Q:

When Should I Buy My Ski Pass for This Winter?

If you haven't bought it yet, start making plans before prices spike and supplies run out.

Aug 18, 2015
Outside
Outside Magazine
When Should I Buy My Ski Pass for This Winter?

Ski pass prices increase as the season gets closer, so late summer is not too early to look into buying.    Photo: Nathalie Gouzée

A:

There’s still plenty of summer left, with grilling and mountain biking in full swing. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be getting ready for winter. If you’re planning to buy one of the season’s hottest passes, which grant access to multiple major resorts, consider booking now. Prices tend to shoot up the closer you get to opening day and some passes sell out completely even before the start of the season, so the best advice we can offer: Buy your pass early. 

Pass prices tend to jump up in early fall, often as soon as September. The Rocky Mountain Super Pass, currently on sale for $559, offers unlimited days at Colorado’s Winter Park, Copper, and Eldora, plus six days at Steamboat and three days at Crested Butte. The deadline for the current price will likely end sometime after Labor Day, according to resort insiders, although nobody will offer up an exact date. 

The MAX Pass, a new pass for this year, gets you five days each at 22 mountains across the country, ranging from Brighton, Copper, Crystal Mountain, Big Sky, Sugarloaf, Stratton, Killington, and more. “We are planning on several price increases before it goes off sale,” says Jodie Silva, vice president of marketing and sales at Winter Park Resort, one of the MAX Pass resorts. “But it has not yet been determined what those price increases will be. However, it is safe to say that the lowest price available is the current price of $699.”

Or take the Epic Pass, Vail Resorts’ massive pass, which gives you full access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, and more. The current price is $769 and although Vail won’t yet say when the deadline for that price is, or what the price increase, if any, will be, chances are the pass price will go up—and soon. If you’re in the market for an Epic Pass, get it while you still can. “We historically don’t announce a specific date that Epic Passes will go off sale entirely, but it will certainly be before the ski season begins,” says Lesli Carlson, corporate communications coordinator for Vail Resorts.

The Tahoe Super Pass Gold, currently on sale for $809, grants you unlimited riding at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, as well as four days at Sierra-at-Tahoe and Sugar Bowl. Plus, Squaw’s offering a new worry-free guarantee this year, so if Tahoe gets skunked again this winter and you don’t use your pass at least five days, the resort will issue you a credit for a pass for the following season. “Like previous years, skiers and riders can assume there will be an increase in price as we get closer to the start of the 2015-16 winter season,” says Squaw spokesperson Michael Radlick. “For those interested in locking in the lowest possible rate, our recommendation is to purchase now.”

The Mountain Collective Pass just made news by adding Taos and Stowe to their roster. The gem of a pass that gets you two days each at those new resorts, plus Alta/Snowbird, Lake Louise/Sunshine Village, Mammoth, Jackson Hole, Whistler Blackcomb, Aspen Snowmass, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Sun Valley, and Australia’s Thredbo. Quantities for the early bird rate of $399 are limited, so nab it before it sells out.

Bottom line: The best time to buy your pass is actually in the spring, at the end of the ski season when resorts offer deep discounts to lock you in for another year. But if you’ve waited until now, don’t fret. There's still time to buy before the snow starts to fall.

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