3 Ski Resorts That Don’t Allow Snowboarding (And Why!)

by Fraser
Updated:

Thanks to the groundbreaking work of some of snowboarding’s most influential figures, most ski resorts now accept snowboarders. 

But there are still 3 ski resorts in America living in the past. Fearing change. Shunning poor, misunderstood snowboarders. 

Here are the 3 ski resorts that don’t allow snowboarding:

  1. Alta Ski Resort, Salt Lake County, Utah
  2. Deer Valley, Park City, Utah
  3. Mad River Glen, Vermont

In this article, I will talk about these snowboard-intolerant resorts and why they refuse to let us play. Some of their reason’s for banning us might surprise you!

Ski Resorts That Don't Allow Snowboarding

Skiing is historically a middle class venture, allowing rich folk to network, conspire and presumably, laugh at our expense. 

When snowboarding arrived on the scene, an army of unruly, rebellious teens began turning up at ski resorts. 

This terrified skiers. 

“What if those dirty youths were to touch my mink coat?”

Thankfully, most resorts have since grown to love accept us. But some resorts have chosen to instead cling to their elitist roots. 

Alta perfectly embodies this…

1. Alta Ski Resort, Utah

The Alta Ski Area is one of the only three resorts in North America to still ban snowboarding.

Believe it or not, mono-skiing is still allowedIt’s only when you’re standing sideways that they see it as a threat!

Bless their fragile souls. 

According to Alta management, snowboarders are a public safety hazard.

Alta’s large majority of rich skier clients prefer the slopes to be snowboarder free, hence the ban. This controversial move put snowboard justice vigilantes Wasatch Equality on Alta’s back.

ski resorts that don't allow snowboarding
Wasatch Equality Campaign Poster

After a multi-year legal battle against the “unconstitutional and discriminatory” ban against Snowboarders, Alta was allowed to retain the ban. 

Alta 1, Snowboarders 0.

Although the resort operates on public land under the U.S Forest Service, the court concluded that “Alta’s policy to single-out snowboarders didn’t classify as discrimination in the eyes of the law”.

The giant NO SNOWBOARDS sign on every Alta ticket office does look a little like discrimination to me.

However, even this doesn’t stop snowboarders from poaching the mountain. 

“Poaching” refers to the act of snowboarding in an area where it is otherwise banned.

Basically, snowboarders will hike the entire mountain, just to prove a point. Here’s a great example:

Alta 1, Snowboarders 1. 

Perhaps the most famous example of poaching would be Burton Snowboards’ 2008 Sabotage Stupidity contest.

Jake Burton, the late founder of Burton Snowboards, offered a $5,000 reward for the best poaching footage recorded at the Deer Valley, Alta, or Mad River Glen resorts.

This attempt at retaliation went down as a legendary feat within the snowboarding community.

2. Deer Valley, Utah

The second ski resort that doesn’t allow snowboarding is Deer Valley.

Unfortunately, the resort is incredible and even hosted four skiing events during the 2022 Winter Olympics. It just refuses to host snowboarders.

 

Deer Valley, much like Alta, has been under constant public scrutiny for its ban on snowboarding. There have been many peaceful protests surrounding Deer Valley, including organised poaching events. 

Even after everything, Deer Valley still maintains the ban. The resort management even likes to call it “a business move.”

Shredders have since (telepathically) decided that we’re alright with being excluded from DV. It honestly doesn’t have the best snowboarding terrain anyway.

3. Mad River Glen, Vermont

Mad River Glen in Vermont is the last resort on this draconian list.

Located in Fayston, Mad River Glen falls within the scenic Green Mountains. It offers one of the most scenic and challenging terrains in New England.

The terrain is particularly difficult for snowboarders, mainly because they’re not allowed to step onto it…

Bizarrely, Mad River Glen started as one of the fist resorts to allow snowboarding in the 80’s. Clearly it has since fallen to the dark side. 

