It’s finally slope season in America and Canada, so time to dust off those duffels and pack them full send mode with lift-ready ski jackets, pants and gloves. Ready to hit some of the most epic snowboarding runs along the West Coast of North America? From Whistler in Canada to Big Bear Lake in California, these resorts will keep powder hounds satisfied through the 2022-23 season.
1. Whistler Blackcomb
Consistently hailed as one of the planet’s top resorts, Whistler Blackcomb’s legendary peaks offer such an amplitude of runs that you’d need a week to cover its acres of diverse terrain. Plus, it has one of the longest ride seasons anywhere. This season, for example, the resort expects to remain open through the end of May 2023, depending on conditions. A two-time Guinness World Record gondola connects the resorts two mountains – Whistler and Blackcomb. Sailing 435 metres above the valley floor, the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola is the world’s highest lift of its kind and the world’s longest unsupported span for a lift of its kind at 3.03 kilometres long, hence the two World Records.
Whistler, Canada (1 hour 45 minutes from Vancouver airport)
2. Crystal Mountain Resort
Hitting the slopes with the highest volcanic peak in the US as your backdrop? Now that’s a bucket list experience. In the Pacific Northwest, carving trails doesn’t get any better than at Crystal Mountain Resort where views of Mount Rainier and the beautiful Cascade Range create Washington state’s most scenic terrain. And it’s just 90 minutes outside of Seattle. After a day on the mountain, dine at Summit House to experience Washington’s most highly elevated restaurant. Transport via the Mount Rainier Gondola is included for season pass and lift ticket holders. From there, you can also spy the Northwest’s other famous volcanic peaks.
Crystal Mountain, Washington (1.5 hours from Seattle)
3. Summit at Snoqualmie
Go from the city to the slopes in under an hour! Just 80 kilometres from downtown, Seattle’s closest ski resort, Summit at Snoqualmie, may be Western Washington’s most modest mountain, but its convenient location in the Cascade Range isn’t the only thing that makes it great. Comprised of four mountains – Summit West, Summit Central, Summit East and Alpental – its all-levels terrain traverses not only back country tree runs for the more advanced, but also bunny slopes for beginners. There’s even a designated tubing area. The night skiing operation at Snoqualmie scores bragging points as well. During peak seasons, runs remain open until 10pm six nights a week.
Snoqualmie Pass, Washington (50 minutes from Seattle)
4. Heavenly Ski Resort
Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe delivers on what its name implies – a truly divine ski experience. Spanning California and Nevada, this perfectly positioned resort provides awe-inspiring views of the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Its 4,800 skiable acres make prime powder conditions, especially for intermediates. On the California side of the resort, the gondolas ride straight up into the lodge from the center of Heavenly Village in the town of South Lake Tahoe. The resort’s newly upgraded EpicMix app now provides up-to-the-minute lift line forecasts, so you can plan your runs based on the shortest wait times.
Lake Tahoe, CA (3.5 hours from San Francisco International Airport [SFO])
5. Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort
Ready for some serious snowboarding in the West Coast? At 3,369 meters, Mammoth Mountain is the highest ski resort in California. Its longest run, Road Runner, stretches for just under five kilometres along the backside of the mountain to the main lodge. For serious powder hounds, the Unbound Terrain Parks can’t be missed. Comprised of ten parks from Wonderland and Forest Trail to the Hemlocks, this freestyler’s playground spans 100 acres, enough landscape to spend an entire day attempting its 50 jumps, two halfpipes, and endless snow features. There’s more to Mammoth than extremes, though. While the resort does attract the pros, its diverse terrain leaves plenty of safe space for people of all skill levels, even beginners. In typical California style, it receives an average of 300 sunny days per year, making for great conditions – it’s also typically the first resort to open and the last one to close.
Mammoth, CA (5 hours from either SFO or Los Angeles International Airport [LAX])
6. Big Bear Mountain Resort
Hitting the slopes doesn’t always mean go big or go home. Sometimes you want a more manageable snowboarding experience and this is exactly what makes Big Bear Mountain Resort in the West Coast so great. Skiers and snowboarders alike will find it the quainter cousin of top West Coast resorts that offer almost too much space to cover. Big Bear Mountain’s twin properties, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain, offer a free shuttle service so guests can spend the day hopping between the two parks. With expansive beginner areas, it’s a great place to bring the family for a weekend cabin stay that isn’t far from Los Angeles airport.
Big Bear Lake, CA (2.5 hours from LAX)