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How to ski next winter for less than $300 with the Indy Pass

March 04, 2022
9 min read
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There's no sugar-coating it. Skiing can definitely be an expensive sport. Between the gear, the lessons and on-mountain food, a day on the slopes can truly add up -- not including the cost of your actual lift tickets.

However, here's a secret to keep your costs down and ski at independent resorts: the IndyPass.

As one of the most reasonably priced passes in the ski industry, it allows pass holders to ski up to 164 days for less than $300. Most won't get anywhere near 164 ski days out of the pass, but even with a small fraction of that you can still come out way ahead.

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The Indy Pass works slightly different than most traditional big-name passes -- such as the Epic Pass or Ikon Pass -- where you'll receive only two days at each participating mountain for the winter. But with 82 participating mountains (71 in the continental U.S., one in Alaska, six in Canada and four in Japan), you'll have many options as you plot out next winter's ski trips.

Here's what you need to know.

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Visit Jay Peak with the Indy Pass (photo by Indy Pass /Jay Peak)

Which resorts are part of the Indy Pass?

The mountains that participate with the Indy Pass consist of more independent resorts, where you may have a slightly different vibe and perhaps even shorter lift lines than at the mega-resorts. Fortunately, Indy has done a great job at recruiting mountains that are geographically grouped close to one another. So even though you're capped at two visits per mountain, you can still make a ski vacation out of it by visiting multiple resorts in one trip.

Related: Best annual ski pass: Battle between Epic, Ikon, Mountain Collective and Indy

When looking ahead to next season, Indy believes that the current mountains will stay on the pass for the 2022 - 2023 ski season, but there isn't 100% confirmation just yet (all details will be announced by May 1, 2022). Although, over the past four years, it's rare to see a resort leave.

Instead, we've seen many more resorts being added -- some even mid-season. As of right now, the resorts include:

West Region:

  • California: China Peak, Mt. Shasta Ski Park and Snow Valley
  • Oregon: Hoodoo Ski Area and Mt. Ashland
  • Washington: 49 Degrees North Mountain Resort, Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area, Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort, White Pass Ski Area
  • Alaska: Eaglecrest Ski Area
  • British Columbia, Canada: Apex Mountain Resort, Manning Park, Sasquatch Mountain and Sovereign Lake Nordic Center

Rockies Region:

  • Arizona: Sunrise Park Resort
  • Colorado: Sunlight Mountain Resort,
  • Idaho: Brundage Mountain Resort, Pomerelle Mountain Resort, Silver Mountain Resort, Soldier Mountain and Tamarack Resort
  • Montana: Blacktail Mountain, Lost Trail Powder Mountain and Red Lodge Mountain
  • Utah: Beaver Mountain, Eagle Point Resort and Powder Mountain
  • Wyoming: Antelope Butte, Snow King Mountain, White Pine Ski Resort
  • Alberta, Canada: Castle Mountain Resort, Ski Marmot Basin

Midwest Region:

  • Iowa: Seven Oaks and Sundown Mountain
  • Michigan: Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort, Caberfae Peaks, Crystal Mountain, Pine Mountain Resort, Schuss Mountain at Shanty Creek, Swiss Valley Ski and Snowboard Area
  • Minnesota: Buck Hill Ski & Snowboard Area, Detroit Mountain Recreation Area, Lutsen Mountains, Powder Ridge Winter Recreation Area and Spirit Mountain
  • South Dakota: Terry Peak Ski Area
  • Wisconsin: Granite Peak, Little Switzerland, Nordic Mountain, The Rock Snowpark, Trollhaugen, Tyrol Basin Ski and Snowboard Area

East Region:

  • Connecticut: Mohawk Mountain
  • Maine: Saddleback Mountain
  • Massachusetts: Berkshire East Mountain Resort
  • New Hampshire: Black Mountain Ski Area, Cannon Mountain, Pats Peak and Waterville Valley Resort
  • New York: Catamount Mountain Resort, Greek Peak Mountain Resort, Snow Ridge, Swain Resort, Titus Mountain and West Mountain
  • Vermont: Bolton Valley Resort, Jay Peak, Magic Mountain Ski Area and Suicide Six Ski Area

Mid-Atlantic Region:

  • North Carolina: Cataloochee Ski Area
  • Pennsylvania: Blue Knob All Seasons Resort, Montage Mountain, Shawnee Mountain Ski Area
  • Tennessee: Ober Gatlinburg
  • Virginia: Bryce Resort, Massanutten Resort
  • West Virginia: Canaan Valley Resort, Winterplace Ski Resort

Japan Region:

  • Tohoku, Japan: Geto Kogen, Okunakayama Kogen, Shimokura and Tazawako

Pairing mountains together for a larger ski vacation

With many resorts in close-ish proximity to one another, it's possible to plan a great ski vacation while enjoying multiple mountains. While there are many options, here are a few resorts you can visit in one trip:

Southern Vermont and The Berkshires: Stay near Berkshire East Mountain Resort and you can also visit Magic Mountain (an hour and a half north) and Catamount Mountain Resort (an hour and a half south).

