It used to be that season passes were only for the die-hard locals. Prices tended to be higher than today’s going rate, and they often only gave pass holders access to a single resort. People had to make a concerted effort to clock enough days just to pay them off. Consequently, day ticket prices were lower, and various package deal offerings meant you could ride frequently without worrying about the often daunting season pass purchase. Those days are long gone.

Today, in response to lower participation levels amongst all winter sports, many resorts have either been purchased by a larger resort group or have created partnerships with others to increase their value. The result has been a drastic influx of multi-destination passes. Vail Resorts led the charge in 2008 with the creation of the Epic Pass, and ever since others have followed suit. All of a sudden the new season pass model has emerged, and it is centered around destination travel. By creating passes that give riders access to a wealth of options, resorts have successfully motivated people to venture beyond their home resort. This has allowed for season pass prices to drop significantly, while day ticket prices have simultaneously skyrocketed. The “locals only” season pass model has officially expired.

Jeff Keenan exiting the white room at Jackson Hole. PHOTO: Owen Ringwall

While the reasoning against multi-resort passes is well grounded and raises valuable concerns in regards to both the local and mountain cultures, the other side of the argument has rested on providing mountain enthusiasts with a surplus of options at an incredibly low rate. However, with a surplus of options and extravagantly marketed deals comes a natural case of consumer confusion. We’re here to help you sort that bit out.

Beginning with the all-new Ikon Pass from Alterra Mountain Company and the long-standing Epic Pass from Vail Resorts, we will look at the two largest and most inclusive offerings to see exactly what you, the consumer, get for all those hard earned dollars. For those not looking to drop in on a large all-inclusive season pass, we will also examine two untraditional multi-destination opportunities, the Mountain Collective Pass the Powder Alliance. So, if you have been holding off on making the big buy until you have ample information, the wait is over at last. We will also be updating this post with relevant information as it becomes available, so make sure to check back as we approach the winter season.


Ikon Pass Explanation and Comparison

The Ikon Pass has caused quite a stir since it was first introduced by Alterra Mountain Company last January. The first pass to put up a serious fight with Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass, the Ikon has been marketed as a similar largely inclusive option for the mountain enthusiast that travels frequently over the course of the winter and makes a substantial effort to spend time on the hill. The Ikon is also similar to the Epic Pass in that it has been offered in two different tiered options; the IKON Pass and the Ikon Base Pass. Here’s what you need to know.

Brandon Davis launches to the moon at Mammoth Mountain, CA - just one of the many mountains included in this year’s Ikon Pass. PHOTO: Adam Moran

Ikon Pass - $999

The full Ikon Pass gives riders access to 34 destinations with absolutely zero blackout dates. Of those 29 mountains, the 14 below give riders access to unlimited days at each:

  1. Mammoth, CA
  2. Steamboat, CO
  3. Stratton, VT
  4. Tremblant, QC
  5. Winter Park, CO
  6. Big Bear, CA
  7. Blue Mountain, ON
  8. June Mountain, CA
  9. Snowshoe, WY
  10. Copper, CO
  11. Eldora, CO
  12. Squaw, CA
  13. Solitude, UT
  14. Crystal Mountain, WA

In addition to the unlimited days at the above 14 resorts, Ikon Pass holders will also receive seven days at Brighton, UT, Thredbo, NSW, Jackson Hole, WY, Big Sky, MT, Killington, VT, Revelstoke, BC, Sugarbush, VT, Aspen Snowmass, CO, Snowbird, UT, Ski Big 3, AB, Sunday River, ME, Sugarloaf, ME, and Loon, NH, Summit at Snoqualmie, WA, Boyne Highlands, MI, Boyne Mountain, MI, Cypress Mountain, WA, Taos, NM, and Niseko, JPN.

Beyond their own pass, owning an Ikon Pass will also allow friends and family benefits for 10 days at any included resort for 25% off of the ticketed window price. Learn more about the IKON Pass, here.

Bear Mountain has long been regarded a terrain park mecca for freestyle inclined riders. PHOTO: Andy Wright

Ikon Base Pass - $699

The Ikon Base Pass gives riders access to 34 destinations with 10 total blackout dates. Of those 29 mountains, the 12 below give access to unlimited days at each:

  1. Mammoth, CA*
  2. Tremblant, QC
  3. Winter Park, CO
  4. Big Bear, CA
  5. Blue Mountain, ON
  6. June Mountain, CA*
  7. Snowshoe, WY
  8. Copper, CO
  9. Eldora, CO
  10. Solitude, UT*
  11. Squaw, CA*
  12. Crystal Mountain, WA

*Blackout Dates: Dec 26 – 31, 2018; Jan 19 – 20, 2019; Feb 16 – 17, 2019

In addition to the unlimited days at the above 12 resorts, Ikon Pass holders will also receive five days at Brighton, UT, Steamboat, CO, Stratton, VT, Thredbo, NSW, Jackson Hole, WY, Big Sky, MT, Killington, VT, Revelstoke, BC, Sugarbush, VT, Aspen Snowmass, CO, Snowbird, UT, Ski Big 3, AB, Sunday River, ME, Sugarloaf, ME, and Loon, NH, Summit at Snoqualmie, WA, Boyne Highlands, MI, Boyne Mountain, MI, Cypress Mountain, WA, Taos, NM, and Niseko, JPN.