In fact, Mad River Glen has probably the most irrational reason for their ban:

Legend has it that a 1993 grocery store skirmish between then-owner Betsy Pratt and some local boarders pushed her to ban all snowboarders from the resort.

MRG’s website explicitly states their Snowboard Policy. They intend to retain the ban unless a shareholder vote invalidates it… The last recorded vote was in 1995!

Final Thoughts

Luckily, there are only 3 ski resorts that don’t allow snowboarding.

Perhaps one day the remaining bans will be lifted. Skiers and snowboarders might even join hands to fight a common enemy–climate change.

However, until then, I recommend skiers put down their skis, pick up a board, and have some fun. There are no snowboard-only resorts so even if you want to ski together, let’s ride!

Check out the best ski resorts in the world. They all allow snowboarding!

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22 comments

Sandy Zetlan 15/12/2022 - 2:58 am

I’ve been skiing for 25 years. I’ve never knocked anyone over or been knocked over, except by my own mistakes. Today at AZ Snowbowl I was overtaken and knocked down on 2 runs by 2 different snowboarders. Another screamed, “on your right”, squeezing between me and the snow wall without enough room and banging into me as he “passed”. It’s not snowboards. It’s snowboardERs that don’t bother to follow the rules. Snowboarding is no more rebellious than skiing. It’s the attitude of those snowboarders who think they can ignore slope etiquette. Skiing and snowboarding are not contact sports.

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Fraser 15/12/2022 - 4:15 pm

Ah, sorry to hear that Sandy! Obviously we don’t stand for that sort of riding here. It unfortunately does happen – from skiers as well I would point out. Hope you’re well and un-injured. Best wishes

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Reilly Hughes 04/02/2023 - 1:33 am

Nah fuck you sandy. The only time I’ve ever been close to colliding with anyone is with the skiers that just weave left and right across literally the entire slope without checking uphill first. Obviously downhill skier has the right of way, but that doesn’t mean traversing blind back and forth across the mountain with literally no awareness at all. This one example of an underperforming snowboarder does not set the example for the rest of us that have to dodge and weave across the slope to avoid hitting you blind idiots.

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Cobra 06/02/2023 - 1:09 am

So you’re the one, who hasn’t hit anyone.Yet!
Moron

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Mike in Prescott 26/03/2023 - 4:40 am

I’m a snowboarder myself and to deny there are far more snowboarder douche bags than skiers is comical. How many skiers do you see sitting on the ground 5, 7 or 10 across at the top of a run? Or even worse, on the downslope where they can’t be seen? I see it all day, every day I’m riding.
I actually just went to Snowbowl myself this week for the first time. It’s in Flagstaff which is a college town so that doesn’t help but I saw the worst behavior I’ve seen in many years there. Vaping in the gondola with no regard for others, doing shots in the gondola and the worst was the idiots with speakers in their backpacks, blasting their obnoxious EDM music. Add that to the idiots straight lining down the runs and you can sum up snowboarder behavior at Snowbowl.

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Kat 21/06/2023 - 6:20 am

What are you talking about–over 5 skiers SITTING on the slope???!!! Do you know how HARD it is to sit on the ground wearing ski boots and skis?! You must have meant boarders who often just sit in the middle of runs, sometimes to buckle their boots after getting off the lift! Worse that most boarders can’t do turns so they scrape down on edge, rocking the snow or they just spin wherever the board goes so we skiers have. No idea which way they will go and they then slide all the way across the run instead of downhill. They slide and fall in lift lines or block others by stepping one foot out of board in lift lines. Fewer skiers jumped on skis without a lesson, but boarders seam to think anyone can ride so never take lessons. Alta is wonderful!

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Kim 26/12/2022 - 11:48 pm

Been skiing for a few decades. I’m Australian and used to tough skiing conditions here. We ski sludge and ice so groomed U.S. slopes with good snow are a luxury. I’ve been mown down very painfully twice now by snowboarders who were out of control. I had to have a knee reconstruction after the first accident. Was lucky re the second. I know some skiers are out of control too but I find them easier to avoid – not really sure why. I’m planning to travel from Australia to ski in Utah so I don’t have to worry about boarders. Every time I hear one coming up behind me, I tense up and it’s spoiling my experience now.

