Are you thinking about snow? I am. We’re already planning for our 2017-18 family ski season so we can get the best ski season pass deals for families. To guide you through the options, once again, I’ve sweated the details to put together our round-up of ski/snowboard season passes.
Wait, before I get ahead of myself. I know not everyone believes in ski season passes. I get it. This can be a large purchase, especially if you add the kids in. But remember this, sometimes you’ve got to spend to save!
Here are the top four reasons you need to buy a ski season pass:
Money. No one ever said skiing was cheap. Sometimes I feel like I might as well open my wallet on the chair lift and toss out $20s. But experienced parents know getting a season pass can save you a bundle in the long run.
Convenience: You’ll never have to wait in a ticket line again. Seriously, last year at Vail I waited in a 60 minute line for the “privilege” to buy a $120 lift ticket. Being bitter is no way to start your ski day.
Usage. A pass is pure magic when it comes to viewing winter as a “gift.” It’ll turn a so-so day into a ski day. Why? You won’t feel like you have to pay for “just a few runs.” If you’ve skied with tots (or tweens for that matter), you know enthusiasm can ebb and flow. The beauty of a season pass is that you are always in GO mode. Bottom line: Getting a ski season pass guarantees more family time on the slopes.
Variety. Passes are designed by master marketers. They build in all the little perks to get you to spend more days on snow and to try new resorts. With a pass you literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Venture off the beaten path on the hunt for fresh pow.
Best Ski Season Pass Deals for Families
Comparing Ski Season Pass Deals
Now, let’s dive into the options. I’m going to start with the big ones. These are multi-mountain, multi-state options.
Epic Pass: If you plan to go big this winter, start here. With Epic you can ski as much as you want, wherever you want. You get unlimited, unrestricted skiing or riding with no restricted dates. You also get six "Ski-With-A-Friend" tickets for friends and family!
Plus the Epic pass give you access to 30 European resorts across Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland. It is the only multi-resort pass to offer large-scale access to European skiing and snowboarding including: Les 3 Vallees, Paradiski and Tignes-Val D’Isere in France, Skirama Dolomiti Adamello Brenta in Italy, 4 Vallees in Switzerland, and Arlberg in Austria.
It's the most expensive option, but you get the most DOS (days on snow) and you get some big options like Vail and Whistler. The downside? It doesn't include many of our favorite spots in Utah and it's VERY light on the East Coast (only Stowe).
MAX Pass:This pass offers you the most variety of mountains.You’ll get 44 mountains in all, so if variety is your thing, you’ll love it. To compete in the pass wars, they added six new mountains for 2017/18: Belleayre Mountain, Gore Mountain, Granite Peak, Lutsen Mountains, Whiteface Mountain, and Windham Mountain, (lots of good news here for East Coast skiers!)
Here's the full list of resorts included: Alyeska, Big Sky Resort, Blue Mountain, Boreal Mountain Resort, Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain Resort, Brighton Resort, Buck Hill, Copper, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Crystal Mountain, Cypress Mountain, Eldora, Fernie Alpine, Kicking Horse, Killington Resort, Kimberley, Lee Canyon, Loon Mountain, Mont Sainte Anne, Mount Sunapee, Mountain Creek, Mountain High, Mt. Bachelor, Nakiska Ski Area, Okemo Mountain Resort, Pico Mountain, Snowshoe Mountain, Solitude, Steamboat, Stevens Pass Resort, Stoneham, Stratton Mountain, Sugarloaf, Sunday River, The Summit at Snoqualmie, Tremblant, Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, Winter Park Resort. Plus, Belleayre Mountain, Gore Mountain, Granite Peak, Lutsen Mountains, Whiteface Mountain, and Windham Mountain,
We love the M.A.X. Pass because it doesn't play favorites to a certain geography. Last year we bought M.A.X. passes and used them at 10 different resorts--trying new mountains was half the fun! In addition, we do the M.A.X. Pass Add-On. We buy a season pass at our local resort and got the M.A.X. pass for just $329. This way we get full use of our home mountain and access to the other 43 additional mountains for just $329.
Note: You cannot transfer days from one mountain to another. For example, if you plan to ski for 6 days at one resort, you can use your M.A.X. Pass for the first 5 days of skiing, but you’ll need to purchase a lift ticket for the sixth day on the slopes.
The Mountain Collective: This is the budget play. You'll get 16 mountains with a heavy dose of luxury. If you like to travel and love variety, this is a great pick. Ski or board two days at each of these high-end destinations.