Beyond their own pass, owning an Ikon Base Pass will also allow friends and family benefits for 8 days at any included resort for 25% of the ticketed window price. Learn more about the Ikon Base Pass, here.

Squaw Valley, CA is a powder rider’s dream, and another of many included in this season’s Ikon Pass. PHOTO: Chris Wellhausen

Is the Ikon Pass for You?

As a good rule of thumb, unless you are planning extensive travel throughout the season, it is wise to purchase a pass that allows for unlimited access at your home resort. You’re going to want it when you get that surprise mid-week powder day this January. Because the only resort on the East Coast with unlimited access on the Ikon Pass is Stratton, VT, the Ikon pass is not recommended to anyone on the East Coast that either doesn’t call Stratton home, or that doesn’t plan on significant travel throughout the season. Riders who call Stratton home will benefit from the Ikon Pass by receiving unlimited days at their home resort, with the added benefit of free riding at any of the other included mountains should they chose to travel throughout the season. Others that will benefit from the Ikon Pass are riders that call California and Colorado home, as these states feature the most included resorts.

One of many Colorado resorts included on this season’s Ikon Pass, Copper Colorado has been known for their world class terrain parks for years. PHOTO: Chip Proulx


Epic Pass Explanation and Comparison

The first season pass to explore the multi-resort format, Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass was introduced in 2008 and has grown every year since. Just this spring, Vail Resorts announced its most recent acquisition of Okemo Mountain, Vermont, Mount Sunapee, New Hampshire, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colorado, and Stevens Pass, Washington, and subsequently added all five resorts to the 2018/19 Epic Pass. The Epic Pass comes in two different tiered options, the Epic Pass and the Epic Local Pass. Of these, the Epic Pass is currently the most all-inclusive season pass on the market and at its current price point, is also the best deal on the market for riders looking to maximize resort access. But don’t sleep on this one, unlike the other available season pass deals, the Epic and Epic Local Passes will both jump in price soon.

Whistler Blackcomb is new to the Epic Pass for the 2018/19 season. PHOTO: Scott Serfas

Epic Pass - $929*

The complete Epic Pass may just be the most inclusive season pass available, allowing riders with the Epic Pass access to a total of 65 destinations with absolutely zero blackout dates. Of those 65 total destinations, the below 19 are included with unlimited access:

  1. Vail, CO
  2. Whistler Blackcomb, BC
  3. Park City, UT
  4. Heavenly, CA
  5. Kirkwood, CA
  6. Wilmot, WI
  7. Mt. Brighton, MI
  8. Arapahoe Basin, CO
  9. Mount Sunapee, VT
  10. Stevens Pass, WA
  11. Beaver Creek, CO
  12. Breckenridge, CO
  13. Keystone, CO
  14. Northstar, CA
  15. Stowe, VT
  16. Afton Alps, MN
  17. Perisher, NSW
  18. Okemo, VT
  19. Crested Butte, CO

*The Epic Pass price will increase on October 7th.

In addition to the unlimited days at the above 19 resorts, Epic Pass holders will also receive seven days at Telluride, CO, seven days total at resorts of the Canadian Rockies, and five days total at resorts of Hakuba, Japan. Learn more about the Epic Pass, here.

Ryan Wachendorfer locks into a slide at the resort that started it all for the Epic Pass. PHOTO: Daniel Milchev

Epic Local Pass - $689*

The Epic Pass’ little brother, the Epic Local Pass, provides riders with access to 27 total destinations and a total of 13 blackout dates. Of the 27 total resorts included, riders will have access to unlimited days at the below 15 resorts:

  1. Park City, UT**
  2.  Heavenly, CA**
  3. Kirkwood, CA**
  4. Wilmot, WI
  5. Mt. Brighton, MI
  6. Arapahoe Basin, CO
  7. Mount Sunapee, VT
  8. Stevens Pass, WA
  9. Breckenridge, CO
  10. Keystone, CO
  11. Northstar, CA**
  12. Stowe, VT**
  13. Afton Alps, MN
  14. Okemo, VT
  15. Crested Butte, CO

*The Epic Local Pass price will increase on OCtober 7th.
**Blackout Dates: Nov 23-24, 2018; Dec 26-31,2018; Jan 19, 2019; Feb 16-17, 2019

In addition to the unlimited days at the above 15 resorts, Epic Local Pass holders will receive an additional 10 days total between Vail, CO, Beaver Creek, CO, and Whistler Blackcomb, BC. In addition to this, for the 2018/19 season, Epic Local Pass holder will also receive five days total at resorts of Hakuba, Japan. Learn more about the Epic Local Pass, here.

