It’s time to think about your season pass to your favorite ski mountains. I know it’s August and you’re savoring the last sweet long days of summer, but soon you’ll be dreaming of knee-deep powder and planning your long weekends.
First let’s talk about WHY you want a season pass.
Money. It’s all about the Benjamins. Getting a season pass can save you big bucks. No one ever said skiing was cheap. There are ways to save. Buying in the pre-season can save you up to 40% on tickets.
Usage. When you’ve got a season pass you are psychologically motivated to use it. I don’t know if there are actually studies proving this, but my own anecdotal evidence shows it to be true. When I have a pass I’ll go for “just a couple” runs on a day when I only have a few hours to ski. And those couple runs are bliss.
Support. You’re supporting an industry that you love. On the East Coast the snow was dismal last year, but mountains were able to stay in business thanks to season pass business. I know you aren’t running a charity, but you are a skier and that means you are invested in this business succeeding.
BONUS REASON: Variety. Many of the new passes have added mountains that are off the beaten path. Funny thing is, when they are “free” you just might try one of them and love it.
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 is exciting for the unrestricted access. And the premiere mountains: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Wilmot, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, Perisher (2017 access) and Arapahoe Basin.
If you don't think you'll get enough value out of the unlimited plan, Epic also offers 7-day and 4-day options. This is a great deal for my family--we intend to go to Vail for a week. Lift tickets are $108 a day. The pass pays for itself in just under 3 days. It also provides flexibility by allowing you to use your days consecutively or over the course of the entire season.
MAX pass has a TON of mountains on their pass. From Alaska to Canada to West Virginia and everything in between, you'll never get bored. This year they added ten new mountains to the pass (I was excited to see Okemo, VT on the list). I also like the $299 season pass add-on so you get a season pass to a resort for unlimited access to that one spot plus 5 days everywhere else.
The Mountain Collective has the fewest number of ski days, but it's well priced and has some AMAZING mountains, like Alta/Snowbird, Aspen Snowmass, Jackson Hole and Whistler Blackcomb. If you want to ski more you get a 50% discount on all additional days with no blackout dates. Passholders also receive two days at each Global Affiliate Destination, Chamonix (France), Hakuba Valley (Japan) and Valle Nevado (Chile).
Don't think it's that easy. There's more to talk about, like Powder Alliance. This is a FREE pass with purchase of season pass at any of the participating 13 resorts.
Let me give you an example. You buy a season pass at Crested Butte, an alliance member, for $669 (that is the adult rate until 10/7), then you will get 42 days at 15 premiere winter destinations. That's 3 free days at 13 resorts spread out over New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Oregon. They even cover Japan.
There are no membership fees, no collective pass prices, no additional charges of any kind. Simply present a 2016/17 anytime season pass from a participating Powder Alliance area and receive free skiing benefits at all the rest. Restrictions apply and all tickets must be used in the same season as the accompanying pass.
What else? Well smaller mountains are tying to get into the mix too. There's the New England Pass. This is $1,139 (pre-season rates through October 10, 2016) and covers three mountains: Sunday River, Sugar Loaf & Loon. Here's the question: Whys is this so much more than a season pass to Crested Butte that will also get me a Powder Alliance Membership?
Utah seems to grasp the concept that they need to give families a variety of options. Let's kick it off by saying the FREE programs for 5th and 6th graders just rock. (get the details: https://www.skiutah.com/passes/passports). I know I am missing some options in Utah, but here are my favorites.
If money is no object and your day job doesn’t get in the way of your skiing, you might want to invest in the Ski Utah Gold & Silver passes. These passes work at Utah’s 15 resorts, like Deer Valley, Alta and Sundance.
Ski Utah Gold Pass ($4800)= 50 days of skiing at EACH Utah resort except Park City, where the pass is valid for 100 days of skiing
BONUS: It's fully transferable, so your friends and family can enjoy your same privileges on the days you're not using the pass.
Ski Utah Silver Pass ($3,150) see above but 30 days at EACH Utah resort except Park City, where the pass is valid for 60 days of skiing.
Most of the individual Utah mountains have great deals too. For example, Deer Valley offers unbelievable benefits, with your season pass you also get 6 buddy passes for friends. Oh wait, there's more--you get 3 day passes at Alta and Snowbird each, plus a 4 day pass at Solitude Resort, and 2 day passes at Brighton Resort. NEW! 3 complimentary passes to Steamboat Ski Resort. Adults rate: $2185 --this is the best pricing (rates go up Oct. 31st.)
Now let’s talk about your local mountain--for those of us who don't live out West. For our family, it’s Mohawk Mountain in CT. A season pass is $499. Yes friends, more than a Mountain Collective pass yet it only has a whopping 300 vertical. But it's our family hill and we want to support it so we buy season passes to invest in our community.
TIP: look for the midweek pass. If you have a flexible work schedule (or are a SAHM or retired) this is awesome. Take the kids midweek and you can save a bundle AND avoid crowds. At Mohawk, the midweek pass is $289--that’s a 40% savings.
I know this was a TON of information to digest. I feel your pain. As a ski family that loves to travel we look at these facts and figures all the time. Tell me ski friends, what did I miss? Do you invest in season passes?
This is NOT a sponsored post. This was a labor of love.