Insider's Guide to Snowboarding Grand County
Just 90 minutes outside of Denver, snowboarders find a certain kind of nirvana in the slopes of Grand County. At Winter Park Resort, seven distinct areas of terrain offer the full gamut of options, from deep stashes of untouched powder to long and wide groomers to several terrain parks scattered across the slopes. Meanwhile, down the valley a bit, riders can find a completely different experience at Ski Granby Ranch, where two mountains of terrain and short lift rides ensure a full day of shredding. Finally, for expert snowboarders with advanced backcountry experience — and all the right safety gear — Berthoud Pass presents one of the most accessible and formidable challenges in the country. Below, we've broken down the experience into distinct interests, and offered up some terrain suggestions for each.
Interested in Carving Powder
With its geographical position set snug against the Continental Divide, Grand County sees a lot of pow each winter. It's as though the great divide scrapes all the moisture from passing weather systems and leaves it for skiers and riders to delight in. As a result, snowboarders in-the-know see our resorts as the perfect place to chase their powder dreams.
Winter Park receives an average of more than 29 feet of snow annually, so "powder days" are usually just called "days." For the best stashes, head to Parsenn Bowl on the Panoramic Express and dig in for runs down blue/black terrain such as Willett's Way and Calypso. Certain sections of the gladed Bellmar Bowl and Wildwood Glade can yield excellent powder for intermediate riders as well. Expert riders can traverse from atop Parsenn Bowl into The Cirque or Eagle Wind for a more backcountry-style experience.
Over at Ski Granby Ranch, powder stashes can stay preserved for days after a big storm, especially in Dean's Glade and the gladed terrain off Bounty Hunter on the West Mountain.
Interested in Terrain Parks
Of course, you might just be in the mood for rails, boxes, jumps and pipes. In which case, both mountain resorts have you amply covered. Winter Park Resort has unveiled several terrain park features over the last 10 years, making it one of the premier freestyle mountains in the country. Here, the headliner is the Rail Yard, located next to the central blue groomer known as Cranmer. At the Rail Yard, you'll find Winter Park's superpipe as well as several jibbable features ideal for advanced riders. The park's layout frequently changes, giving repeat riders endless fun. For intermediate riders, head to Ash Cat (just off the Prospector Express Lift) or Re-Railer (below the Eskimo Express Lift). Kids can earn their stripes at the base with the Bouncer and Starter Parks, too. Ski Granby Ranch also gets in on the terrain park action with Mini Ballroom and its main park, Rough Stock. Both of these parks have the added bonus for being open at night. Progress to Bronc Rider or Woody's for medium boxes and jobs, before tackling the expert log jibs at Ted's Secret Stash.
Interested in Groomers
If you are more the mellow sort, then take note: there's no short supply of groomers at either Ski Granby Ranch or Winter Park Resort. Ski Granby Ranch's East Mountain is covered with great top-to-bottom greens and blues. You could spend the better part of a day threading together one connecting route after another without any repeats.
At Winter Park Resort, start your day with a first run on Butch's Breezeway to get the blood flowing, then head over to Vasquez Ridge and its plethora of uncrowded blue groomers and hidden powder stashes. Next, traverse over to the High Lonesome Express and dive into the Mary Jane section of the resort, where Mary Jane and Sleeper offer great groomed stretches on blue/black-graded terrain.