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G.Whiteman 31/01/2023 - 4:27 am

As a skier who’s been enjoying the sport for 61 consecutive years, I remember the time before snowboarders and it was so nice! I know a lot of things have changed in that time…It’s a very different world we live in today! One thing that I feel is true is that snowboarders change the topography of the slope creating long skinny ‘moguls’ instead of round fat bumps. This is due to the longer turning radius that is inherent in snowboard design. Those long skinny moguls make it mush more difficult for skiers to ski those runs compared to the way mogul fields used to take shape. As well, when snowboarders get in over their heads in steeper terrain they just end up side-sliding all the way through that section effectively ‘plowing’ all the snow right off the run. I have watched them move a veritable avalanche of snow down the hill as they ‘ride’ that terrain and it’s a damn shame. So, this is why MRG is my all time fave Eastern ski area…No ‘boarders’ and a single chair to limit the number of skiers on the trails at the top of the mountain!

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G.Whiteman 31/01/2023 - 4:28 am

As a skier who’s been enjoying the sport for 61 consecutive years, I remember the time before snowboarders and it was so nice! I know a lot of things have changed in that time…It’s a very different world we live in today! One thing that I feel is true is that snowboarders change the topography of the slope creating long skinny ‘moguls’ instead of round fat bumps. This is due to the longer turning radius that is inherent in snowboard design. Those long skinny moguls make it much more difficult for skiers to ski those runs compared to the way mogul fields used to take shape. As well, when snowboarders get in over their heads in steeper terrain they just end up side-sliding all the way through that section effectively ‘plowing’ all the snow right off the run. I have watched them move a veritable avalanche of snow down the hill as they ‘ride’ that terrain and it’s a damn shame. So, this is why MRG is my all time fave Eastern ski area…No ‘boarders’ and a single chair to limit the number of skiers on the trails at the top of the mountain!

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Nobody 14/02/2023 - 2:26 pm

I’ve got news for both skiers and snowboarders. I’ll get to participate in winter sports about once every four years if I’m lucky. Yay for rich people!!

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Joseph 06/03/2023 - 8:22 pm

As a skier and snowboarder I feel it’s a bit odd. I mean theirs’ people who would be surprised they love boarding more than skiing and others who’ll be surprised they like skiing way more than they had boarding. Can’t we all just play nicely?

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Fraser 06/03/2023 - 8:25 pm

Well said. I’ll admit this article was a little bit tongue-in-cheek.
I actually love skiing too… I just love snowboarding more.
Which do you prefer?

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Theresa 14/03/2023 - 10:19 pm

After snowboarding 25+ years, I finally learned how to ski in my late 40s. I love them both! I choose my equipment based on conditions. Here in VT, that usually means skis. But a powder day? Snowboarding all the way! (FYI, we have 2 feet and counting since 4am)

Some fun back-story on the Mad River Glen ban: you probably already know that MRG is one of two single chair lifts in North America and it was already 40+ years old when snowboarders started. So, while snowboarders we originally welcome, there was a problem that the motion of a boarder getting off the single would trip the safety, frequently stopping the chair and causing super long lines and angry customers. So Betsy Pratt, sole owner and corn cob pipe smoking OG, tried to solve the problem by banning snowboarders from the single chair (only)-> the rest of the mountain was still available. After tons of flack and stress over people breaking the rules, the famous grocery store “altercation” happened (rumor is the guys spit at her feet). Anyone who ever met Betsy knows she isn’t someone to be messed with and they did. So, consequences? lol. (I’ve always wanted to know WHO those guys were!)

