by Iseult Devlin, originally published in northjersey.com, 3/7/18
Offering access to 26 destinations including several Northeast mountains, the Ikon Pass went on sale March 6 for $899, offering unlimited days at 12 resorts (including Stratton, Tremblant, Steamboat, Squaw Valley, Mammoth) plus extra days at an additional 13 top name resorts like Aspen Snowmass, Deer Valley, Snowbird, Alta, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Killington, Sugarbush, Loon, Sunday River and Sugarloaf. If you’re the kind of person who likes to ski frequently in the East, but also head West, the Ikon could work for you.
Discounted kid passes (12 and under) are $199 until April 9 with the purchase of an adult pass. At $599, the Ikon Base Pass offers unlimited access to eight areas plus extra days at 17 other destinations.
Now in its 10th season, Vail’s Epic Pass for 2018-19 went on sale March 7 for $899. It offers access to 61 resorts including international destinations like France’s Val d’Isere, Austria’s Arlberg, Japan’s Hakuba Valley and Perisher in Australia. The Epic Pass has full access to 11 resorts including Stowe, Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly and Whistler Blackcomb plus extra days at affiliated areas like Telluride, Quebec’s Mont Sainte Anne and worldwide spots.
A child pass (5-12) is $469. The Epic Local Pass is $699 offering unlimited skiing at some resorts like Keystone and Breckenridge and limited days at destinations such as Vail, Whistler Blackcomb, Stowe, Kirkwood but it has some holiday blackout dates.
The new $99 Military Epic Pass is available to active and retired military personnel. Also interesting is the Epic 4-Day ($439) with four unrestricted days at Vail Resorts’ owned areas and other spots, paying for itself in just over two days. It’s a good option for anyone looking to do a quick getaway out West.
Mountain Collective went on sale on March 1 offering a limited number of passes for $409. Newcomer Big Sky, Montana joins the group of 16 including Jackson Hole, Aspen Snowmass, Squaw Valley, Sugarbush, Taos, Sun Valley, Mammoth, Snowbasin and Lake Louise. The deal includes two days at each of its resorts. If purchased this spring before prices go up, buyers get one bonus day at the destination of their choice and two additional days at affiliate resorts such as Valle Nevado, Chili, Niseko, Japan and Chamonix Mont Blanc. Another good option if you’re looking for shorter trips or like a good road trip.
Children 12 and under can get a pass for just $1 if purchased this spring with an adult pass.
Not interested in the West or international ski vacations? The Peak Pass has six pass options valid at seven areas in the Northeast: Vermont’s Mount Snow; Pennsylvania’s Jack Frost/Big Boulder; New York’s Hunter Mountain and New Hampshire’s Attitash, Wildcat, Crotched. The top-level Explorer Pass is $629 if purchase by April 30 and $399 for a youth pass (7-17). The popular Drifter pass is also back $399 for 18-29 year olds.
Take advantage of the value-oriented season passes for next season as resorts compete for customers. Many of these passes offer friends and family perks, lodging discounts and more. Other attractions include $49 down for an Epic Pass if bought this spring and Ikon offer unlimited skiing at Squaw and Mammoth after April 9.
What’s the best deal? Well, it depends on where you want to spend your time skiing. No matter what pass you choose, you can ski at great resorts all season long until it’s time for golf or until your legs can’t take it any more.