Comparing Ski Season Passes for the 2018 – 2019 Season

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This year’s ski season is not yet in the history books, but it will begin wrapping up with closing dates at many mountains scheduled as soon as this weekend. I hate packing away my ski gear for the year, but as they say, there’s always next season. Believe it or not, the best time to purchase a ski pass at the lowest price is in the spring, as in right now.

 

If you think that ski passes are just for those who live near the mountains, I totally understand that logic, but I encourage you to think again. I live in Texas, far from the closest mountain, but purchasing a seven-day Epic Pass saved my family hundreds of dollars over purchasing individual lift tickets to Whistler, Vail, and Keystone this season. Believe it or not, a one-day lift ticket at a resort like Vail can be as high as $199, so If you are going to ski more than a few days in a ski season, the math will often point to investing in one of the many types of ski passes to keep your per day costs as low as possible.

While there are a seemingly endless number of ski passes out there, there are three massive pass families available that cover a wide variety of mountains. These are the Mountain Collective, Epic, and brand new IKON passes. All three of these ski passes are currently offering some incentive or discount to lock your in 2018 – 2019 pass within the next few days or weeks. I love planning ahead, but committing to a specific ski pass for an entire season is a pretty big deal as you are then either locked into skiing at just those locations, or you will end up spending even more money to visit a resort that isn’t included on your primary pass.

Since the deadlines for the spring discounts and incentives are upon us, let’s compare what the three main ski passes have to offer for the 2018 season.

Mountain Collective

Prices:

  • $409 adults, children 12 and under are $1 with the purchase of an adult pass
  • Children are $99 without the purchase of a corresponding adult pass

Spring Incentives:

These above Mountain Collective prices are valid for a limited quantity number of passes as opposed to ending on a set date. Their website states that supplies at those prices are almost sold out, but it often says that for a little while before prices actually change. That said, children will not stay at just $1 as we approach the next ski season.

Mountain Collective has a family of resorts where you get two days included at each resort with no blackout dates, then 50% off additional ski days. If you purchase while supplies last this spring, you get a third included day at the resort of your choice.

Included Resorts:

  • Alta
  • Aspen Snowmass
  • Banff
  • Big Sky
  • Coronet Peak | The Remarkables
  • Jackson Hole
  • Lake Louise
  • Mammoth
  • Revelstoke
  • Snowbasin
  • Snowbird
  • Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
  • Sugarbush
  • Sun Valley
  • Taos
  • Thredbo Alpine Village

IKON Pass

Prices:

  • IKON Base Pass is $599 for an adult pass, $149 for children 5 – 12 (with adult purchase through April 9th), and $29 for children 4 and under.
  • The full IKON Pass is $899 for an adult pass, $199 for children 5 – 12 (with adult pass purchase through April 9th), and $29 for children 4 and under.

Spring Incentives:

On April 9th, the price of a child’s pass goes from the prices above to $449 for the full IKON Pass and $299 for the IKON Base Pass. Be aware that the ages of children in terms of which pass to purchase is based on the date of purchase, so purchasing a milestone birthday that would bump a child to a higher price category is a good idea.

There are two types of IKON passes – the full IKON Pass has no holiday restrictions, a longer list of unlimited resorts, and more days at the resorts that are available up to a maximum number of days. The IKON Base Pass comes in with some date restrictions, a shorter list of mountains with unlimited skiing, and fewer included days at additional resorts…but it still has tons of included skiing.

Included Resorts:

The IKON Base Pass gets you unlimited ski days at:

  • Winter Park Resort
  • Copper Mountain Resort
  • Eldora Mountain Resor
  • Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows (holiday restrictions)
  • Big Bear Mountain Resort
  • June Mountain
  • Tremblant
  • Blue Mountain
  • Snowshoe Mountain

You then get 5 days at each of these resorts (with holiday restrictions):

  • Steamboat
  • Mammoth Mountain
  • Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
  • Big Sky Resort
  • Revelstoke Mountain Resort
  • Stratton
  • Killington Resort
  • Sugarbush Resort
  • Deer Valley Resort

You also get 5 combined days at each of these families of mountains (with holiday restrictions)

  • Aspen Snowmass: Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk
  • AltaSnowbird
  • Loon Mountain, Sugarloaf and Sunday River
  • SkiBig3: Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay

The holiday restrictions on this pass are reasonable as they are just the most peak ski dates of December 26 – December 31, 2018; January 19 – 20, 2019; and February 16 – 17, 2019. Remember that the holiday restrictions won’t impact your skiing at some of the resorts such as Winter Park, Copper Mountain, Tremblant, Big Bear, etc. If you are on a school schedule, you could ski those resorts during the peak holiday dates and then hit some of the other mountains the rest of the time.