Anywho, I’m a big fan of Betsy’s- not b/c of the snowboard ban obviously but b/c of her vision of community and stewardship. She’s on my mind b/c I just found out she was inducted into the VT Hall of Fame last year. Pretty cool story. https://www.madriverglen.com/betsy-pratt-inducted-to-vermonts-ski-hall-of-fame/

Thanks for reading. 🙂

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Fraser 14/03/2023 - 10:27 pm

Thanks Theresa. Some super interesting extra color to the stories and rumours I’ve heard over the years. Betsy does indeed sound like a legend.

I knew about the chair but hadn’t pieced together the issue with safety and snowboard dismounts. Interesting!

Is MRG your local hill?

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Theresa 21/03/2023 - 2:30 am

Thanks, Fraser! I appreciate the general positivity across your site.
We do mostly Sugarbush (b/c, snowboarders in the fam) but we’re lucky to have SB and MRG as our locals. They’re really close to each other but totally different vibes. Still being pretty new to skiing (and being a 50 something scardey cat), I personally prefer the terrain at SB (wider trails, more grooming) but the atmosphere and character at MRG cannot be beat. Total throw-back, super chill. We meet lots of folks for whom MRG is a bucket list type thing.

Btw, Betsy Pratt passed away over the weekend. Lots of articles about what an icon she was.

Downhill Mike 08/03/2023 - 1:51 pm

Pretty soon there will be a similar list for E-Mountain bikes. I dealt with this as an early snowboarder and now again as an E- Mountain biker. Some bike parks, forests and entire towns ban us.

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Max S 22/03/2023 - 2:58 pm

Honestly, I love skiing non-snowboard mountains. Not every snowboarder is this way, but snowboarding just offers up more opportunities to ruin someone else’s day than skiing does. From shaving down powder to icy stretches, to ruining moguls and especially wiping out trails through trees, bombing down gentle blues and taking out others. The worst are those who can’t wait to get off the lift ramp to strap in causing pileups and the only fights I’ve ever seen on mountain. There are reasons to not allow snowboards, not the entire groups fault but here we are. If we’re gonna pay upwards of $150-$200 to ski at a “ski resort” then I think skiers should get that preference to have at least a few mountains to themselves. (This is coming from someone who’s home mountain is Stratton. Home of Burton and Shaun White and the birthplace of boarding.)

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Fraser 22/03/2023 - 8:21 pm

Thanks Max. Understand where you’re coming from… though playing devils advocate, would you therefore agree with “snowboard-only resorts” too?
To my knowledge, the only one of these shut down last year. And was very small!

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Sue 09/04/2023 - 6:07 pm

YES! I’m a skiier only (tried boarding years ago- not my jam). I’ll answer that question…I’d have ZERO problem with board only resorts. We’re talking about three-THREE- resorts in the whole world (well, USA) who are doing something different. Not everyone has the opportunity (privilege?) to EVER ski because of where they live, financial and/or, or physical limitations. I think just appreciating a great day on the slopes, whether it be on boards or skis, even if we can’t access each and every single one, is a way better use of our energy and will spread alot more good vibes. Just sayin!

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Deni 24/03/2023 - 3:45 pm

I’m sorry to inform you that I’m on the camp that doesn’t think there are enough resorts separating skiing and snowboarding. Them ploughing down the mountain, running an flattening the terrain sometimes makes for very dangerous skiing conditions for skiers. I just don’t. Like the whole impact snowboarding has on the terrain.. they name skiing less enjoyable.

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Mr. 215's 21/11/2023 - 9:07 pm

Hey Reilly Hughes – GO F*** YOURSELF. The majority of snowboarders are a bunch of ignorant brats who wouldn’t even be capable of using phrases like “maintain control” or “demonstrate on-slope courtesy” in a complete and comprehensible sentence.

And Fraser: The ignorance and the abject stupidity of what you wrote here is absolutely STUNNING!!

Those who can’t ski……take up snowboarding.

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Fraser 21/11/2023 - 9:47 pm

Who hurt you Mr. 215’s?

What was it in the article that you found particularly stunning?

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