If these were the seventies, by this time in November you’d be putting on your astrakhan hat and getting ready for snurfing. But it’s 2011 and bell-bottomed trousers are no longer in fashion… Snowboarding still is though, even if we call it differently! Below you have this winter’s top 10 snowboarding resorts and destinations, as picked by a proper snowboard enthusiast who knows how to do her research. So put on your gear and head to the slopes – it’s time to surf some snow!
If you want to book a snowboarding holiday to any of these destinations then check out Crystal Ski and Snowboard.
1. Mammoth Mountain, California
Mammoth Mountain is a large ski resort located in Eastern California, along the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It’s known for two things: cheap accommodation and Shaun White. Its world-class parks are exceptionally well maintained, with superpipes, minipipes and one of the few Super-Duper pipes in the world! This is what makes Mammoth Number 1 among the top snowboarding resorts in the world, as well as an excellent location for freestyle riding. And it’s also why top snowboarders such as two-time Winter Olympics gold medalist Shaun White comes to practice here.
2. Whistler Blackcomb, Canada
Whistler Blackcomb is located 125 km north of Vancouver, in British Columbia, Canada. Hailed as the largest resort in North America, it’s simply a place where everything happens: snowboard schools for kids and adults, fresh tracks for early risers, backcountry and cross-country snowboarding. Probably best known for its record-breaking peak-2-peak gondola, this location offers 4.4 kilometres of majestic landscape, from Whistler to the Blackcomb mountain peak. Not only that, but it also has a remarkably high vertical ski slope (a total vertical drop of 1530 metres), and the more adventurous boarders can enjoy the altitude through a memorable heli-boarding experience.
3. Banff, Canada
The town that links three resorts – Lake Louise, Norquay and Sunshine Village – is a must for riders of all levels. Beautifully located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and 36 miles east of Lake Louise, Banff offers majestic mountains and vast terrains, ranging from gentle beginner slopes to adrenaline-raising double black diamond runs. Norquay is the nearest resort to Banff and takes 10 minutes by bus; Sunshine is 25 minutes away from Banff, while Lake Louise is 32 miles away and takes 45 minutes. Sunshine Village offers the possibility to snowboard in two provinces – Alberta and British Columbia – in one run. Mt. Norquay is a very affordable resort, and Lake Louise is probably Banff’s most popular destination. These three resorts make up for an unforgettable ride across a breathtaking scenery of Canadian wilderness.
4. Chamonix, France
With plenty of tree runs and amazing off-piste, Chamonix is by far the most renown snowboarding resort among freeriders worldwide. Although not great for beginners or intermediates, this location is most suited for expert boarders who are willing to try all-mountain riding. It’s slightly more expensive than other european resorts, but Chamonix offers a wide choice as it unites five resorts in one valley. The wild, steep terrain and the rough and rugged slopes make it a must for experienced freeriders, who can also enjoy a great view over Mont Blanc as they ride downhill.
5. St. Anton, Austria
St. Anton is situated at 1,304 metres above sea level in the Tyrolean Alps, with aerial tramways and chairlifts up to 2,811 metres. Known as the best austrian resort for freeriders, St. Anton boasts an amazing yet accesible off-piste, besides deep-snow runs and testing slopes. It is part of the Arlberg alliance of ski resorts and it offers expert terrain (including groomed ski routes such as Schindlerkar and Mattun), amazing views at the top of the Valluga lift and chill-out areas such as Rendl, where boarders hang out after a challenging day.
6. Verbier, Switzerland
A freerider’s paradise, Verbier boasts some of the best extreme terrain in the world. With loads of pistes (410 km of runs) and great infrastructure (89 lifts covered by a single lift pass), the Four Valleys ski area (Les 4 Vallées) links Verbier with La Tzoumaz and Bruson, as well as Nendaz, Veysonnaz and Thyon. While Verbier offers some exciting double black runs, Nendaz is great for easyriding beginners thus making the valley well-suited for boarders of all levels.
7. Les Arcs, France
Located in Savoie, France, Les Arcs is part of the enormous Paradiski system and is known as one of the classic French mega-resorts. The five areas that make up Les Arcs —Bourg-Saint-Maurice, Arc 1600, Arc 1800, Arc 1950 and Arc 2000— are situated at an altitude spanning from 810 to 3225 metres. The ski and snowboarding area consists of 106 runs, 54 lifts and 200 kilometres of descent. The highest peak in the resort is the Aiguille Rouge from where there is a 7 km long piste with 2026 metres in vertical drop down to the Village Villaroger. Les Arcs benefits from varied pistes, world-class terrain and 200 kilometres of descent. The Paradiski links with La Plagne and Peisey-Vallandry thus further broadening Bourg’s reach for snowboarders.
8. Livigno, Italy
Although less known, this lovely location is actually one of the largest and highest ski areas in the region with an altitude of 1,800 m and the highest lift being at 3000m. Livigno is set along three villages spread out across three miles of road. This resort is perfect for intermediate boarding, as it has a vibrant snowboard scene and isn’t very crowded. Its terrain is just ripe for exploration and the funpark is very well-groomed. If all that isn’t enough, add the fact that due to a historical law the resort is a duty free area, thus making it one of the top snowboarding resorts for budget travellers.
9. Ruka, Finland
With a reputation for being one of the most snow-secure resorts in the world, Ruka offers everything one can expect from a beautiful resort in the Arctic Circle. The boarding here is by no means challenging but its gentle, rounded slopes are great for beginners. Ruka’s slopes are sheltered and illuminated and the snow is exceptionally soft and powdery. This location also takes pride in its two well-maintained parks, the Vuosseli SuperPipe and the BatteryPark, as well as in the expertise of their ski and snowboard instructors. All of these fantastic offerings make Ruka Finland’s top resort, and an up-and-coming top location for riders worldwide.
10. Niseko, Japan
Although not a very spectacular location, Niseko United was ranked by Forbes magazine as the second snowiest resort in the world. Open from 8.30 am to 8.30 pm, this location displays two funparks, a railpark and boasts perfect light powder due to its ideal arctic climate. Niseko United links four resorts on one mountain (Niseko Annupuri, Niseko Village, Niseko Grand Hirafu and Niseko Hanazono). Part of the Niseko-Shakotan National Park, Niseko United has a rich variety of terrain and beautiful wintery woods that offer a unique experience for beginners as well as adventurous riders. Hanazano displays the widest range of choice for freeride and terrain parks, while Nisseko Annupuri offers long, wide slopes for easyriding.
- The Ten Best Snowboarding destinations in Austria
- The Top 10 Snowboarding Resorts in France
- Snowboarding Italy: The 10 best winter holiday destinations
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