The Top 5 Coolest Places I've SnowboardedPublished on 12/16/2022 · 13 min readDreaming of your next ride? With 13 years of experience, Snowboard expert Jeff R. shares his top five favorite places to snowboard and why he loves them.
Photo by Jeff R.
In my 13 years of snowboarding, I've been to many resorts, including most of the resorts in the Northwest. I love backcountry snowboarding, but my love started with freestyling. I always wanted to go big, but after many crashes and a few years of experience under my belt, the thought of hitting the ground too hard was not as appealing as it once was. So, my love will always lie in surfing powder!
The thought of going to other resorts had always been on my mind; wanting to meet new people, see different terrain, experience different cultures in the ski towns, and, of course, try the beer! I was an explorer by nature and was starting to get excited about exploring the world and seeing the different formats of other resorts in comparison to my home mountain in Idaho.
I took a break, got into some other outdoor activities with a wonderful woman, and we traveled all over. That eventually led to us traveling to as many resorts as we possibly could in the past few years. It has been such an eye-opening and exhilarating experience so far; I just don’t want any of these times to end or be forgotten. You can learn so many things from the people you meet and the environment that you surround yourself with. You really do become a product of your environment.
With that being said, this is where I will go off and tell you where our top five favorite places to ride are, and then I'll explain why! I have a few pictures to go with each resort. The picture above is my favorite place of all-time — Grand Targhee Ski Resort in Alta, Wyoming.
1. Grand Targhee Ski Resort
Number one on this list is the Grand Targhee Ski Resort in Alta, Wyoming. The summit elevation here is 9,862 feet, there are five lifts, and the resort has 2,602 acres of skiable terrain! The base area elevation is 7,851 feet, which gives for a pretty steep vertical drop at 2,270 feet. Above 70% of the runs at the resort are more technical runs, which makes for a great day — especially when it has been dumped on with a grip of powder! The resort also has a pretty awesome terrain park that is always tidy and ready for riders to advance their skill levels on rails, box jumps, and some badass kickers.
This resort has never let me down and is always coming up with amazing new ways to bring things to life. One thing is for certain when showing up at the Ghee — you will never be short of snow! It gets an annual average snowfall of over 500 inches every winter. The picture I included above is a very rare sight to catch of the Grand Tetons, especially during the wintertime!
I think the main thing that sets this resort apart from everywhere else is an area called Mary’s Nipple. It’s a hike-only terrain that often turns into a location for cat skiing (a form of backcountry exploration), and the summit here is 9,920 feet. You can really work on fine-tuning your backcountry skills by working in this area. It is pretty amazing, especially during the January and February months of the season.
This year when we were up there, we got snowed into the parking lot, and the day before got 15 inches of snow. I will say that the whole mountain was incredible! I am sure glad that I brought my flask and radios though because we got separated a couple of times during the day. Visibility was very rough, which unfortunately caused Mary’s Nipple to be closed down for the day, but the rest of the resort was just awesome. The powder was literally up to my nipples on just about 50% of the resort and the lines were not too long. Just pure beauty.
I will say that in the years I’ve been visiting this resort, I have lost out on a couple of days due to road closures on my drive there in the mornings. Note that both roads into the town tend to get drifted over and very icy!
2. Powder Mountain Resort
The Powder Mountain Resort in Eden, Utah, has over 8,464 skiable acres of terrain (the most of any ski resort in the United States). This resort is equipped with nine lifts and 154 different named runs. It also features a couple of terrain parks available to have some fun in as well!
The annual snowfall is “natural snow,” meaning that the resort doesn’t spend much time making its own snow. It relies on the actual winter snowfall for the year and doesn’t use snowmakers. Luckily, the resort gets over 500 inches of 100% natural snow that it calls the “Greatest Snow on Earth,” and it is quite beautiful in the winter for those who have been there to see it at its finest!
The majority of the runs at this resort are intermediate, but the expert terrain covers quite a bit of ground as well. Intermediate runs cover 40% of the resort, and expert runs cover 35% of the terrain, mostly black diamond runs and just a handful of double black diamond runs coming off “Lightning Ridge.” The resort also has some guided expeditions, along with cat skiing and a ski and skin area. I did not get an opportunity to participate in any of the guided expeditions, but I have heard from the locals that the terrain is absolutely amazing! The elevation at the summit of James Peak is 9,422 feet and the total vertical drop is 3,346 feet.
What a beautiful description of a place, right? Well, it really is a winter wonderland and a ski town dream. When you drive into the town of Eden, it is very small, but you can definitely feel the ski-town vibes immediately. There are skiing resorts on both sides of the canyon, and as you drive to Powder Mountain, there are buses going straight to the resort from nearby apartments and condos. It’s really quite beautiful to drive through.
Once you get over the hill, you are just seeing pure beauty all around you! There are several different parking lots at the Powder Mountain Resort, which is pretty unique to be able to drive to the top of its main lift and be able to drop in at any time. Choosing the main parking lot is a very good option as well, especially if you are trying to see as much of the terrain in one day as possible.
The snow really is some of the best snow I’ve ridden on, and it just kept coming down all day! I was able to capture several pictures on this trip, and my GoPro got some good video. Everyone that I came across up here was extremely cool to chat it up with, the food was great, and the brews were definitely not a letdown! I’ve looked into getting a season pass for this resort in the future, but I also have so many options around me that are closer. This is just a beautiful resort and absolutely one of the coolest places I’ve ever snowboarded.
3. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
You cannot write an article on the top five coolest places to snowboard and ski without mentioning Jackson Hole. The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village, Wyoming, is one of the most well-known places in the industry today. The resort has a summit elevation of 10,450 feet, a vertical drop of 4,139 feet, and an uphill capacity of 17,833 skiers per hour. That is CRAZY! I will say that every time I go here, I never end up seeing any of the pros who I expect because of the sheer amount of skiers and snowboarders who go there every day.
