Between the Tetons, the Rockies, the Wasatch, and countless smaller ranges in between, the Mountain West has earned its title. No doubt in part to the advanced topography those ranges occupy, mountain bikers have made this region into one of the most extreme playgrounds on the North American map, but organized lift-service access is just starting to gain traction. Luckily, the terrain is there for the shaping, and several quality mountain bike parks have popped up in the past decade. Combining long descents with steep and rocky singletrack, the Mountain West is soon to become another dominant bike park region. Here’s five reasons for downhill mountain bikers to pay attention to Cowboy Country, USA.
Our first representative from Spud Central, Brundage Mountain sits right outside McCall, Idaho, and offers up more than 20 miles of singletrack downhill trails ranging from the pleasant to the extreme. A high-speed chairlift whisks riders to the top of Brundage’s 7,640-foot summit where riders have 1,640 feet of vertical options. Beginners can enjoy a scenic ride on Elk Trail, with views of Payette National Forest, and the gravity chasers can get their kicks on Zorro and its technical singletrack. Runs aren’t as long as some of the other selections on the list, but Brundage is easily lappable, allowing for a lot of vertical over the course of the day. Lifts only spin on weekends, so uphill traffic can enjoy the mountain on the weekdays. It’s probably only a matter of time before Jackson Hole catches up, but for now we’re giving #5 to Brundage.
Day Pass: $32
4. Canyons Bike Park, Park City, Utah
Despite its mountain biking pedigree, Utah only has a couple lift-serviced bike parks. Of those, Canyons Resort is definitely worth a look. Canyons Resort Bike Park is home to 15 trails—11 of which are downhill specific—and over 20 miles of cross country terrain along the picturesque Wasatch. There are trail options for any rider as longer winding runs like Flying Salmon keep beginners entertained while expert trails like Cliffhanger give the white knuckle crowd something to cheer for. Only in its third season, Canyons adds Split Decision for 2013—a longer expert trail full of ladders and drops. For the cross country rider, the gondola takes bikers up to 8,000 feet and on top of the 20 miles of area cross country trails, and provides access to the famed Wasatch Crest Trail.
Day Pass: $29.
3. Silver Mountain, Kellogg Idaho
Grab your fat tires and jump on the world’s longest gondola to experience some of the Mountain West’s best downhill mountain biking at Idaho’s Silver Mountain. With nearly 4,000 feet of vertical, the area boasts 30 miles of trails and some of the longest descents in the game. Indeed because of the actual vertical these trails cover, Silver Mountain is not the ideal spot for beginners. For the rest however, the Idaho destination serves up runs that top out at nearly 7 miles of downhill, including the advanced Hammer trail and intermediate ride, Alhambra. The mountain plays host to a slew of good local riders, highlighting the area’s downhill talent with a race series every year. For those visiting, make sure to check out the Bike and Dine on Fridays, where riders can enjoy a BBQ rib dinner for an extra $12 added to their lift ticket.
First to the lift-serviced downhill biking game in the Tetons, Grand Targhee Bike Park features 2,200 vertical feet and has over 37 miles of cross country and downhill mountain bike trails. Ride the lift to the top of Fred’s Mountain and hit meandering cruisers like the Lightning Ridge Loop to take in stunning Teton views or work on base building in one of three area skill parks. Expert trails like Sticks and Stones are where the adenaline pumping is at, with logs and drops mixed into rocky and pitched singletrack. The Tetons biggest lift-serviced mountain biking is also home to several races and festivals including the Wydaho Rendezvous Mountain Bike Festival over Labor Day Weekend—a series of races, demos, and outdoor concerts that attract rippers from across the lower 48.
Day Pass: $35
1. Whitefish Mountain Bike Park, Whitefish, Montana
2013 is a big year for Montana’s Whitefish Mountain Resort as it added five new trails to more than double its downhill freeride terrain. With nearly 30 miles of trails ranging from beginner to expert, Whitefish Mountain Bike Park is now a downhill force. New trails Kashmir and Freebird run top to bottom with massive berms and jumps interwoven through Whitefish’s natural terrain for an exhilarating downhill plunge through beautiful forests and alpine meadows. The new trails are designed by Terraflow Trails and between them have over 100 new berms and 50 new jumps. Those looking to enjoy a longer ride can link up with the intermediate Summit Trail for over 7 miles of lift-accessed riding. Whitefish is hosting a number of competitions this season, including its stop of the USA Cycling-sanctioned All Gravity Series on August 24 and 25.
Day Pass: $29