Zak Hale makes his way through the endless playground that is the Park City terrain parks. PHOTO: Rob Mathis

Is the Epic Pass for You?

Similar to the IKON Pass, the Epic and Epic Local Passes mostly benefit people that either call one of the many resorts included their home resort, or they plan to extensively travel throughout the season. While day prices vary from resort to resort, if you are planning to go on a week-long vacation to anywhere included on either pass you will likely benefit from snagging a season pass and paying it off in only a short period of time. The Epic and Epic Local Passes have both been growing at an astonishing rate and are expected to include even more resorts in the near future.


Mountain Collective Pass Explanation and Comparison

Brock Crouch takes to the sky at Aspen Snowmass, one of many resorts with days included on the Mountain Collective Pass. PHOTO: Chris Wellhausen

Unlike the IKON and Epic Passes, the Mountain Collective Pass is not a season pass to any individual resort, so much as a season pass for the rider that prefers to travel and experience a little bit of what every mountain has to offer. Now in its sixth season, the Mountain Collective Pass has grown each year and now offers riders access to slopes around the world, including Japan and Australia.

Mountain Collective Pass - $449*

Instead of giving a rider unlimited access to any individual mountain, the Mountain Collective Pass gives riders access two days at each of the 16 included resorts with absolutely zero blackout dates:

  1. Aspen Snowmass, CO
  2. Banff Sunshine, AB
  3. Big Sky Resort, MT
  4. Coronet Peak + The Remarkables, NSW
  5. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY
  6. Lake Louise, AB
  7. Mammoth Mountain, CA
  8. Niseko United, JPN
  9. Revelstoke Mountain Resort, BC
  10. Snowbasin Resort, UT
  11. Snowbird, UT
  12. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, CA
  13. Sugarbush Resort, VT
  14. Sun Valley Resort, ID
  15. Taos Ski Valley, NM
  16. Thredbo Alpine Village, AUS

In addition to the two days at each of the above 16 resort destinations, Mountain Collective Pass holders will also receive 50% off additional days at each of the included resorts, along with added benefits and deals on lodging, restaurants, and retail locations. Learn more about the Mountain Collective Pass, here.

(Editor’s Note: The Mountain Collective Pass actually gives access to 17 resorts, however, as Alta does not allow snowboarders on their slope, for all intents and purposes we have chosen to view it as 16)

Rob Kingwill gets shacked up at his home mountain of Jackson Hole, WY. PHOTO: Owen Ringwall

Is the Mountain Collective Pass for You?

Because the Mountain Collective Pass only offers two days at each resort, it is primarily designed for the rider who is actively traveling throughout the season and striving to enjoy a little bit of all that each of the resorts offers. However, because you can get additional days at each resort for 50% off, riders who only plan to ride a total of 5-6 days throughout the entire season will still save money by purchasing the Mountain Collective Pass over 5-6 individual day passes at any of the included resorts.


Powder Alliance Explanation and Comparison

Manuel Diaz launches a timeless method at Stevens Pass, WA, one of many passes part of the Powder Alliance package.

The Powder Alliance program works a bit differently than the three before mentioned season pass deals. This is primarily because instead of purchasing through the Powder Alliance and getting a package deal for all included partners, you purchase the pass from your local resort. Instead of thinking of it as a season pass, think about it as a collection of smaller mountains that have partnered to make their own passes more valuable. By purchasing a season pass from your local resort, you will then also get three free days at each of the other 19 included mountains. Due to this, the price of a Powder Alliance Pass is subject to the price of your home mountain’s season pass. The other resorts that you will get a total of three days each at are:

  1. Whitewater, BC
  2. Stevens Pass, WA
  3. Timberline, OR
  4. Bogus Basin, ID
  5. Bridger Bowl, UT
  6. Mt. Hood Ski Bowl, OR
  7. Loveland, CO
  8. Sierra at Tahoe, CA
  9. Arizona Snowbowl, AZ
  10. Angel Fire, NM
  11. Silver Star, BC
  12. Schweitzer, ID
  13. China Peak, CA
  14. Mountain High, CA
  15. Castle Mountain, AB
  16. Monarch, CO
  17. Sugar Bowl, CA
  18. Marmot Basin, AB
  19. La Parva, CL
  20. Kiroro, JPN

In addition to the three extra days at each of the mountains included in the Powder Alliance, there are various deals on lodging and retail that riders can take advantage of when traveling. Learn more about the Powder Alliance, here.

Jamie Anderson sends it over a sizable gap at Sierra at Tahoe, one of many resorts participating in the Powder Alliance. PHOTO: Brian Walker

Is the Powder Alliance for You?

Unlike the other three pass offerings, the Powder Alliance is not necessarily a new season pass offering, so much as an added value to your local home mountain’s season pass. Because of this, if your home resort is one of the 20 included resorts, then you will automatically get three free days at the 19 other resorts. If you do not call any of the partner resorts your home base, and do not plan to spend significant time at any of the above resorts, then we do not reccoment pursuing the Powder Alliance.


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