The top snowboard park rankings are earned by scoring high in park-specific categories, like jump and rail design, grooming, variety of features, overall vibe, and park challenge. But this ain’t no beauty contest; these parks have to do some serious work to make it into the top ten.
1. Buttermilk, Colorado
The defending champion for the last two years, Buttermilk has the park category on lockdown. Why? Because it has to. Being the host of the X Games means constantly meeting the challenge to create something progressive for the world’s most progressive park riders-which is exactly what Buttermilk has done.
The resort puts all its early season snowmaking artillery into the above task, and then once the piles are huge enough, Buttermilk Terrain Park staff consults with Snow Park Technologies, and then steps in and goes to work. The result is a 2,000-plus-foot-long run full of creative jibs and precision kickers, gaps, and step-downs, ending in the famous triple line of money booters. This is the very park that, when Winter X draws to a close at the end of January, you’ll be riding (albeit a mellowed-out version). So strap in, pretend your last name’s Helgason or Ettala, and let it fly.
Buttermilk has also developed a handful of other parks on the upper mountain that cater to every ability level. These include Uncle Chuck, Jacob’s Ladder, Teaser Park, and a small park on West Buttermilk called S3 that’s perfect for beginners. It’s tough to take a run and not encounter a jump or jib, and in fact, the sheer volume of space that this resort devotes to park features (there’s over a hundred jibs to bonk and slide!) shows Buttermilk’s level of commitment to the institution of park.
For the rest of the 2011 Top Ten Parks, click the page numbers below.
2. Keystone, Colorado
Keystone edged its way into second-place this year by offering something unique for every level of rider. “We have a very creative crew, and we try to bring photo-shoot style features into our public park,” says Terrain Park Manager Lee George. With over 100 features, A51 Park may be huge, but it’s got an intuitive layout-five different zones comprise one big park set in a huge bowl with its own lift. You’ll find everything from your most basic flatbox to the most technical rail setups, as well as skate-style bowls, quarterpipes, jib pipes, and more-all maintained on the daily. Peep Jed Anderson’s front blunt on the cover of the TWS September issue for more proof of A51’s awesomeness.
3. June Mountain, California
A lack of crowds used to be the main reason people drove over from Mammoth to ride June Mountain. Now it’s because the parks are rad. Mambo park gets beginners stoked with fun line of smaller 20-to-30-foot jumps and about ten jibs with minimal consequence. This gets riders ready for the 1.5-mile-long Sunrise park. This is where the big jumps live-a double line of 60-footers feeds into a pair of hips with a line of jibs running parallel which sends riders down to Lower Sunrise. In this zone, a four-pack of jumps leads into heaps of other creative features and jibs. In one run through Sunrise you can hit nine jumps and nearly 25 jibs.
4. Mammoth Mountain, California
You get lots of hits at Mammoth. Six of their seven parks are serviced by high-speed chairlifts. This will get you up top fast to attack over 90 acres of shred-specific terrain from the massive 75-foot jumps of Main Park to the little fun ones in South Park, Mammoth is all about hot laps.
5. Snowmass, Colorado
Snowmass has the smooth-cut jumps and expert rails on lock, but what might really suck you in is being able to rip ten laps in a row and find a new line every time. This is thanks to the buffet of fun jibby features packed into crannies throughout the park-plus a line of Zaugg-cut transitions for slashin’ and a boardercross course where you can leave your friends in the dust.
Torstein’s stage-setting park run from Standard Films’ Black Winter
6. Northstar-at-Tahoe, California
The amount of features rotating through Northstar’s seven parks is purely daunting. You’d think the park staff doesn’t sleep … and sometimes they don’t. From the pro lines of the Strait Park to the Moonshine mini park, they keep their arsenal of jibs, jumps, and rails revolving all winter with variety for every ability level-in fact, TWS also awarded the park “Best TransAM Park” honors.
7. Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia
With over 80 acres of parks scattered across the trail map, Whistler has a lot to offer park shreds. There are five separate Nintendo Terrain Parks, so you feel like you’re in a video game while trying to jump and jib their 100-plus hits. From mini-shred in the Terrain Garden to imposing pro jump lines in the Highest Level park, Whistler-Blackomb’s park experience is complete.
8. Bear Mountain, California
Bear Mountain is absolutely covered with great hits: there are over 150 features to jump, jib slide or slash sprinkled all over this 200-plus acre playground. The fact that most people go to SoCal for the beach and not the boardin’ could be the reason Bear is sitting only at number eight.
9. Breckenridge, Colorado
Five unique parks, a fourteen-foot mini-pipe and a class Superpipe are the focus at Breckenridge, with enough features to shred, lifts to access, and wide-open, welcome vibes to please just about anyone. With a true skatepark feel, Park Lane is the favorite lapper, while Freeway will test the heaviest of your crew. And oh, yeah-the town legalized weed. Boo-yah.
10. Sierra-At-Tahoe, California
Whether you’re a headline pro, seasoned local, or still learning the basics, Sierra’s five parks will keep you hyped from first chair to last. Focused on creating a true lapping playground for snowboarders, the park crew adds new and unique features each week, paying great attention to flow, aesthetic detail, and progression. With a relaxed yet dedicated vibe throughout, expect to feel both challenged and at home from the moment you strap in.