A couple of weeks ago, Travel + Leisure released an article titled 20 Best Snowboarding Resorts in the World, According to Expert Boarders. Of the resorts they listed, 7 are in the US, 3 are in Canada (British Columbia, specifically), 3 are in France, 2 in Austria, 3 in Switzerland, and 2 in Japan. All of the resorts are commanding destinations with extensive terrain, annual high snowfall totals, and gorgeous locales, which makes sense with Travel + Leisure’s audience and leaning toward luxury. But even so, we felt that a few places were missing.
First off, we get it. It’s a list article. The internet is full of ’em and they’re designed to grab our attention with easy-to-digest information that we scroll through on the way to some other unrelated stop in the www wormhole. It goes without saying that any list offering a “best of” opens up a hefty can of worms, regardless of subject matter. When it comes to places to snowboard, there’s no way to actually determine what the “best” resorts are as what makes for a good time snowboarding is ultimately subjective. Any categorization of favorites is bound to leave plenty off that could arguably be in the mix.
But when we got to the end of the T + L article, we felt something was missing. We’ll start by saying that this is in no means a refutation to the T + L call-outs. The resorts they listed are fantastic places to snowboard. We love Mammoth, Laax, Niseko, Baldface, etc, etc–of course! And T + L included the opinion of at least one industry insider who really loves to board in the article, which is a rare thing in a more mainstream publication. We appreciate that.
And yes, we acknowledge that Travel + Leisure has a different audience than the traditional endemic snowboarding rag (one that likely can pay full far for their front-of-the-plane seats as opposed to holding out for upgrades). T + L caters toward luxury travelers, so it makes sense that the resorts they selected are the places that bucket lists are loaded with, mountains like Chamonix, Mt. Baker, and Les Arcs.
But there is so much more to snowboarding than just high elevation and powder (though those two things are pretty good). The heart of snowboarding pumps wildly with a freestyle ethos, no matter your preferred terrain, and is imbued with creativity that carries throughout steeps, groomers, and beyond. And of course, terrain parks. That wasn’t the focus of the existing list, but it’s hugely important to us. When it comes to the “best resorts for snowboarding” there are so many more mountains that are vital to the current conversation, no matter if your vacation budget is more caviar or cup of noodles. And especially if you veer toward the park when you head to the hill.
Here’s the full list presented by Travel + Leisure:
Mammoth Mountain, California
Mt. Baker, Washington
Park City, Utah (no specific mention of Woodward PC)
Aspen Snowmass, Colorado
Mt. Bachelor, Oregon
Kitzsteinhorn Glacier, Austria
Niseko United, Japan
Baldface Lodge, British Columbia
Les Arcs, France
Davos Klosters, Switzerland
St. Anton Ski Arlberg, Austria
Revelstoke Mountain Resort, British Columbia
Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
Again, any “best resorts” list is subjective as it gets, so we thought it would be fun to add a few places to the conversation. So consider this an addendum of additional resorts that are snowboarding favorites. There’s plenty more where this came from–and a great thing to debate while road tripping to your next day on snow. Listed in no particular order.
1. Trollhaugen, Wisconsin
An oasis of snowboarding within a state known more for its dairy than its downhill, Trollhaugen is well-known, well-celebrated, and well-loved. It’s been an incubator for talent as long as we can remember; many of the Midwest’s best have come up on the rope tow at Troll. And Trollhaugen’s Valhalla park is the stuff of legends, frequented by more pros that Augusta National during Masters weekend–both from the nearby Twin Cities as well as out-of-town crews that come through all winter. Lord of the Ropes is a long-running staple event that’s broadcast lofi live every year; Snowboy has help plenty of events at Troll, from The Troll Project to last winter’s DUH.; and Troll is the home of Take the Rake, the all-women’s terrain park build event that has been a game changer in the greater operations world. As if you needed any more reasons to get to Troll, there are Late Night Fridays and cheese curds on tap all winter long.
2. Powder Mountain, Utah
All you need to be completely sold on Pow Mow is a single powder day. After a storm, drive the hour-ish from Salt Lake City to Eden, Utah and follow a friend that knows the resort’s terrain. Your wildest powder dreams will undoubtedly come true–all without lift lines and sans previous tracks. “Powder Mountain is known as the most magical destination on Earth, embodying the essence of one’s wildest dreams,” extols Kelsey Boyer, SLC resident and founder of Save A Brain. “The experience of indulging in bus laps, vocally celebrating the untouched powder with friends, and enjoying the ramen bar to unwind and toast to the day’s adventures truly sets this place apart and makes it so special.”
3. Sunshine Village, Alberta
We asked Banff local and SNOWBOARD Mag writer Ally Watson to share the goods on what makes SSV a resort you want to add to your “must go” list if you haven’t been to this Albertan destination already. “Sunshine Village is located in the heart of Banff National Park, and with the scenic gondola access directly into the alpine, this resort sure knows how to show off the views. With a 360 panorama of the rugged Canadian Rockies from most lifts, and one of the longest seasons in the country, Sunshine is a must when visiting Western Canada. It’s got a mix of everything from steep groomers, to family friendly zones, expansive terrain parks, and the famed Delirium Dive freeride zone. Be sure to head to Trappers Saloon in the centre of the Sunshine’s namesake village for a beer and if you’re lucky, some live music.” Stay in Banff or Canmore for plenty of access to good food and good après, too.
