Why April is the Best Time to Save Big on Ski Passes

Buy next season’s ski pass now and get the deepest discounts of the year. 

Why April is the Best Time to Save Big on Ski Passes
Photograph Courtesy of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

Every April, single- and multi-resort ski passes go on sale for the following year, with most resorts offering their deepest discounts in spring. That means it’s time to buy next season’s ski pass right now…even if you’re still enjoying some turns in the current spring skiing season! Wondering which ski pass to buy? With 18 seasons of skiing as a family under my belt, it feels as though I’ve purchased just about every type of pass possible. Here’s how to shop for multi-resort passes, as well as when a local mountain pass makes more sense.  

Why Multi-Resort Passes Make Sense

Photograph Courtesy of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
April is the best month to purchase next year's season pass at the deepest discount and some passes for next year include free spring skiing this season.

If you or your family lives in a warmer climate and travels to ski, a multi-resort pass may be best for your needs. If you plan to take two, three or more trips to destination resorts next winter, and have flexibility in your schedule, you’ll want a pass that will allow you to ski dozens of resorts on one pass (see options below). Even if you know you’ll only be taking one destination trip to a large ski resort (perhaps for a week-long vacation), a pass that includes your resort of choice (but also offers alternatives) can still be a smart choice.

Buying your season pass now breaks up the cost of your trip, allowing you to pay for your lift tickets in advance (you’ll thank yourself later), but it doesn’t lock you into just one resort. Next fall, when it’s time to book your lodging, you can gauge the weather predictions and follow the snow!

Quick tip: Don’t let the term ‘season pass’ fool you: these passes can offer great value even if you will only be at a resort for one vacation during the season. Do the math and see if the cost of a season pass equates to less dollars spent per ski day than a three-, four- or five-day pass purchased on-site or online. If you get back to that same resort for a second trip later in the season, that’s a bonus!

Three Amazing Passes to Consider

Here are three great multi-resort, season-pass options available right now. Note: prices quoted are for adult season passes. When kids’ pass prices are included, the standard definition of a child is age 0-12.

  • Epic Pass: Curated for Vail Resorts, the Epic Pass includes the 14 Vail Resort-owned properties in the U.S. and Canada, plus extra days in splashy locations in Japan and the Swiss Alps. If you’re able to travel all over the world to ski, the Epic Pass may fit you best.

    The full pass is $939 (and a pretty steep $489 for kids), but I like that the Epic Pass offers options for locals only (by region) as well as five-day passes and seven-day passes—perfect for vacation-goers to one region that may offer several resort choices (for example, Breckenridge and Keystone in Summit County, Colorado).

  • Mountain Collective: The Mountain Collective pass gives skiers and riders two days at each of 16 top-tier resorts, and is less expensive at $449 for the season, with kids only $99. With the Mountain Collective, skiers and riders get some serious big-mountain terrain with steep vertical drops at resorts such as Alta Ski Area, Big Sky Resort and Banff Sunshine.
Photograph Courtesy of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
The Mountain Collective pass includes two days of skiing or riding at each of 16 top-tier resorts and kids are just $1.

  • Ikon Pass: The new Ikon Pass offers up 26 resorts across North America including resorts like Squaw Valley, Jackson Hole, Killington, and Tremblant. It is more expensive than the Mountain Collective, but you do have two versions to choose from. Their most unlimited pass is $949, but you don’t have to understand how to navigate blackout dates and the like. For $649, you can save some money if you’re more savvy about working around restrictions.
Photograph Courtesy of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
The Ikon pass offers 26 destinations across the U.S. and Canada including Squaw Valley, pictured here under a dazzling fireworks display.

          Quick tip: The Max Pass, which offered a similar line-up to the Ikon Pass, is no longer being offered. If you currently own a Max Pass, get those turns in while you can!

Single-Resort Passes

Photograph Courtesy of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
If you live locally and just ski one area for the season, you can save even more. Many resorts allow you to use next year’s pass for free spring skiing right now.

If you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance of a ski resort and plan to do most of your skiing and riding locally, you’re likely to save even more this month on a local single-resort ski pass. Most have spring sales for the current ski season. For example, our local mountain, Mt. Bachelor Ski Area, is currently offering a pass that’s good through April (to their closing day) for $199 in their Springtactular sale. 

Other local mountains place their 2018-19 season passes on sale at this time, with the added bonus of being good now, for free spring skiing in the current season. Even if your local mountain does not offer spring skiing discounts, you usually have through the spring to purchase your next season’s pass at the steepest discount (usually a savings of hundreds of dollars per pass).

Quick tip: Don’t forget about the additional benefits of season passes. Most include discounts at their ski shops and dining venues, buddy passes, pass insurance, and sometimes even resort access in the summer months (for those resorts that operate in the off-season).

About the Author: Amy Whitley specializes in outdoor travel writing for families with children. She is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids, a family travel site dedicated to resort, attraction, and outdoor activity reviews for kids. Amy writes regularly for U.S. News Travel and Southern Oregon Magazine as is an editor for OutdoorsNW Magazine and Twist Travel Magazine.

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