The season pass competition seems never ending as extensive purchases made by Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company continue to reshape the ski industry.
Now that the ski resort buying sprees is slowing down (*the exception being IKON’s acquisition of Crystal this week), a lot of our readers are wondering which season pass is the right for their region? Between the Epic Pass and the new Ikon Pass, along with all the independent ski resorts out there, it can be hard to determine what holds the best value. With keen attention to travel distances, price and terrain, we researched the best season passes for each iconic ski state/region in 2018. Here we go…
The Golden State is almost an even split for season pass purchasers but the IKON pass wins solely for having Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows on its roster. Add in Mammoth and Big Bear for the SoCal crowd and the Ikon wins Cali. For those living and shredding in Tahoe, it’s a close toss up (*North Lake – Ikon vs. South Lake – Epic).
IKON: Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, June Lake, and Big Bear
EPIC: Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood
After claiming some of Colorado’s most prized ski resorts, Alterra Mountain CO. is working on giving Vail serious competition. But with the limited days at Aspen Snowmass, The IKON Pass falls short. 5 ski resorts within 2 hours of the Front Range and with the addition of Crested Butte and Telluride, The EPIC Pass is the king on Colorado– for now.
EPIC: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Telluride, Crested Butte, and Arapahoe Basin
IKON: Steamboat, Aspen Snowmass, Winter Park, Copper Mountain, and Eldora
Surprisingly with all the acquisitions made between Alterra Mountain Co. and Vail Corp, Utah is not a stronghold for either company. The EPIC Pass will get you into immense Park City, and the IKON is only truly unlimited at Solitude. The bonus days actually are where the clear choice is made. An IKON pass adds 7 days at Brighton, Alta/Snowbird and Deer Valley, altogether an impressive 21 days worth of skiing all less than 2 hours from Salt Lake City.
IKON: Alta, Snowbird, Solutude, Brighton, and Deer Valley
EPIC: Park City Mountain Resort
New Mexico: IKON
The Ikon Pass just added limited access at Taos Ski Valley, making both the Ikon and Epic a non-starter for residents of New Mexico. That said, if you’ve always dreamed of skiing in NM, Taos is where you want to go and having access via the Ikon Pass is priceless.
IKON: Taos Ski Valley
Oregon: Powder Alliance?
Skiers and snowboarders in Oregon have yet to witness the purchasing power of Vail Corp and Alterra, as the ski resorts in the Beaver State are mostly independently operated. Purchasing a Powder Alliance pass is likely the most useful for Portland-area residents with Timberline Lodge & Mt. Hood Ski Bowl on the pass. Not to mention you also get some reciprocal deals with skiing at Washington’s Stevens Pass and a host of other national ski resorts. Until more resorts combine pass products, the Powder Alliance is the closest thing to a multi resort pass for Oregon.
Powder Alliance: Mt Hood Skibowl & Timberline (Bonus Access: Bridger Bowl, Loveland Ski Area, Kiroro, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Sugar Bowl, Stevens Pass, Schweitzer, and Whitewater BC)
Washington is fairly new territory for both pass giants as their first forays into the PNW came this summer. First to strike was the Epic Pass with its addition of Stevens Pass but then Ikon chimed in. Ultimately, Alterra came out on top with likely the two most visited ski areas in Washington with Summit at Snoqualmie and Crystal.
IKON: Crystal Mountain & Summit at Snoqualmie
EPIC: Stevens Pass
Like New Mexico, the residents of the northern Rockies won’t find any season pass price relief via the Ikon or Epic Passes. Those looking to head north this winter for a powder-chase should get an Ikon Pass solely for the access to Jackson and Big Sky.
IKON: Jackson Hole, Big Sky
Northeast (VT, NH, ME, MA, NY, WV) : IKON
Although the Epic has the most iconic resort of New England with Stowe, Ikon’s access can’t be beat. Everything from Southern VT to Maine is on the bill and for weekend warriors on the ice coast– the Ikon offers the most.
IKON: Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Loon Mountain, Stratton, Killington, Snowshoe, and Sugarbush
EPIC: Stowe, Mount Sunapee, Okemo
Midwest (MN, WI, MI): EPIC
The Epic Pass hosts ski areas in the Midwest’s 3 main states for winter sports while the Ikon only has one– Michigan. This is an easy win for the Epic Pass but watch out for more resorts in the middle of the country to get nabbed this season by the two giants.
EPIC: Mt. Brighton, Wilmot, Afton Alps
IKON: Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands