Ten years ago, snowboarding was dismissed as a fad. But snowboarders made up nearly half the winter resort-going population in the West last season, including more and more "grays on trays"—riders over age 30, in snowboarderspeak. Some of the sweetest spots are listed below.
Alpine Meadows Tahoe City, Calif. Impressive backcountry terrain makes this North Lake Tahoe resort a locals' favorite, complete with stunning lake views. Also, a high base elevation (6,840 feet) means drier powder and fewer soggy days. (800) 441-4423,www.skialpine.com.
The Canyons Park City, Utah. Encompassing eight mountains, Utah's largest resort was the first Park City ski area to allow snowboarding. It's still snowboard friendly, with an award-winning terrain park spanning 16 acres that includes a slew of tabletop jumps. (435) 649-5400, www.thecanyons.com.
Kirkwood Kirkwood, Calif. With four terrain parks to choose from, riders are sure to find a freestyle spot to fit their fancy—from mellow jumps for beginners to the 30-foot rainbow rail for the seriously stouthearted. And the powder is bound to be fresh and fluffy. (209) 258-6000, www.kirkwood.com.
Mammoth Mountain Mammoth Lakes, Calif. No mountain lives up to its name better. If the sight of the 600-foot-long, 22-foot-tall Super-Duper Pipe causes you to quake in your snowboard boots, try the smaller pipe in Canyon Park. (800) 626-6684, www.mammothmountain.com.
Mount Bachelor Bend, Ore. This sleeping volcano is blessed with 350 inches of snowfall each year. On sunny days, when the winds aren't roaring, the treeless summit (9,065 feet) is open for business. This season the mile-long Air Chamber terrain park includes new funboxes, rails, and a wallride hit. (800) 829-2442, www.mtbachelor.com.
Park City Mountain Resort Park City, Utah. If it was good enough for the 2002 Olympic Games, it's good enough for the rest of us. Take advantage of the world-class upgrades, including the Eagle Superpipe and the fastest lift system in the West. (800) 222-7275,www.parkcitymountain.com.
Squaw Valley Olympic Valley, Calif. Squaw's 4,000 rideable acres will make even the most jaded snowboarders feel like they've hit the snow-shredding jackpot. Stay out late and ride under the stars on the illuminated 3.2-mile Mountain Run, open until 9 p.m. (530) 583-6985, www.squaw.com.
Whistler Blackcomb Whistler, British Columbia. These joined mountains combine epic riding and endless runs (the longest on each mountain is seven miles) with a vibrant village scene worth checking out once the lifts stop running. Take the short hike into Blackcomb Glacier, a wide-open slope that's flanked by craggy cliffs and steep chutes practically made for carving. And, with the exchange rate favoring the American dollar, Whistler's a steal. (800) 766-0449, www.whistlerblackcomb.com.
Mount Hood Meadows Mount Hood, Ore. Bust airs in the brand-new inground superpipe—it's lit for night riding and opens early in the season since it requires less snow. Meadows' three freestyle playgrounds also rule, with tabletop jumps, rails, and boxes to suit all skill levels. There's a snowskate park (for skateboards without wheels), too. (800) 754-4663,www.skihood.com.
Schweitzer Sandpoint, Idaho. This gem of a resort spans 2,500 acres of open bowls and spacious slopes. Hop on Idaho's only high-speed, six-person chairlift and reach the ridgetop in just over five minutes. (800) 831-8810, www.schweitzer.com.
Photography by Nathan Kendall/courtesy of Squaw Valley Ski Corp.
This article was first published in November 2003. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.