The resort has 133 named runs on the map and 13 total lifts, including one 100-passenger Aerial Tram (known as “Big Red”) and two eight-passenger gondolas. At least 50% of the runs at this resort are expert. The resort also has an open backcountry gate system that accesses more than 3,000 acres of backcountry terrain to ride; it has some incredible terrain to shred up! From cliff drops, to the terrain park, to the bunny hill, the resort is very thorough with how everything is treated in the offseason when preparing to go into the winter to make for safe, fun winter laps.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is just down the road from the Grand Targhee Ski Resort and they both get quite a bit of annual snowfall. Jackson Hole averages about 459 inches of snow and it also has 195 acres of snowmaking coverage at the resort to keep up with the traffic when the snow is not falling!
One of the coolest things about this resort is that there are two terrain parks (one expert, one beginner) for both skiers and snowboarders. Jackson Hole is home to the only Burton Stash Parks in the Rockies. These four Burton Stash Parks are located all over the mountain. They mix up the natural terrain features with local wood and all of the creative elements the mountain has to offer. By using what’s already around, the stash has more impact on your riding and less impact on the environment. You can see “Stash Icons” on the trail map and find your favorite one to hit up! Every year, the resort also holds an event called “Kings and Queens of Corbets.” This event is absolutely incredible to watch, especially if you’ve dove into the Couloir. Several big names in both the ski and snowboarding industry have had multiple competitors in this event!
I’ve had the opportunity to visit this resort on a POW day with a white-out as well as a bluebird groomer day, both were very good occasions. I have really started to grow fond of this place; there are so many great places to grab a drink or a bite to eat or to simply flip the switch, bringing your own and skinning into the backcountry around the territory. The amount of backcountry in this area that is worth skinning into is really an unfair question to try and ask someone. I have spent most of my life trying to stay away from one of the closest places to home for me that there is, but it is very hard to do when it’s in my own backyard!
4. Pebble Creek Ski Area
The next resort on the list is the Pebble Creek Ski Area in Inkom, Idaho. Here, there are 1,100 acres of skiable terrain with a summit elevation of 9,271 feet and a vertical drop of 2,200 feet. The average snowfall here is 350 inches a season; it might not seem like much comparatively, but when you see the resort’s setup, it really makes sense how great the snow turns out here!
It is not a very big ski resort, as it only has three lifts and 51 named runs, but it does have two terrain parks. The terrain is very technical here, especially after a night’s worth of snow dumping on top of things. I have surfed the good POW that this mountain has to offer, and it has treated me very well. The majority of this mountain is for technical skiing and snowboarding, with 41% being black diamond, 36% being intermediate, and only 19% being for beginners. There are a couple of double black diamonds here as well.
I will say that if you ride the main lift to the top of the mountain, you will find no easy way down. All runs are pretty technical here, and even the cat tracks can be tricky. They say if you can ski the Rock, you can ski anywhere! I believe that to be true. It is a mountain that tightens up your technical skills in riding, but it also has some of the best POW when you hit it on the right day. Some of the best skiers and snowboarders have learned on this mountain; it is definitely extreme.
I have also had the opportunity to explore the backcountry here as well. Skinning to the backside of this mountain can be one of the most fruitful things to do because the snow is absolutely beautiful and everlasting. This mountain is most definitely a hidden gem, especially if you are into backcountry riding and want technical runs! I can’t forget to mention the Rock Bottom Saloon for a good brew during lunchtime. All the beer here is from surrounding areas and local breweries. This is one of the coolest places I’ve ever snowboarded.
5. Beaver Mountain
The last resort I’m mentioning is Beaver Mountain in Logan, Utah. There are 828 acres of skiable terrain at this lodge. It has six lifts and 48 named runs, with most of them being intermediate. The ski area also has a terrain park that is pretty rad, it has just about everything you could ask for except a half pipe! The mountain gets over 400 inches of snow every season to maintain a very active park. This is another park that chooses not to make snow; all of its snow is natural snow. The summit elevation is at Harry’s Dream at 8,860 feet, with a vertical drop of 1,700 feet.
This lodge is the longest continuously-run, family-owned ski lodge in the United States today! Run by the Seeholzer family since 1939, you can definitely feel the warm family atmosphere that this place has to provide. Everyone here chooses to be very open, friendly, and courteous, and they make you feel welcome! The only downside, which is also an upside for your pocketbook, is you have to bring your own beer. They have no problem with you doing so, but it is not sold at the lodge. I, however, am a man of simple taste. I love filling up my flask with a little Gentleman Jack and going about my day. Some people just fill up the cooler or just go up and have a good time with their family and loved ones!
There is a lot I like about this mountain, it has so many different opportunities and playgrounds to play on! The terrain park is always a fun place to get to show off what you have. All around this mountain are different obstacles to choose—you have moguls on one side and groomers through a lot of the mountain. The powder when it lays on this mountain is absolutely incredible, and the technical parts of the mountain are not all together but fairly close. The lines do tend to get a little long on the weekends, but they move quickly, so it really is not as bad as it seems.
The reason I chose this mountain for this article is because of its uniqueness and the love that it shows its community and that the community shows in return! This lodge has the thing that almost every resort lacks, and that is being unique and showing supporters the love and admiration that they have for the mountain. The gift shop has some of the coolest things to buy as well, I have bought a beaver for every board that I've ridden on that mountain!
These are just five of my current favorite snowboarding hotspots at the moment, but I'm always seeking out new and fun territory to adventure in. I'll always be going to new resorts or different parts in the backcountry to share my experiences with everyone. For everyone interested in talking with me or anyone of our Snowboard Experts here at Curated, we are here at any time of any day!