The pricier full IKON Pass gets you unlimited ski days at:

  • Steamboat
  • Winter Park Resort
  • Copper Mountain Resort
  • Eldora Mountain Resort
  • Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
  • Mammoth Mountain
  • Big Bear Mountain Resort
  • June Mountain
  • Stratton
  • Snowshoe Mountain
  • Tremblant
  • Blue Mountain

You then get 7 days at each of these resorts:

  • Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
  • Big Sky Resort
  • Revelstoke Mountain Resort
  • Killington Resort
  • Sugarbush Resort
  • Deer Valley Resort

You also get 7 days combined at each of these families of mountains:

  • Aspen Snowmass: Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk
  •  AltaSnowbird
  • Loon Mountain, Sugarloaf and Sunday River
  • SkiBig3: Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay

There are no holiday date restrictions on the IKON Pass. Unlike with the other passes, Spring Skiing is included at some IKON Pass locations. As of March 6, 2018, you can use your 2018 – 2019 IKON Pass at Big Bear Mountain Resort (Bear Mountain, Snow Summit) and Blue Mountain. Beginning April 9, 2018, spring skiing is included at Mammoth Mountain, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, and Winter Park Resort.

Epic Pass

Prices:

  • Unlimited Epic Pass is $899 for an adult pass, $469 for children 5 – 12
  • Epic Seven Day is $669 for adults, $359 children 5 – 12
  • Epic Four Day is $439 for adults, $239 children 5 – 12
  • Epic Local Pass is $669 for adults, $549 for teens, and $359 for children 5 – 12

Spring Incentives:

All of those passes are available now for $49 down. If you purchase an unlimited Epic Pass by April 15, 2018, you get six included discounted buddy passes.

There are many different types of Epic Passes ranging from unlimited skiing, to seven unrestricted days, four unrestricted days, and even ‘local’ versions with more date and mountain restrictions.

Included Resorts:

With the Epic Pass, you get unlimited access at these resorts.

  • Vail
  • Beaver Creek
  • Whistler Blackcomb
  • Breckenridge
  • Park City
  • Keystone
  • Heavenly
  • Northstar
  • Kirkwood
  • Stowe
  • Wilmot
  • Afton Alps
  • Mt. Brighton
  • Perisher
  • Arapahoe Basin

You will also get seven included days at each of these resorts:

  • Telluride
  • Crested Butte
  • Okemo
  • Mount Sunapee

With the Epic unlimited pass, you also get seven total days at these resorts:

  • Fernie Alpine Resort
  • Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
  • Kimberley Alpine Resort
  • Nakiska Ski Area
  • Mont-Sainte Anne
  • Stoneham
The pass even includes some ski days at resorts in France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Japan.

With the Epic 7 Day that I had this year, you get seven days unrestricted included at any of the resorts listed above plus a total of seven days at Wilmot, Afton Alps, and Mt. Brighton. With the Epic 4 Day, you get four unrestricted days plus a total of four days at Wilmot, Afton Alps, and Mt. Brighton.

The Epic Local Pass is worth a look if you are okay working around some date restrictions because it is the same price as the Epic 7 Day, but includes unlimited skiing at mountains such as Breckenridge, Keystone, and A-Basin, unlimited skiing outside of peak holiday days at mountains such as Park City and Stowe, and then a set number of ski dates outside of the peak winter holidays at Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler, and beyond. If you are willing to read fine print and want to ski more than seven days at a variety of mountains this could be your best bet.

There are also other passes available in the Epic family such as the Keystone and A-Basin passes that are $349 with some restrictions, and a fantastic $99 Epic pass for active duty and retired military.

Which ski pass should you purchase

If you don’t yet know your ski plans for next season, my best advice is to not jump at the spring incentives and make a purchase you might regret later. Since I skied Epic resorts this season, I lean away from doing that next season, though they have some killer resorts where you can stay using your hotel points in Vail, Breckenridge, Whistler, Keystone, and more.

Stay at the Hyatt Place Keystone using points

The Mountain Collective is extremely enticing from a pricing standpoint for families with kids ages 5 – 12, especially with the bonus day third day at one mountain that you get by purchasing in the near term. If we got this pass, we would most certainly use SPG points to stay at the Westin Snowmass to use three of our ski days at that family-friendly mountain, and then work on selecting our additional mountains from places such as Mammoth and Jackson Hole where you can also use points to stay in the area.

