with a legit big school that just happens to be near legit big mountains. However, unlike Seattle, you barely have to drive to get on snow. Mt. Seymour, Grouse Mountain, and Cypress are all just a few minutes away from downtown. That means park riding with epic views of the city as a backdrop. More importantly, the steep deepness of Whistler/Blackcomb is an hour and a half up the Sea To Sky Highway--and if you don’t know the importance of that, we can’t help you.

Web site: ubc.ca

Nearest resort from downtown: Grouse Mountain (9.5 miles)

Snowboard team: No

University Of Calgary: Calgary, Alberta

Not up for fast livin’ on the West Coast? Attending the U of C, you’d be around two hours from Banff and the insanity that is the Canadian Rockies-giant-sized sheer cliffs, extreme lines, and light powder snow. Resorts like Lake Louise and Sunshine are sprinkled throughout that area. Plus, there’s the Canadian Olympic Park right in Calgary for all your park and Superpipe needs--not to mention the army of shreddable handrails all over town. Calgary gets effing cold, though, so don’t try to lick ’em if they’re metal.

Web site: ucalgary.ca

Nearest resort from downtown: Canadian Olympic Park (8 miles)

Snowboard team: No