Finding a great winter retreat is a cinch for those who’ve been hitting the slopes their whole lives. Beginners don’t have quite as many options, though, particularly for snowboarding. The sport is often considered more difficult to pick up than skiing, which means you really need to select carefully when deciding where you want to learn.
When it comes to finding an ideal spot, going for something a little less popular is the best bet because you’re going to need space to work and, let’s be honest, fall. You also need to go for resorts that offer a decent selection of beginner slopes. These six resorts are among the best, so book your trip while the weather’s still chilly.
1. Whistler Blackcomb (British Columbia, Canada)
Located 2 miles north of Vancouver, Whistler Blackcomb encompasses more than 8,000 acres. Such impressive size means there are plenty of trails for every skill level, including complete beginners. Most resorts confine beginners to one geographic area on the mountain, but that’s not the case here. According to Whitelines, nearly the entire mountain is accessible via beginner slopes.
You can choose between group or individual classes to get started. Want to learn from the best? If you’re willing to shell out $950, you can score a private lesson with an Olympic snowboarder.
2. Mt. Bachelor (Bend, Ore.)
Some beginner snowboard programs assume participants have at least some experience, which isn’t helpful for those who are complete newcomers. You won’t have to worry about this if you opt for Mt. Bachelor’s Ski Or Ride In 5 program. These lessons are designed for those who have absolutely no experience. The idea is to dedicate yourself to five lessons, each lasting two hours. The program is only $200, and you’ll score a free 12-day pass after successfully completing all the lessons.
3. Beaver Creek Resort (Beaver Creek, Colo.)
It’s no surprise to have a ski destination in Colorado in this lineup. Instead of going for one of the biggest or most popular resorts, go for beginner-friendly Beaver Creek. It’s less crowded than hot spots like Vail and features some great lesson plans. Since the best way to get comfortable on the board is by practicing, opt for the 3-day immersive program designed for adults. It’s designed for those who have no experience and runs all day. It also doesn’t hurt that the resort offers freshly-baked cookies at 3 p.m. every day.
4. Camelback Mountain Resort (Tannersville, Pa.)
Beginners usually end up spending most of their time on the bunny hill while they learn basic skills. The problem with this traditional method is it doesn’t really prepare you for hitting the slopes on an actual run, which may have rougher terrain, jumps, and other obstacles. Camelback’s Terrain Based Learning Program was designed to get riders ready for the real thing by teaching specific skills that will help you progress much more quickly.
Like many resorts, you can choose between group and private lessons. Unlike most resorts, though, you can decide if you’d rather receive instruction during the day or night. The park is fully lit once the sun sets and stays open until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
5. Mammoth Mountain (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.)
Let’s say you’re not a complete newcomer to snowboarding, but you really want to get into shredding some half-pipes or hitting the jumps. Mammoth Mountain offers a program designed to teach the basics of jumping and other tricks. And no worries if that’s out of your league because there are packages for complete beginners as well. Whichever route you take, be sure to book in advance because lessons tend to sell out pretty quickly.
6. Cervinia, Italy
Like the less expensive version of Zermatt, Cervinia is a perfect destination for those looking to learn. The Telegraph said it’s filled with gentle slopes that are perfect for beginners. In addition to the standard group and private lessons, you’ll find opportunities to get acquainted with freeriding and hitting the backcountry slopes. This is also a great choice for those who tend to procrastinate when planning vacations because most of the slopes remain open until the beginning of May.