Resorts included: Alta, Aspen Snowmass, Banff Sunshine, Coronet Peak | The Remarkables, Jackson Hole, Lake Louise, Mammoth, Revelstoke, Snowbasin, Snowbird, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Sugarbush Resort, Sun Valley, Taos Ski Valley, Telluride, and Thredbo Alpine Village
I feel like an infomercial "but wait there’s more," you’ll also get two days each at Valle Nevado in Chile, Hakuba Valley in Japan, Chamonix in France, and Niseko United in Japan. Plus, you get 50% off all additional days at The Collective destinations.
More ski pass options for families
Don’t think it’s that easy. There’s more to talk about, like Partner Resorts
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Vermont Ski Pass Options
Vermont should really have an All-Access Vermont pass, but alas, they don’t. The folks at Ski Vermont put together this round-up of 2017-18 deals
Peak Pass (New England)
This is a great deal for New Englanders who crave variety and don't want to get on a plane. The Peak Pass gives you access to seven mountains: Attitash (NH) , Mt. Snow (VT), Big Boulder (PA), Hunter (NY), Jack Frost (PA), Crotched (NH) and Wildcat (NH).Tickets are $799 for adults and $599 for kids until 10/18 this price range is for unlimited skiing with no blackouts. Kids 6 and under ski for just $60 for the season. Prices go down if you are willing to work with blackouts OR if you buy early. Get more information at PeakPass.com
Maine Ski Pass Options
New England Pass: Get access to Sunday River, Loon Mountain and Sugarloaf with one season pass. Yikes, it’s $1169 for an adult--so you better ski a lot to make use of that pass!
Utah Ski Pass Options
They just know how to make skiing attractive. They have figured out a way to rally all 14 resorts in the state for a multi-resort pass. If you have big bucks or a company to promote, try the Gold Pass--for just under $5,000. This pass is fully transferable so your office could share in it. The Ski Utah Gold Pass, is good for 50 days at EACH Utah resort (14 in all) except Park City Mountain where it is valid for 100 days. Another option is the Silver Pass ($3,150). While it is not transferable, you can still get in a TON of skiing. This one is valid 30 days at EACH Utah resort (plus 60 days at Park City Mountain). I also like the more affordably priced Yeti pass, you get one day at each of the 14 Utah resorts for just $649.
There’s a pass or deal to suit every budget AND one of the things I love best? The Ski Utah Passport ($35) for 5th and 6th graders. The Passport offers 5th Graders three days of skiing and 6th graders one day of skiing to shred all 14 Utah resorts.
California Ski Pass Options
The Ski California Gold Pass ($2750) is a mighty exclusive pass. They sell just 100 of these. Consider it the "golden ticket" for skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing in California and Nevada. With just one pass, you or anyone with your pass can ski or ride at 32 downhill and cross-country resorts. Zero blackout dates. Passes are valid holidays, busy weekends and anytime resorts are open.
Canadian Ski Pass Options
This one is a bit confusing. It's not really a pass, but bundles of lift passes at discounts. The Canadian Lift Passes allow you to ski or snowboard at up to 137 destinations across Canada. So whether you want to ski one time at 20 different ski areas or 20 times at one ski area, you have the choice to use them as you see fit. When you buy in bundles, you save big.
Take the $1300 Gold package. With this purchase, you get 20 lift tickets that can be used at Apex Mountain Resort, Big White Ski Resort Ltd., Castle Mountain Resort, Fernie Alpine Resort, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Le Massif de Charlevoix, Mont-Sainte-Anne, Mount Washington Alpine Resort, Nakiska, Panorama Mountain Village, Red Mountain Resort, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Silver Star Ski Resort, Ski Marmot Basin, Station Mont Tremblant and Sun Peaks Resort. For $65 a visit, you really can’t go wrong!
Per ticket prices go down for the smaller mountains. Get more information at Canadian Lift Pass
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Colorado Ski Pass Options
Like Utah, Colorado Ski Country USA also has a 5th and 6th Grade Passport Program. Fifth graders get three days of free skiing or snowboarding at 32 different resorts and sixth graders get 88 days on the slopes for less than $1.20 per day. To register for the Passport Program and for more information about First Class Lessons, parents can visit www.ColoradoSki.com/Passport.
Colorado Gems Card: The Colorado Gems Card provides discounted skiing and riding at ten Colorado ski resorts. For $25, the Gems Card gives you either two 2-for-1 adult lift tickets or two 30 percent off adult lift tickets.
Participating resorts in the 2017-18 Gems Card program include: Arapahoe Basin, Copper, Echo Mountain, Eldora, Granby Ranch, Hesperus, Loveland, Monarch, Powderhorn and Sunlight. For more information or to purchase a Colorado Gems Card, visit www.ColoradoSki.com/Gems.
I know this was a TON of information to digest. Let me know if I missed anything! Now all you’ve got to do is pull the trigger, buy your pass and then start praying for snow! Where will you be skiing this season?
This is NOT a sponsored post. This was a labor of love.