North America has some great destinations for the snowboarding crowd. For those looking to bomb the steeps and tear through fresh powder, these standout destinations are among the best.
Whistler/Blackcomb, British Columbia
Whistler/Blackcomb is home to the longest terrain park season in the country with the resort staying open until June. That makes off-season minimal for riders who don’t want to stop. The area has a massive reputation and lives up to it with the most boardable terrain in North America, spanning 8171 acres. The vastness and variety has something for novices and plenty more for seasoned shredders. It’s located just two hours north of Vancouver International Airport in the coastal mountains of British Columbia. Grab your passport if you’re coming from the states to try out this world-leader in parks and pipes. Two side-by-side mountains are connected by the Peak-to-Peak Gondola and supported by one of the world’s largest networks of high-speed chairlifts.
Mammoth Mountain, California
Snowboarders rate Mammoth Mountain a solid 10 for the great freeriding and freestyle options, plus the area has good off-piste and tree runs. Over a dozen parks and two pipes draw boarders who anticipate how heavy snow will heighten the experience. January at Mammoth is especially busy, packed with big events like the US Freeski and Snowboard Grand Prix, the US Revolution Tour, the Electric Tubing Kick Off, and the Burton Mountain Festival. Mammoth Mountain is located in Mammoth Lakes, California. Drive time is about 5 hours north from Los Angeles and 3 hours south of Reno. Mammoth Lakes sits at 8000 feet elevation and enjoys 300 sunny days per year. Temperatures vary greatly by elevation and winter storms often deliver snow that is measurable in feet.
Vail is a top-rated destination for serious boarders who don’t discount the added appeal of the town’s lively nightlife in the bars, restaurants, and clubs that circle the main square in the village. The town has a distinctly European vibe with its cobbled streets and covered bridges, and lots to offer in great local services and snow-centered activities. The riding on Vail Mountain is fantastic for every style and level of snowboarder. Slopes are always immaculately groomed, as are the three parks and the halfpipe. Freeriders will find trees and good off-piste areas to play in. During an average winter there’s always plenty of fresh snow, especially in the back bowls on the mountain where it can be waist-high over the deep pitches. Vail is an easy 2-hour drive from Denver.
Mount Bachelor, Oregon
Mount Bachelor offers diverse terrain with more than half of the mountain reserved for experts. There are 71 trails, with runs fed by seven express quad lifts, three triples, and two magic carpets. The six freestyle terrain parks offer a mix of small to large rails, jibs, and pipes. While many of the runs here are not extremely steep, there’s still room for thrills when you head into the trees. Bachelor is one of the few North American resorts to stay open through Memorial Day. Don’t miss your chance to hike up and plunge down The Cirque – it’s Mount Bachelor’s signature feature and a high speed hair-raising ride. Mount Bachelor is a short drive from Bend, Oregon.
Mount Hood Meadows, Oregon
Just 90 minutes from Portland, Mount Hood Meadows delivers a big mountain experience, operating on a special use permit on the Mount Hood National Forest. The resort sprawls across the southeast flank of the mountain on the sunny, wind-protected side. It covers 2150 acres, with a highest lift-served elevation of 7300 feet. Legendary Heather Canyon offers endlessly steep pitches of powder with an additional 1700 vertical feet for hikers who want to drop into the double blacks of Super Bowl above Heather, making the total vertical available in one run of nearly 4500 feet. The area has 11 lifts including 5 high-speed quads. Terrain here is known for its diversity and playfulness. There are stunning panoramic views east and west, and several great runs for intermediate cruising. For a bigger challenge, try the gladed trails with cliff outcroppings or the epic runs in the open bowls of Elk and Yoda.
Photo credit: Dreamstime