Winter has come and it's time to hit the slopes. If you're a die-hard snowboarder or even just getting started in the sport, chances are what you look for in the perfect resort is a little different than the skiers who you share the snow with. From North America to Japan, here are 10 of the best destinations for snowboarders this winter.
1. Whistler, BC
Whistler's Peak-2-Peak Gondola — Photo courtesy of ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser
As the latest host to the Winter Olympic Games, Whistler's facilities for winter sports are top-notch. Largest resort in North America, highest vertical drop of any resort worldwide, best terrain parks on earth, first peak-to-peak gondola – the accolades keep rolling in. With a location close to the Pacific Ocean, expect plenty of fresh powder days.
2. Mammoth Mountain, California
If you can't get enough of terrain parks, Mammoth Mountain has a whopping nine. The season starts early – sometimes as early as late October – and ends late. The steeps of Hangman's Hollow will satisfy the most intrepid speed demons. Did we mention snowboarding legend Shaun White is a season pass holder?
3. Morzine, France
The fun parks of Morzine are some of the best in Europe, including a terrain run featuring only natural obstacles. You'll enjoy access to the entire Portes du Soleil area on a single lift pass, which translates to more than 500 miles of trails accessible via 206 lifts.
4. Breckenridge, Colorado
Breckenridge — Photo courtesy of Maxim B.
At Breckenridge, you'll have five progressively difficult terrain parks and two meticulously groomed half-pipes to keep you entertained, all in a resort with a long season (November to April) with a long tradition of snowboarding. This resort has been hosting competitions in the sport for more than 20 years.
5. Niseko, Japan
The three non-linked ski areas of Niseko, Japan comprise the second-snowiest resort in the world. The long journey will reward you with two terrain parks, a pipe, a rail park, a fascinating new culture to experience and, perhaps most importantly, perfect powder.
6. Squaw Valley, California
The Palisades — Photo courtesy of Squaw Valley
Thanks in part to its custom-made half pipe, Squaw Valley is considered by many to be one of the most challenging resorts in North America; the cliffs and steeps here are legendary. If you're not quite up to the challenge just yet, nearby Northstar has terrain parks and beginner runs perfect for polishing your skills.
7. Park City, Utah
Eight peaks and more than 3,300 acres of terrain give the crowds at Park City plenty of room to spread out. You'll have three terrain parks and a superpipe at your disposal, and if you visit from late December through March, you can experience night riding on several of the resorts 114 trails and one of its terrain parks.
8. Big Sky, Montana
The Lone Peak — Photo courtesy of ck345
Big Sky's Lone Peak offers thrilling treeless terrain for riders who've had enough of it's three terrain parks. But that's not even the biggest draw. Since Big Sky is located in Montana instead of Colorado or Utah, you'll rarely have to wait in lift lines. That means more time on the slopes and more bang for you buck.
9. Vail, Colorado
Vail Resort is home to a terrain park featuring 12 runs and three half-pipes, and that's in addition to its 3,300 acres of back-mountain bowls. The après-ski scene is truly world-class, so you can bet the fun won't stop when the lifts do.
10. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
With 3,000 acres of backcountry terrain in addition to the 2,500 acres of groomed trails, riding at Jackson Hole gives you lots of room to spread out. If you're sick of perfectly manicured fun parks, check out this resort's Burton State terrain park, a freestyle riding experience featuring more natural obstacles.