The 11 Best Snowboarding Resorts in the U.S.

The 2011 US Open Snowboarding Championships at Stratton

Had enough of being trapped indoors this winter? Get outside with our DIY Winter Adventure series.

As winter approaches, there’s a lot to think about. Is your house properly insulated? Do you have ice and shovels in your garage so you can clear your driveway of snow? Do you know where you’re headed for your next snowboard trip?

Forget about the first two. To help you with the third, we’ve rounded up the 11 best snowboarding resorts in the country, from the East to the West Coast and all the best places to hit the half-pipe and shred the powder in between. So grab your gear and get ready to hit the mountain.

1. Park City

Photo: jharrw216 / CC

This Utah resort has 3,300 acres of ski and snowboard terrain and 114 trails. More importantly, it has three terrain parks and a superpipe. Seeing as the mountain was good enough for snowboarding Olympians at 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, it’s hard to imagine you’ll get bored or run out of challenges.

The icing on the cake? Between December 25 and March 25, Park City opens up its trails and one of the terrain parks after dark for night riding.

2. Squaw Valley

Photo: Rennett Stowe / CC

Also a past Olympics site (in 1960), Squaw Valley has a reputation as one of the toughest resorts around. To take its terrain park game to the next level, the California park demolished its half-pipe and built a one of a kind challenge in its place:

3. Vail

Photo: jrm353 / CC

It’s no surprise that one of the most famous ski and snowboard resorts in the country would find its way onto this list. Despite its image as a getaway for the rich and famous, Vail offers some great runs, as well as a big terrain park that features three half-pipes and 12 runs.

But if you’re more about riding fresh powder than grinding rails, there are also more than 3,000 acres of bowls on the back of the mountain.

4. Mammoth Mountain

Photo: Šarūnas Burdulis / CC

Nine terrain parks. Did you catch that? Nine terrain parks. With three half-pipes, spread over 100 acres. As the name and the above photo imply, Mammoth Mountain, which is actually a lava dome in the Sierra Nevada, is huge.

If you get a hankering for speed over air, take a gondola up and try out the famous (or is that infamous?) Hangman’s Hollow, Mammoth’s best known run.

5. Stratton

It’s not all about the Rockies and the West Coast. Stratton (pictured at top) is credited as the birthplace of snowboarding; it was the first resort to allow the sport, in 1983. And it’s come a long way since then, building four terrain parks, and now hosting the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships every year.

6. Big Sky

Big Sky’s Lone Peak. Photo: ck345 / CC

The fact that Big Sky is in Montana may be the secret to its success. If this 11,000 foot high mountain were in the Rockies or on the East Coast, it would likely be overrun. As it is, the resort features great riding without the time-killing lift lines you encounter at other, better known destinations.

Even more impressive than Big Sky’s three terrain parks is Lone Peak. Decide between 40 and 50 degree descents through extreme, treeless terrain, and hope you make it to the bottom. Then go up again.

7. Northstar-at-Tahoe

Photo: jcookfisher / CC

Perched on the California side of Lake Tahoe, Northstar doesn’t have a reputation for being the toughest mountain around. It’s a great resort for beginner and intermediate riders, the perfect place to hone your skills before hitting the harder slopes.

But Northstar has made an effort to attract advanced riders in recent years; there are 240 acres of backcountry and the deep, powdery trails of Sawtooth Ridge, if you’re willing to hike a bit to get there.

8. Breckenridge

Photo: Grayskullduggery / CC

Established in the 1850s as a gold mining town, Breckenridge, Colorado gave a much greater gift to the world in 1961, when the ski resort of the same name opened. Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, Breck has evolved into a riding juggernaut. Five terrain parks sprawl over 25 acres, with areas for beginning as well as advanced riders.

The town itself isn’t bad either — affordable hotels and some pretty sweet happy hours make the apres scene a good one.

9. Snowbird

Back bowl at Snowbird. Photo: Sabbath Photography / CC

Less than 30 miles from Salt Lake City, Snowbird gets a tremendous amount of snow – more than 40 feet annually. It shares a valley (and joint day passes) with the Alta Ski resort, and the Alta-Snowbird area was named the best ski area in the country by Skiing Magazine for the the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons.

10. Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole covers two mountains of terrain and an additional 3,000 of backcountry. A full 50 percent of its trails are advanced, so the resort always has a new challenge in store for riders looking to push themselves.

Last year, Jackson Hole became the first and only resort in the Rockies to have a Burton Stash terrain park. Based on the idea that freestyle riding started not on man-made ramps and pipes but on natural obstacles, the park challenges riders with trees, trunks and building roofs.

11. Keystone

Photo: √oхέƒx™ / CC

Breckenridge’s neighbor is a tougher mountain with lots to offer riders. Its A51 terrain park is one of the best in the country, and throws the daring off more than 100 jumps, rails, tables, and half-pipes.

It also includes five zones divided by difficulty level, and a Superpipe that stretches an astonishing 500 feet.

Top Photo: Ryan NeulsCC

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