North of Durango and south of Ouray in southwestern Colorado, the Silverton Mountain ski area is a freerider's paradise known for its ungroomed, lift-accessed backcountry experience. This freeriding mecca has 1,800 acres of avalanche-controlled terrain served by one lift accessing a vertical descent of 2,000 feet. If you're up for some hiking, the lift ascends to 12,300 feet and you can boot pack up to 13,500 before dropping the 3,200 feet back down to the base or off the backside. All the runs are double-black diamond rated and not return down to the base area.
While snowboarding Silverton Mountain, you'll find plenty of steep bowls, chutes, cliffs and dramatic big mountain freeriding. The terrain is completely unmaintained except for the avalanche control work. Most of the season, a guide is provided for each small group (8 max) heading up the mountain. A typically day of guided snowboarding on Silverton Mountain will yield 3 to 7 laps without stopping for lunch. On each lap, you can expect to hike an additional 15 minutes to an hour from the top of the lift up higher on the mountain before dropping into open bowls or chutes.
The chairlift unloads at the top of a beautiful cirque which provides easy hiking along a ridge to access up to 1,819 acres of snow fields. The routes down are through gullies, chutes, glades and bowls. It is 100% advanced terrian with at least 35 degree pitches. Silverton Mountain is almost always venturing into new terrain on a daily basis providing new skiing and usually new powder opportunities for weeks after the most recent snowfall.
On big pow days, head to the back side and ride the Riff with a 40+ degree slope. For great glades, find the String in the north facing pine forest. Serious riders will love the Ropedeedope, a natural terrain park.
If you can't get enough from hiking access on the mountain, the ski area operates a heli-ski operation covering over 22,000 acres of terrain, but advance reservation is highly recommended. If going heli is too much for you, there is also a nearby snocat operation called Silverton Powder Cats which operates southwest of Silverton at Molas Pass (970) 385-7288.
For some apres ski, start at the base area is the very rustic base tent. Back in town, try the new Golden Block Brewery, Miners Tavern, Gradys Bar or Explorers Club.
Keep in mind that Silveton Mountain Ski Area is only open Thursday through Sunday from 9am to 3pm. There is no running water so make sure to bring your own.
The Silverton Mountain Ski Area is located halfway between Durango airport and Montrose Airport. To reach the snowboarding at Silverton Mountain from US70, use the exit near Grand Junction for US50 southbound. Continue south through Grand Junction and Montrose. In Montrose, continue south on US550 through Ouray and over Red Mountain Pass (subject to avalanche closures if it snows). Near Silverton, turn left off US550 into downtown Silverton. Continue through the town to the town park, and after the park, veer left up CR110. Continue north on CR110 for 5.5 miles to Silverton Mountain ski area. It is about a 6.5 hour drive from Denver.
To reach the snowboarding at Silverton Mountain from Durango, head north on US550 to Silverton. Pass through the downtown of Silverton. Continue through the town to the town park, and after the park, veer left up CR110. Continue north on CR110 for 5.5 miles to Silverton Mountain ski area. It is about a one hour drive from Durango. The nearest airport is Durango–La Plata County Airport (DRO), which is served by United Airlines and American Airlines.
TIP: While there are lunches available for pre-sale at the base area during check-in, don't bother. Most likely your group and guide won't stop for lunch -- just bring a lot of small snacks and water in your pack to down on the 5 minute shuttle bus ride back to the lift after each run.
Overall, Silverton Mountain is the 13th most popular snowboard & freeride destination of all 28 snowboarding resorts in Colorado.