But beyond just numbers, what really sets snowboarders apart in a kooked-out league of their own is their entire essence and vibe. Younger, louder, more outlandish, dare we say more fun(?), snowboarders bring a kind of cultish irreverence, meets Peter Pan positivity, to the mountain. It’s part surf culture, part skate. Part shaka, part punk. All parts “here for a good time.”
And while some traditionalist mountains might scoff at—or even outright ban—snowboarders, other resorts clearly understand the value they bring and cater to their every powder day whim and fancy. We’re talking glorious terrain, maximum vert, minimal moguls, plenty of pow, and some downright bumping aprés scenes. So, without further ado—behold! Some of the country’s premier mountain resorts for the plank of heart.
Mammoth Mountain | California
Southern California is no slouch in the snowboarding department. And nowhere does this ring more true than Mammoth Mountain(Opens in a new window)—the mack daddy of Sierra Nevada snowboarding. Heck, this resort is where a certain Sean White himself cut his teeth (among other San Bernadino resorts like Snow Summit and Bear Mountain). If “The Flying Tomato” says it’s good, you know it’s good.
In terms of what makes it so good? There’s some solid vert (with a summit elevation of 11,053 feet and 3100 feet in vertical drop). It has a longggg winter season from November into May. There are some seriously epic snowstorms that can dump 5 feet faster than you can say “sicky gnar gnar.” Yet despite how much it snows, this place is the Land of Bluebird Days with 300 days of sunshine a year. For boarders of a terrain park persuasion, Mammoth Mountain delivers the goods with no less than 10 unique parks, 2 halfpipes, 100+ jibs, and up to 40 jumps on any given day covering over 100 acres of terrain.
Big Sky | Montana
Whoever said “Everything’s bigger in Texas” clearly never snowboarded in Big Sky(Opens in a new window). This place is truly legendary. It’s the land of big mountains, big views, and big-time adrenaline rushes. Honestly, the sheer size and scope of the terrain can’t be stressed enough. This place is enormous. Big and wide open. With humongous off-piste runs and a tremendous amount of terrain to explore. (Can you tell we’re running out of “big” synonyms?)
Plus, because it’s so secluded and difficult to reach (as in, the closest airport is an hour’s drive), the lift lines here are notoriously short. It’s almost eerie how deserted the mountain can feel sometimes. Of course, the flip side of this seclusion means the apres scene isn’t as thriving as other more polished ski towns. But apres isn’t what you come here for. You come here for challenging backcountry, stunning backdrops, untouched runs, burly descents, and yep—big everything.
Powder Mountain | Utah
Unflashy, uncrowded, unbelievable snow—these are just a few reasons Utah’s Powder Mountain(Opens in a new window) is the underrated resort every snowboarder needs to have on their boarding bucket list. While not the biggest mountain by any stretch, what makes Powder so special is, well… the powder. There's so much terrain and so few people that you can find fresh snow for days, sometimes even a week or more, after a storm.
The tree riding and in-bounds touring at “PowMow” is as good as it gets. If you have touring gear, certain sections of the mountain—like Lefty's Canyon, Raintree, and Lightning Ridge—frequently keep pristine pockets of untouched snow.
But best of all? Powder Mountain limits lift tickets to 1,500 a day. So, you can say so long to lift lines and hello to empty powder stashes.
Vail Resort | Colorado
When snowboarders think of Vail(Opens in a new window), they think of massive back bowls. Of course, Vail is much more than these bowls. It’s the fourth biggest resort in the US. It’s got 275 trails, ranging from ripping groomers to gentle slopes. The amenities are five-star. And the diversity of terrain caters to riders of all abilities.
But the back bowls…oh man, those Back Bowls. Truly marvelous things. Encompassing 3,017 acres (more than most ski areas in their entirety), what Vail’s Back Bowls offer in terms of sheer size is a feat of its own. But beyond vastness, these things are just downright fun. We’re no anthropologists, but it wouldn’t surprise us one bit to learn that Vail’s Back Bowls are where “adrenaline” first originated in humans. From China to Mongolia, Sun Up to Sun Down, the no-holds-barred terrain here is in a league of its own. For advanced snowboarders who can handle bumpy riding, this place is a true mecca for deep snow, open spaces, stunning views, and rip-roaring descents.
Copper Mountain | Colorado
Anywhere there’s a Woodward Terrain Park(Opens in a new window) will draw a great snowboard culture. And Copper Mountain(Opens in a new window) duly delivers on both. Perched in Summit County, this place has a little bit of everything: fun trees, big bowls, plenty of groomers, incredible variety for riders of all abilities, and yep—one of the best terrain parks in the country.
The mountain is naturally (and conveniently) divided into progressively more difficult thirds (greens, blues, and blacks), which means riders can stick to what they’re comfortable with.But more importantly, it means very little traversing! At Copper, you can stick to your “zone” with minimal traffic, minimal flats, and lots of great tailor-made runs.
Palisades Tahoe | California
If it’s dumping, Palisades(Opens in a new window) is a snowboarder's paradise—and it’s frequently dumping, averaging about 400 inches of snowfall every winter. Located on the shores of beautiful North Lake Tahoe, you can’t argue with the scenery of Palisades. And if you attempt to argue with the terrain, you’ll inevitably lose. This place is dynamism personified (err, slopes-onified?). As in, Palisades has everything: 3,600 acres, 170 pistes, 4 terrain parks, 2 half-pipes, backcountry, side-country, trees, and groomers.
With wide-open bowls, miles of groomed trails, world-renowned steeps, and a breathtaking amount of variety for riders of all abilities, Palisades isn’t just California’s largest resort… it’s one of the country’s finest.
Steamboat Mountain | Colorado
They may call Steamboat Springs “Ski Town, USA” but they could just as easily call it “Snowboard Town.” Okay true, it might not roll off the tongue as easily, but the point still stands—the snowboarding in Steamboat is as good as it gets.
In terms of terrain, Steamboat boasts over 2,900 acres of prime snowboarding real estate, including 165 named trails and plenty of off-piste areas. What brings skiers to Steamboat is the bountiful tree skiing. What brings snowboarders here… funnily enough, also the tree skiing. True, trees aren’t typically a huge draw for most riders. But in Steamboat, the aspens and pines beckon with irresistible glades. The areas of Sunshine and Storm Peaks, in particular, are padded with glorious pockets of “champagne powder” and threaded with perfectly spaced-out trees far enough apart to be enjoyed by snowboarders even of a “let-it-rip” persuasion.
Hit up TBar(Opens in a new window) for an iconically old-school apres vibe right at the base of the mountain. And if you're feeling adventurous, take a trip and a dip in Strawberry Hot Springs(Opens in a new window)—a perfect way to soothe those sore muscles.
In sum, if you’re looking for a killer snowboarding destination, then these resorts deliver the goods in spades (and glades). They’re certainly not the end-all-be-all, and everyone has their personal preferences when it comes to defining what makes a mountain great. But we’d happily throw these seven heavy-weight contenders into the ring every time.