With dozens of multi-resort season passes, why ski in one place? Here are a few ways to ski and ride around the state—and the world.
In the current era of massive multi-resort season passes, most ski areas do as much as they can to incentivize skiers and riders to buy their time on the hill before lifts start turning. And this year there are more passes than ever. But keep in mind, many of them (such as the Epic Pass) go off sale.
In Vermont, this can mean that you may pay a steep price if you buy your ticket at the window the day you plan to ski—but it also means that with a little foresight, you can score some sweet deals.
Most ski areas offer lift tickets on a sliding scale, with cheaper lift ticket rates on weekdays and heftier prices on holidays like Christmas week, New Years’, President’s Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, along with weekends and Vermont’s life-saving February break.
Stowe, Okemo, Stratton and Sugarbush all use dynamic pricing to sell their tickets, meaning they change the price frequently to incentivize skiers to hit the slopes during less-popular periods.
Arrive day-of on a holiday, and you may see a $200 ticket price at one of the larger resorts because demand is high. Buy your tickets in October, and you can score as much as half off the average ticket price. That said, if you decide to make a spontaneous trip to one of the state’s smaller ski areas you can still find deals. At Suicide Six, Magic Mountain, Middlebury Snow Bowl and Burke, you can ski last minute for less than $80. At Cochran’s Ski Area, a ticket is $19 a day and at Hard’Ack it’s free!
But if you are planning to ski more than six days, a season’s pass usually pays off. Here’s what’s on tap for this season.
At $969 (13+) and $509 (5-12), the Epic Pass earns skiers unlimited skiing and riding at 20 resorts including Stowe Mountain Resort, Okemo Mountain Resort and (upon closing of the proposed sale) to 17 Peak Resorts, including Mount Snow and Wildcat and Attitash in New Hampshire. It also offers limited access to 40 ski areas across Europe, Australia and Japan. Notable Epic Pass newcomers include Snowbasin in Utah, Japan’s Rusutsu and Australia’s Falls Creek, Hotham and Perisher.
If you plan to ski at Okemo or Mount Snow this season,the Epic Local Pass, at $719 (19+), $579 (13-18) and $379 (5-12) is the way to go. The pass offers unlimited access to 26 resorts, including Okemo and Mount Snow, plus non-holiday skiing at Stowe and four other ski areas, with limited days at a slew of resorts that includes Vail, Beaver Creek and Whistler Blackcomb, B.C. It’s also cheaper and more comprehensive than the Peak Explorer Pass ($849).
Planning to ski fewer than seven days? Try the new Epic Day Pass. By purchasing anywhere from one to seven day tickets in advance, skiers earn as much as 50 percent off window lift ticket prices and access to any of the 34 resorts Vail Resorts owns and operates in North America. Vail has not said when it will stop selling Epic Day Passes for the 2019-2020 season, but Epic Day rates start at $109 a day, nearly half of a standard holiday window price. epicpass.com
Buy a season’s pass at Bolton Valley or Magic Mountain, and you automatically get three free days of skiing at 18 other “soul-filled” ski areas across the United States, ranging from Black Mountain in Jackson, N.H. to Sipapu, New Mexico, the Arizona Snowbowl or Purgatory, Colorado. All you do is show up at a Freedom Pass resort and bring your participating season pass to the ticket window to collect your free day ticket. freedompass.ski
If you’re a Stratton skier or you plan to ski around New England, this year’s Ikon Pass is a great option. At $1,049 (23+), the Ikon Pass offers unlimited skiing and riding at 14 resorts across North America, including Stratton in Vermont, Tremblant in Quebec and Steamboat, Co. The pass offers seven days of skiing at each of 26 other ski areas across the northern and southern hemispheres, including Killington, Pico and Sugarbush in Vermont, Loon Mountain in N.H., Sugarloaf and Sunday River in Maine. New for this year, the pass added seven days of skiing at Alta/Snowbird in Utah and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado, as well as Switzerland’s Zermatt Matterhorn Ski Paradise, Europe’s highest ski area. Mt Butler in Australia is also a newcomer, as are Thredbo in Australia, Coronet Peak in New Zealand and Valle Nevado in Chile. For $749, the Ikon Base Pass offers unlimited skiing at 12 resorts (including Mt. Tremblant) and up to five days of skiing or riding at 28 resorts—many subject to blackout dates. ikonpass.com
New for 2019-2020, the Indy Pass ($199) gets you two days of skiing at each of 44 independent resorts, totaling 68 days of skiing and riding. With 14 Western resorts, eight MidWestern resorts and 12 resorts along the East Coast, it’s a great deal for folks looking to make a circuit of America’s independently owned and operated ski areas.
In Vermont, Magic Mountain, Suicide Six and Bolton Valley have joined the Indy Pass, along with Pats Peak in New Hampshire, Greek Peak in New York and Berkshire East in Mass. indyskipass.com
If you’re really looking to explore the Northeast Kingdom, this pass, at $1,009 may be the way to go. Available for skiers and riders 30-59, with cheaper rates for those younger or older, it features unrestricted access to Burke Mountain and Jay Peak. skiburke.com or jaypeak.com.
Mountain Collective Pass
The Mountain Collective Pass ($489 for adults; $199 for kids 12 and under) adds Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin to its portfolio, giving skiers and riders two days of skiing at each of 18 resorts for a total of 36 skier days. Sugarbush Resort is the only East Coast member of the Mountain Collective, which includes skiing at Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico, Lake Louise and Banff-Sunshine in British Columbia and Big Sky Resort in Montana.
Not only do you ski for 50 percent off after you use up your two days at a given Collective resort, but you can now ski year-round by taking it to the Southern Hemisphere. New for 2019-2020 are Mt. Butler in Australia and Valle Nevado in Chile, along with Coronet Peak and the Remarkables in New Zealand and Thredbo Alpine Village in Australia. mountaincollective.com
Featured Photo Caption: A skier finds cold powder at Mount Snow last winter. Starting this season, Mount Snow will be part of the Epic and Epic Local Passes. Photo courtesy Mount Snow.