Northern Vermont: Stay near Bolton Valley and you have Jay Peak (an hour and a half to the north) and Suicide Six (just over an hour to the south). If you're skiing with kids, though, you might thoroughly enjoy staying at Jay Peak with their amazing water park.

New Hampshire: There are actually four mountains in close proximity to one another -- Black Mountain, Cannon Mountain, Pats Peak and Waterville Valley. Pat's Peak is further south than the other three. However, if you position yourself in the White Mountains, you'll be less than an hour and a half away from all four mountains.

Additionally, if you're looking for ski school for your kids, I highly recommend Waterville Valley. They run a wonderful program and have some of the best pricing for full-day lessons.

Ski school at Waterville Valley (photo by Jennifer Yellin)

Indy Pass pricing

There are two different Indy Pass options -- one that has blackout dates and one which allows you to visit any date during the opening season.

If you don't want to be bothered with blackout dates, which primarily include holiday weekends, Saturdays and/or Sundays at select (although limited) resorts, you'll want to purchase the Indy+ Pass. Currently, blackout dates for next year's season haven't been announced, but Indy states that they'll release the information by May 1, 2022 -- well before the price increase.

Through May 17, the pricing for next year's Indy Pass is:

  • Indy Pass Adult: $279
  • Indy Pass Kid (12 and under): $119
  • Indy+ Pass Adult: $379 (no blackout dates)
  • Indy+ Pass Kid (12 and under): $169 (no blackout dates)

There are also a few ways to receive an even greater discount. If you're already a passholder for a mega-resort (such as Epic, Ikon or Mountain Collective), you can purchase the Indy Switch Pass through May 17, 2022. This will give you a $20 discount on the adult pass and a $10 discount for a kid's pass.

Or, if you have a season pass to one of the 82 participating mountains already, you can purchase the Indy Pass as an add-on option for even less at a $90 discount for an adult pass and a $30 discount for a child pass.

All of these passes include the same resorts and a cap of two visits per mountain. Additionally, all passholders receive a 25% discount on the third day.

One thing to note is that some of the resorts require advance reservations or limit the number of tickets sold per day. Some resorts changed their policy throughout the 2021/2022 season, so you'll want to pay attention to policies that are put in place for the next season.

Ski this spring for even less

If you are looking for a way to head to the mountain this spring, Indy also offers a Spring Pass where you can ski at all participating mountains this year from March 1 through the end of the season. This is a great opportunity if you haven't yet been able to hit the slopes and you're looking for some spring-like conditions. Even just going two or three times might make the Spring Pass worth it. You can also visit a third day at a 25% discount.

  • Indy Spring Pass Adult: $189
  • Indy Spring Pass Kid (12 and under): $79
  • Indy+ Spring Pass Adult: $239 (no blackout dates)
  • Indy+ Spring Pass Kid (12 and under): $99 (no blackout dates)

Similar to the regular Indy Pass, there's an Indy+ option which includes all the same mountains, but there's no blackout dates. For the Spring Pass, there are 9 different resorts which include blackout dates, most of them falling on Saturdays and/or Sundays (and just for the first two weeks of March).

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Is the Indy Pass worth it?

If you enjoy going to the same mountain over and over again or are just planning one longer ski vacation at one mountain, then the Indy Pass is not the right pass for you.

However, if you like visiting different mountains even two or three times in the season and can make the available regions work for you, the Indy Pass is potentially the best deal out there. At about a third of the price of the Ikon Pass, the Indy Pass can truly allow you to ski at a significantly reduced price per day. Since many of the resorts cost $70-$100 per day for single-day tickets, you can break even between three and four days.

With this year's ski season rounding its last corner, it's never too early to figure out next year's plan. (And you may want to go ahead and lock your points-friendly ski lodging in for next season now before some Hyatt and Marriott properties get more expensive later this month.)

Fortunately, you have until May to figure out if the Indy Pass is the right pass for you and your family at the current rates.

Featured image by Benjamin Moisen
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases