The business of skiing looks a lot like the music industry these days, with giants such as Vail Resorts buying up ma-and-pa operations, and independent outfits joining forces to fight the bigs—all driven by a strength-in-numbers mentality that seeks to sell more tickets (often at discounted rates) to more people.
This is good news for skiers and boarders, who no longer have to take out a personal loan to buy a season pass. All they really have to do is jump on the not-so-secret season pass sales that have become a rite of spring for powder heads. Here are a few of the best deals—occurring right now, so hurry—to be had for the 2014–2015 season.
Includes: AltaSnowbird, Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Mammoth, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, and Whistler Blackcomb
For $359 (while supplies last), adults get two days at each resort in this indie consortium. For those doing the math at home, that’s 12 total days, plus an additional 50 percent off tickets for all other days at each resort, no blackout dates. Kids 12 and younger fare even better: They get the same deal for $99.
Includes: Vail Ski Resort, Beaver Creek Resort, Keystone Resort, Breckenridge Resort, Canyons Resort, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Northstar California, Heavenly Mountain Resort, Afton Alps, and Mount Brighton
Snag one of four Epic Pass options from Vail Resorts before April 13 for huge discounts at each of the Colorado giant’s ten resorts. The Epic Pass ($729 for adults/$379 for kids) is the best deal, giving you unlimited access to each mountain, plus five free days at Niseko United in Japan and up to five days at Verbier, Switzerland, and Les 3 Vallees, France. At the other end of the spectrum is the Epic four-day Pass ($369/$209), perfect for the one-ski-trip-a-year family.
Includes Angel Fire Resort, Arizona Snowbowl, Bridger Bowl, China Peak, Crested Butte, Mountain High, Mt. Hood Skibowl, Schweitzer, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Snowbasin Resort, Stevens Pass, Timberline
Yet another indie syndicate, Powder Alliance gives season pass holders at one of its 12 “partner” resorts three free days at each of the remaining 11 resorts. Season pass prices vary from mountain to mountain, but many are offering discounts right now (Bridger Bowl’s adult season pass, for example, is on sale now for $599 through October 15, when it goes up to $699).
Includes: Steamboat, Winter Park, Tremblant, Stratton, Snowshoe, Blue Mountain
Intrawest’s “passport” went on sale April 10, giving the primary holder six days at each of its six resorts. But the beauty of this pass is in the extras: five free passes for kids 12 and younger; a $399 “secondary pass” for the primary holder’s partner; a $199 teen pass for young adults ages 13 to 20; plus ten additional discounted tickets for kids or adults.
Single-owner independents such as this friendly Lake Tahoe concern have also embraced the pre-season discount game. Through June 1, Homewood’s adult season pass is $379, and includes four free days at Diamond Peak Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe, five days at Whitefish (Montana), and unlimited days at Red Lodge (Montana).
The pride of New Mexican downhillers, Taos discounts its season pass by $150 until October 1, at which point it jumps up to $999 (from $847). But the more logistically and financially realistic option is the Millennium pass, good for 70 days throughout the 2014–15 season (with blackout dates between 12/27–12/31).
One of the New York’s finest resorts boasts 3,000-plus feet of vertical (that’s more than Sugarloaf, it’s popular East Coast cousin) and stellar deals for early birds. Through April 25, a season pass will set you back a mere $759—small potatoes considering that the pass jumps to $929 come August and $1,039 on November 15.