Pass Intelligence: How to Choose a Season Pass

The ski season pass has not just become a reasonable (and, um, necessary) purchase every fall, it’s become a screaming deal. That’s because many resorts are banding together to stretch the power of your pass, giving you free days at other resorts across the state, country and even planet, when you want to road trip away from your local hill. Plus, most resorts offer four packs and other options to purchase discounted tickets before the season begins. So we put the choices down for you here so you can plan ahead to make the most out of your season.


Buy In: $709;

What You Get: The freedom to ski pretty much anywhere you damn please. The full epic offers unlimited (no blackout) skiing and riding at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Eldora in Colorado. Plus, the same at Canyons, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood, California; Afton Alps, Minnesota; and Mt. Brighton, Michigan.

Extra Resorts: Five days at each Verbier, Switzerland; Arlberg, Austria; and Les 3 Vallées, France

Best For: Front Rangers who love these resorts. Connoisseurs. Folks who love variety.

Other Options: The Epic Local ($549) won’t take you around the globe but it does give unlimited days at Breckenridge, Keystone, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton and Arapahoe Basin. Plus time at Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood. And 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek with holiday blackouts.


Buy In: $429;

What You Get: The world. Monarch began the multiple resorts on one pass phenomenon and the core resort’s season pass only upped the game this year.

Extra Resorts: Here we go: three free days at Loveland, Durango, Sunlight, Ski Cooper, Granby Ranch and Devil’s Thumb in Colorado. Three at Angel Fire, Red River, Pajarito, Sipapu and Ski Apache in New Mexico; Indian Head, Michigan; Snowy Range, Wyoming; Sierra at Tahoe and China Peak, California; Cataloochee, North Carolina; Mt. Crescent, Iowa; and Masella, Spain. One day at Steamboat, Winter Park, Copper and Silverton, Colorado, and Mt. Bohemia, Michigan. And deals at Arizona Snowbowl; Alta, Utah; Grand Targhee, Wyoming; Revelstoke and Red Mountain, Canada; and Hochkossen, Kampenwand, Wendelstein, Oberaundorf, and Hochfellen in Germany and Austria.

Best For: Soul skiers and globetrotters.

Other Options: Do you need them?


Buy In: $379;

What You Get: A deal.

Extra Resorts: You also get three days at Crested Butte, three days at Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort, three days at Monarch and one unguided day at Silverton.

Best For: Denverites especially, but anyone who wants to spend the winter avoiding the tunnel and traveling around the state a bit. This is the type of deal that makes skiing affording for anyone and it gets you on some classic, laid back mountains.

Other Options: Loveland’s Four Packs ring in at $129, but you have to buy them by November 24. Check for sales in your neighborhood or just buy them online.


Buy In: $399;

What You Get: Unlimited access to the mountain (no seasonal blackouts) as well as the cardio pump of the Nordic center. For $799, you can buy a transferable pass.

Extra Resorts: No

Best For: Front Range locals who have had it with the drive to Summit County. Families.

Other Options: Four packs ring in at $149.


Buy In: $509;

What You Get: Lots of options at a nice price. Unlimited days at Copper and Winter Park/Mary Jane.

Extra Resorts: Six days at Steamboat, three at Monarch and five at Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand.

Best For: Fans of these mountains who want to extend the buzz into summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

Other Options: The  4by40 pass dishes out two days at Steamboat and two at Winter Park for $199.


Buy In: $749 ($599 early season);

What You Get: Unlimited days at the Butte. For an extra $200 to $250, you can upgrade to the Peak Pass +, which offers summer lift riding.

Extra Resorts: No

Best For: Crested Butte and Gunnison locals.

Other Options: The Getaway Pass. For $279 you score two days of life tickets for two plus one night’s lodging.

The Mountain Collective

Buy iN: $379;

What You Get: Access to the primo big mountains in the West at a decent price: two days at Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado; two at Jackson Hole, Wyoming; two at Alta or Snowbird, Utah; two at Mammoth, California; two at Whistler, British Columbia, and two at Squaw or Alpine Meadows, California.

Best For: Big mountain skiers who want the big mountain grand tour. People without real jobs.

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