The Ikon Base Pass is very interesting as it offers basically unlimited skiing for $599 for adults and $149 for kids through April 9th. With it, you get unlimited skiing at many resorts such as Copper Mountain, Winter Park, and Tremblant with multiple ski days included at the Aspen family of resorts, Steamboat, Mammoth, and many more available with some peak holiday restrictions. If I had to pick a pass today that I think would best meet my family’s needs for next year, the Ikon Base Pass would be it since we aren’t planning ski between Christmas and New Year’s where there are blackout dates, but do hope to visit some included IKON Pass mountains. Specifically, I am very excited about Snowmass with its great hybrid ski school program for three-year-olds as next year will be our toddler’s first year on the slopes!

Aspen Snowmass Treehouse

I know this is all a ton of information to inhale, but I would love to hear your 2018 – 2019 ski pass strategy!

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The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. Which pass would you consider the “best” for those who will be traveling to the resorts on Southwest?

    • I’ve looked over the three passes, and scanned the lists of resorts again here, and it really depends on where you want to ski. DEN, SLC, RNO, and BOI all have good service on Southwest, and each pass has resorts in those areas.

    • pick based on the resorts you want to visit, not the airline. SWA will cover plenty on either IKON or EPIC. also…maybe you want to leave the country as well….

      • You have a bunch of good options on Southwest assuming you are okay driving from Denver to many of the Colorado resorts like Aspen, Vail, Breck, Keystone, etc. So you are kind of just back to picking where you want to go the most since all three pass families have some good resorts within easy driving distance from SWA airports.

  2. I wanted to add: Epic Pass has two military passes, one for $99 for current Active Duty, Guard and Reserve, and one for more for veterans & retired. Neither has blackout dates.

    Neither of the other passes have a similar military discount. So if you are eligible and of course, you are willing to ski the Vail Resorts group, the Epic is the hands-down choice.

      • Ah, yes you did! Needless to say, $99 for unlimited – that’s the pass I got.

        One thing I appreciate, as an Army Reserve member, is that Epic is really clear on the web site as to who is eligible and for what pass, with what type of verification, and, that they (clearly) include Reserve and Guard members along with current Active Duty.

        They also include Canadian and Australian military.

  3. I’d just like to add there are good options for single resort ski passes too. $459 for Copper Mountain season pass and include a free kids season pass plus a couple of free days at other resorts.

    I made a simple ski pass comparison with the major passes plus some Colorado individual resorts for the 2018/2019 season.

  4. Ikon wins it for me this season. BONUS that I’m not done yet, so I’ll keep skiing at Winter Park and Snowbird this season. I’m out of Houston as well!

  5. Why on earth is there no mention of EPIC Local? You know you don’t actually have to be a local to use it…right?

    • Well I guess there’s a brief mention, but certainly not listed as an “option” or details about it. It’s the same price as the 7 day, but will actually be better for most people

      • I’ll go back and beef that section up. It was all just starting to feel like information overload, so I cut corners where I thought it made sense to avoid making it any longer than it already was. Ha!

    • I’m afraid the MAX Pass is no longer available. The Ikon best matches it, though the Mountain Collective has overlap as well. I used the MAX Pass this season. It was such a great deal. I’m still spring skiing with it here in WA now. I’m really bummed none of these passes include any Pacific NW resorts.

      I purchased the Mountain Collective for 2018-19.

  6. Hi Summer,

    As an avid skier, I LOVE your coverage of skiing in the context of the miles & points world! Just a quick update I noticed about the IKON pass (which I’ve bought already for next year, because it fits in best with my location, plans, etc). Since IKON initially announced this pass, they’ve moved Mammoth Mountain to the UNLIMITED category (instead of just five days). Could be a big change for Cali folks!

  7. Thanks for the reminder. We have always skied and stayed in condos at Alta/snowbird/Brighton/solitude for our 1-2 x year trip out of the heat. Mostly the latter two due to cheaper condos and lower lift ticket prices (for instance, kids 10 and younger ski free at brighton.). Now I am thinking about a pass as we should be able to do Christmas and Spring Break next year (3 kids under 12 and one teenager). Decisions… I will say for our crew I have all but given up on finding a points deal for hotels…even two rooms. We need a kitchen! I am thinking Ikon…

  8. So sad to think of what may happen to the smaller resorts with this level of pricing by the mega-conglomerates. Your historic mom-and-pop ski areas are more in danger now than ever before.

    • I’m bummed our two WA resorts that were included in maxpass are left out of the Ikon. But, they may actually do better on revenue lost from those of us who got the maxpass and skipped season tickets last year (5 days at each place was plenty).

  9. thanks for all the ski content and analysis.. I find that the biggest cost in skiing is not lift tickets but lodging and meals. We will alternate between Ikon and Epic pass as they are both really good. I think epic is better in terms of points hotel coverage and beginner friendly resorts but Ikon has more advanced terrain.

    I bought the epic pass this year and will go to keystone and park city next year with my 3 year old.

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