Join the club

Want more pals for your skiing and riding adventures? Check out Boulder Freeride, the ski and snowboard club at CU. Freeride is the largest student group on campus, and they plan trips to Colorado's areas and beyond, like Jackson, Whistler, even Europe. Learn more at boulderfreeride.com .

You could easily spend your whole season flying around Area 51.

With or without aliens. Up to you.

Either way -- rad. But you're in Colorado. You have a plethora of ski and ride options beyond Keystone's (awesome) signature park.

A lot has changed since Colorado's first half pipes for snowboarders were built in 1986 (at Breck, Wolf Creek and Berthoud Pass). Nowadays, areas are spending bigger to give you bigger pipes, jumps and more varied terrain parks. You have way more to choose from than you did even a few years ago. Now, areas have baby pipes for newbies, superpipes for supershreddage and everything in between.

Now go forth and sample.

Keystone

Keystone's Area 51 is the place to be seen -- literally, you can watch who's jibbing or jumping what below as you ride the lift that services the park.

The A51 lift makes for shorter lap times between runs on the rails, which the park's crew changes up on a regular basis -- again, it's easy to spend a whole season here.


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Info: keystoneresort.com/a51

Copper

Copper is the mountain for testing yourself.

Head indoors to Woodward at Copper's Barn to learn and try new (more daring? scary?) tricks in relative safety with trampolines and foam pits. There are several ways to do Woodward, from day-long camps to drop-in solo sessions (introductory "One-Hit Wonder" safety course required), so seek out what suits you.

Terrain parks: Where stuff like this happens on purpose.
Terrain parks: Where stuff like this happens on purpose. ( Sammy Dallal )

But the best part is that after a winter camp or class, you get to take it immediately to the snow, whether on the 22-foot superpipe or on the boxes and jibs splattered over Catalyst, Copper's main park.

Info: woodwardatcopper.com

Aspen

As home to the Winter X Games, Aspen Buttermilk is loaded with expectations for big features, and it delivers. The X Games slopestyle course is the place to play, and it's all close to the base -- which makes for big features with a big convenience factor.

The course opens (with a few modifications) to the public after the Aspen-Snowmass Open, Feb. 23 through 26.

If you want to ski/ride during the X Games (Jan. 26 to 29), when many are watching and the slopes are relatively free, check out Aspen's deal for students that weekend, the College X Pass, which gets you two days at Aspen mountains for $79 (must buy in advance).

Also at Aspen: Snowmass is home to a 22-foot superpipe and a 12-foot pipe in the beginner park.

Info: aspensnowmass.com/buttermilk

Breck

If you want big jumps, head to Breckenridge. Because it's a stop on the Winter Dew Tour, Breck's crew puts a lot of effort into creating opportunities for tons of air time.

For newbies to the parks, Breck is still a safe bet. Their easier terrain -- check out Eldorado and Trygves -- is separate from the tougher stuff, so you can learn comfortably among the similarly skilled and work your way up.

Info: breck1080.com

Echo

A tiny mountain with a big heart for parks, Echo has boxes and rails scattered here, there and everywhere. The drive is shorter than heading to Summit County, and at only $38 for students (or $35 for night skiing, 4 to 9 p.m.), it's not expensive or far to take an evening break from your Epic Pass to check it out.

Info: echomtnpark.com