Don’t let anyone tell you that there’s no snowboarding in Brooklyn—unless that person is a park ranger handing out a $350 summons. Outlaw boarders have been known to hit Fort Greene Park after a fresh snowfall, but the tickets they face (it’s illegal) wind up costing a whole lot more than just leaving town altogether. With bus-and-lift-ticket deals that keep day-trip prices under $100, and less during the week, the only real barrier between you and slopes close to NYC might be the snow itself.
Trips from Brooklyn are available five days out of the week from Homage Brooklyn in Cobble Hill, and weekends and holidays from Panda Sports in Bay Ridge (along with bus stops at various locations in other parts of the city).
Reservations for all the trips— including additional outings to Belleayre, Bromley, and some longer treks that require planes—can be made through Emilio’s Ski & Snowboard Shop in Forest Hills. These are, by far, the best deal you’ll find. The transport service covers round trip on a motor couch (complete with video and lavatories) and your lift ticket for $69.99 on weekdays, and varying prices as follows for weekend trips: Mountain Creek ($74.95), Hunter Mountain ($79.95), Vermont trips to Mt. Snow, Okemo and Stratton ($89.95) and a new trip to Gore Mountain ($99.95). For an additional $25 you can add rental equipment, and other packages include lessons for beginners, so everything is covered but mittens. If you decide to take advantage of a deal offered through the resort, you can pay for the shuttle minus the lift ticket for $40-$60 round trip depending on the destination.
The trips depart and return to the city daily, but for some, like the Hunter weekend trip, your return ticket could be held overnight for the next day’s bus. Be sure to sign up online, no walk-ups are allowed.
I tend to skew my allegiance towards supporting the local board shops, but there are other shuttle options for getting to the mountains. Urban Sherpa is an excellent choice with buses departing from Times Square and Union Square. They have similarly priced package deals with most of the same trips and a few not offered by Homage and Emilio, including uber-popular Mt. Killington, AKA “The Beast.”
There are buses and trains from New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, and the like that will get you close, but not all the way. If, for some reason, you find yourself in a time of desperation, Adventure Northeast also offers mountain shuttles, but a round trip to Mount Snow, for example, costs $129 and doesn’t include a lift ticket.
Three tips for beginners
If you’re new to snow sports, there are affordable package deals for beginners. These package typically include rentals, lesson(s), and a lower mountain lift ticket. This specified ticket restricts access to the green (beginner) and a few blue (intermediate) lifts that go a third or half way up the mountain; plenty for an inexperienced rider.
Hunter Mountain’s Hunter One is a lower mountain acclaimed for it’s novice-friendly design. For aspiring snowboarders, this is the spot. The mountain has teamed with Burton, the iconic name in boarding, for Burton’s Learn To Ride Program. The $79 Single-Pak includes a lower mountain lift, a group lesson, and a Burton rental board specially designed to maximize the beginner’s riding experience a.k.a. help to keep you off of your butt. The $109 Try-Pak, offers the same deal at three days of riding.
Camelback also participates in Burton’s LTR package (the only participating resort in Pennsylvania) but charges slightly more at $80 for midweek and $90 for weekends and holiday At Camelback and Hunter, if you decide on the Burton program, you can opt for the Freestyle lesson, where you’ll learn the basics of switch riding, sliding rails or launching jumps.
Mountain Creek has the best Learn to Ride program if you’d like to do it with a friend. Their package includes three Limited Area Lift tickets, three days of rental equipment and three 1-hour group clinics for $119. After the first day, a friend can get the same package for two days at $69. And if you’re not able to ride the beginner slopes after three clinics, the lessons become free until you can (though the fine print mentions lift and rentals aren’t included with the free lessons).
Other ways to find deals
The steadfast rule for getting the most value is to go midweek if your schedule allows. All mountains (and the shuttle companies) offer midweek pricing, usually at a discount of $10-$20. The crowds will be significantly less, meaning shorter lines for the ski lifts and more time spent plummeting downhill.
There are others ways to save, and many of them involve using the web. It can be as simple as saving a few dollars by ordering in advance on the resort’s website. For example, save $6.55 online on rental equipment (skis or boards) at Hunter or keep a few dollars in your pocket to buy lunch by getting your lift ticket online at Stratton.
Speaking of Stratton, they post last-minute deals on their Facebook page; most recently, two days of skiing and one night of lodging for $79. You can bet other mountains will follow this trend, so it can’t hurt to friend your favorite mountain, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to their email list. Most mountains have a Deals page on their site, and that’s always a great place to start. See below for direct links to some mountain deals.
If you’re buying a board…
Snowboarding.com offers a helpful guide for first-time board buying. When you’re ready to make a purchase, my recommendation is heading to Homage Brooklyn and speaking with the folks there. An entry level set-up—board, boots and bindings—is likely to cost between $300-$500. You might save a few bucks on the web, but as with any hobby, it is important to get to know the guys at your local shop. If you decide to shop online, check out the selection of snowboards at Backcountry. While you’re there, ask about their efforts to legalize snowboarding in NYC. Above all, you’ll be supporting Brooklyn’s economy.