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The Top 10 Places to Snowboard

By Cliff Montgomery,
For many snowboarders, spring is the best time. In spring, crisp snow softens into bright mid-morning corn snow, goggles are swapped for sun glasses, temperatures are kind and quitting early for sunny après-ski is part of the fun.

Following are 10 resorts often named by the best snowboarders as being the cream of the crop, especially from Memorial Day to about July.

These resorts have high altitude, steep slopes, northern exposure, and massive snow packs or glaciers which last through the spring and sometimes into the summer months, providing plenty of snowboarding. Some of these resorts in fact record their best-snow-laden months in March or April.

Lake Tahoe, California

Tahoe resorts present wonderful snowboarding. Kirkwood is possibly the best with the highest altitude; it is an extraordinary place which could easily be considered the largest natural snowboard park in the U.S. The altitude, wide open bowls, arcing ridge line and long gullies accommodate steep chutes, crisp corduroy trails, hair-raising cliff drops and huge wind lips.

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are also renowned for their excellent spring exposures.

Sugarloaf, Maine

This mountain is thought the best overall riders' mountain in New England. The elevation is more than 4,000 feet, the exposure slows the melt, nights are frosty and April is historically the second most-snow-laden month of the ski season. Reggae Weekend, in mid-April, is one of the East's biggest snowboarding parties. However, the mountain usually closes in late April--not for lack of snow, but too few riders.

Snowbird, Utah

Snowbird is a mythically enormous, double black-diamond behemoth. The resort has the maximum altitude of any Utah retreat and the north-facing slopes keep wonderful surfaces, even though the area gets warm. The most insistent queues are for the Tram, which takes 125 die-hard powder freaks to 11,000 feet in eight minutes. Once there, it's a frantic rush to strap in quickly and score freshies.

Summit County, Colorado

This fine county claims the highest altitude resorts in the state. Of the three major resorts, Copper Mountain has the best territory and exposure for the late season. Neighboring Arapahoe Basin is a spring legend. Snow stays on the steep Palivaccini long into the summer; some Aprils have four feet of snow, and May sometimes adds another two to three feet of powder. The scene at the base area is amazing, with hundreds of riders enjoying tailgate parties. Close-by Loveland is a springtime contender too.

Whistler/Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada

This region, particularly the upper slopes, ordinarily makes it almost to Memorial Day. Blackcomb's big bowls and the glacier make this a wonderful place to enjoy riding in the sun. The slopes into the village can acquire very deep slush, even in spring. From the summit of Whistler Mountain's high snowcapped Peak Chair to Blackcomb Mountain's Horseman T-bar, the choices are mind-boggling: 200-plus trails, three glaciers, and 12 bowls, in addition to tons of wind lips, cornices, boulders and hundreds of acres of trees " all combined with the largest vertical drop in North America.

Mammoth Mountain, California

Without a doubt one of the kings of spring riding. This area has excellent weather for spring snow -- freezing at night, but warm during the day. The altitude changes between 8,000 and 11,000 feet. A few of the lower lifts may close, but the upper mountain remains open.

Stevens Pass, Washington

Stevens Pass is divided into two areas: a front side, wooded with steeps off ‘Big Chief' and ‘Cowboy' Mountains; and a backside Mill Valley area, which has some wide-open regions with hidden groves of trees and a perpetual fall-line. The splendid view from the peak of Stevens' Big Chief Mountain is equalled by topography that offers some serious double diamond trails, open fields, and pockets of wicked tree riding.

Sunshine Village, Banff, Alberta, Canada

This resort is famed for its snow. It has no snowmaking--nature continually provides an enormous bounty of the white stuff. And Sunshine keeps its snow remarkably well through the late season. The resort is by itself at the top of a gondola, but Banff's bistros and nightlife are only a short trip from the base.

Killington, Vermont

This has normally been the first-to-open and the last-to-close resort in New England for decades. It maintains its snow better than any other northeastern resort. The late season ground is indeed more limited than at peak, but the verticals remain daunting. Killington, familiar for partying during the cool harsh midwinter, really goes hell mad in the spring.

Crested Butte, Colorado

Crested Butte kicks ass. It's steep, ungroomed, and packed tight with cliff jumps and radical tree runs. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hid out here in 1902, and not much has changed since.

The Butte is the location of the U.S. Extremes for both boarding and skiing, and is unreal after a dump.

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