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If you want to ski multiple days or multiple mountains, the best way to keep your per-day lift ticket costs as low as possible is to strategize where you want to ski in a year and purchase the best corresponding ski pass. To help with that goal, let’s compare ski season passes for the 2018 – 2019 season by looking at what is included with the Epic, Mountain Collective, and IKON Pass families…

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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