4. Ruka Ski Resort, Finland
Located in northern Finland, Ruka is a name that resonates in snowboarding, even if you haven’t had the chance to visit yet. The resort is dedicated to “I love the long seasons at Ruka,” says Ivika Jürgenson, who made Kuusamo her homebase a few years ago. “The resort is relatively small compared to the resorts in the Alps but they are focusing a lot on freestyle snowboarding/skiing. When the resort opens in early October it has a full top-to-bottom park slope open. The lifts are really fast and during the polar nights you can ride with the lights on which completely gets rid of the flat light situation. It’s a gem in the Finnish Lapland.”
5. Loon Mountain, New Hampshire
A nucleus on the East Coast that has turned out its share of influential professionals as well as notorious locals. Loon’s legacy of inventive park builds has long turned heads and beckoned boarders from all over the world to the White Mountains (Eastern Boarder’s Last Call is a benchmark for inventive features. See also: many Superparks, The Loon Project, Cease and Desist, and the LMP on any given day in winter). There’s heavy consumer competition in New England with a high number of resorts in a relatively small geographical space and Loon has been a favorite for years and years because of its hot lapable trails and immaculate terrain parks–plus the warm gondola ride and welcoming buzzards in the Bunyan Room don’t hurt, either.
6. Bear Mountain, California
Bear is an oasis of snowboarding in Southern California and its park is one of the most infamous anywhere. From the pros who call the mountain home (like Chris Bradshaw, Brandon Davis, Jordan Small, and Lenny Mazzotti, just to name a few) to a history of legendary events (Hot Dawgs and Handrails, Snowboarder Mag’s The Launch, JP Walker’s Handplant Holiday, as well as stops of Ayye Esse, CORE Nation, Volcom PBRJ, Slush Magazine’s contests, etc.), as well as video sessions that are stamped into our memories (Rome’s winning Team Challenge entry, the Junkyard set up, Sundays in the Park!), Bear is a pilgrimage destination for snowboarders from all over the world. All of this is, of course, supported by consistent sunny days and a Chair 9 lap that is littered with features from top to bottom. It doesn’t get much better!
7. Mountain Creek, New Jersey
If you haven’t ridden in New Jersey, you’re missing out. While you might pizza and bagels more than snowboarding when you think of The Garden State . “Riding Mountain Creek is iconic,” explains Matt Bothfield, Creek local and Oakley Mid Atlantic Sports Rep. “Some of the best snowboarders in the world have come out of this place, from back in the Grand Prix and Grenade Gloves days with Danny Kass to now with young bucks like LJ Henriquez coming on to the scene. Taking fast laps with your friends on the South Peak is the best. There’s a reason why locals call the trail, Canyon, ‘Fun Run.'”
8. Copper Mountain, Colorado
Copper mountain.. I love that place. You can see a trend at a lot of resorts not putting effort into making their parks better. Or they are making them smaller. Whereas at Copper, every year they are pushing themselves to make the park better and better. – Red
9. Appalachian Ski Mountain, North Carolina
The winters in North Carolina might not be the longest, but they are fueled by a love of boarding that rivals any other region. Just look at the riders that have come out of the Blue Ridge Mountains that are shaping snowboarding right now and paving the way for more Southeastern talent: Luke Winkelmann, Zeb Powell, Brantley Mullins. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, App Ski is a special spot. “I love App because of the passion surrounding that place. It takes a lot to run a resort in North Carolina, but they do it and they do it right!” says Luke. “They got some of the best snowmaking around and a dedicated park crew that values progression for the upcoming kids to learn really anything. They got jumps, rails, boxes, side hits, hips, just about everything ! You can ride it all at App and will have an absolute blast doing it.” Don’t forget that Sunday is prime rib day, too–App has some of the best lodge food you’ll find anywhere.
10. Bogus Basin, Idaho
Nestled just a 45-minute drive outside of Boise, Bogus Basin is a locals’ favorite and has been planted firmly on snowboarding’s list of beloved resorts outside of Idaho for many years. Corey McDonald, veteran park builder and member of the industry, runs the terrain parks at Bogus and has helped to cultivate not only a fun set up, but a welcoming community. Laura Rogoski lives in the Midwest, but frequents Bogus, both to ride and as a builder, working on two Snowboy events there. “The people that work there make Bogus Basin what it is to me, coupled by really interesting terrain. I love going to visit. Corey is head of parks and Austin Smith is head of marketing. What they both do for the community is why I love Bogus Basin,” says Laura. “I really like the freeriding at Bogus, but the reason I go there to freeride is because of how welcome I feel there.” Bogus is also a non-profit, community-run resort. “They push to create inclusivity and they hold a bunch of really cool events for people in their community and you feel that vibe when you’re at their mountain,” adds Laura. Plus, when you get down from the hill, the skateboarding in the area is phenomenal and you can skate there year-round.
11. Boreal, California
A quick 15-minute drive from downtown Truckee or just 45 minutes from Reno and you’re at Boreal Ski Resort, the home of Woodward Tahoe. Boreal is a locals’ favorite in Tahoe, where the competition of where to go riding for the day is steep, but when it comes to dedicated days in the park, Boreal’s Woodward builds are a snowboarding siren song. “Boreal is hot laps in the Tahoe sunshine with a creative, flowy park,” says Christine Savage, who is a local at the resort and also founded a women’s snowboard camp called Beyond the Boundaries that holds events there every year. “It’s got the best vibes and you can show up solo anytime of day or night knowing you’ll run into homies and have the best time.” Boreal’s list of events is also renowned, from the IT’S TITS! to The Uninvited Invitational, and many more.