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How to Choose the Best Multipass Based on Where You Ski

With the first deadline approaching, it's time to decide which season pass is best for you next season. Start here.

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As the clock ticks down to the first pass deadline for both Epic and Ikon on April 21, anyone who hasn’t pulled the trigger yet is no doubt feeling the pressure. While both passes will remain on sale into the fall, you’ll lose Ikon’s renewal discount and Epic’s 10 Buddy Passes if you purchase after this Friday. And since you now pay over time with both passes, there’s no good reason to put it off.

This collection is designed to help you make the most informed decision to choose the right pass for you. While Ikon and Epic are the focus, this guide also considers the Mountain Collective, Indy Pass, Power Pass, and Powder Alliance multi-resort options where they make the most sense. Watch this space all week for daily articles parsing the differences, the benefits, and the pros and cons to the Ikon and Epic passes to help you figure out which option is right for you.

First, The Passes

Epic Pass

The original mega pass, the Vail Resorts product offers skiing at 37 North American resorts plus 10 ski areas in Japan, three in Australia, and 26 partner resorts in the Alps. The full Epic Pass offers unlimited skiing with no blackout dates at 40 ski areas, while the Epic Local features unlimited, blackout-free skiing at 29 resorts, unlimited blackout-restricted access at 5 five ski areas, and 10 blackout-restricted days at days at its marquee destinations of Vail, Beaver Creek, and Whistler Blackcomb. Epic Pass also offers over a dozen regional passes and a new suite of day pass products ranging from one- to seven-day options.

Star Players

Vail Mountain, Telluride, Whistler Blackcomb, Stowe, Park City

Purchase Deadline

Purchase by April 21 for 10 Buddy Passes

Epic Pass Prices

  • Epic Pass: $841
  • Epic Local: $625

What’s New With the Epic Pass for the 2022-23 Season? Read This.

Ikon Pass

Alterra Mountain Company rolled out its competition to the Epic Pass in 2018. The full Ikon Pass provided unlimited, blackout-free access to 14 resorts, plus seven days at another 35 ski areas. The Base Pass gets you unlimited skiing, blackout-restricted at 13 resorts, plus five days at another 30. Nestled between the two is the Base Plus Pass, which adds access to Aspen Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Sun Valley, Deer Valley, Alta, and Snowbasin for $200 more than the Base.

Star Players

Big Sky, Jackson Hole, Aspen Snowmass, Snowbird, Revelstoke

Purchase Deadline

Renewing pass holders need to purchase before April 21 for the discount

Ikon Pass Prices

  • Ikon Pass: $1,079/$979 renewal
  • Ikon Base Plus: $969/$919 renewal
  • Ikon Base: $769/$719 renewal

The 2022-’23 Ikon Pass Adds Three New Resorts, Including Two Epic Pass Destinations

Mountain Collective

The ultimate powder-seeker’s pass, the Mountain Collective comprises 22 resorts where pass holders get two days at each, one bonus 3rd day at the resort of your choice, plus the 50 percent-off additional days. This is a great add-on product to capture any of the big-name resorts that aren’t on your primary pass, or if you have the flexibility to road trip all winter long. (Sigh.)

Star Players

Taos Ski Valley, Alta, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Banff Sunshine

Purchase Deadline

No deadline

Mountain Collective Price

$539

Indy Pass

This rapidly growing consortium of 82 independently owned ski areas was formed in 2019 by founder Greg Fish as the anti-megapass, and a way to escape the crowds that have been taking over the destination resorts. The Indy Plus Pass provides two blackout-free days, while the Indy Pass offers the same two days with some blackout restrictions. There’s also Indy AddOn passes, which you buy at a reduced cost in addition to your home mountain’s season pass, and you get two day at all of the other Indy Pass resorts.

Star Players

Powder Mountain, Jay Peak, Marmot Basin, Tamarack

Purchase Deadline

Not announced yet

Indy Pass Prices

  • Indy Pass: $279/$119 kids 12 and under
  • Indy Pass Plus: $379/$169 kids
  • Indy AddOn: $189/$89 kids
  • Indy AddOn Plus: $289/$139 kids

Powder Alliance

This reciprocal pass collects 16 resorts across the U.S., Canada, and Japan, with most of the North American resorts concentrated in California, the Pacific Northwest, and Alberta. The concept with the Powder Alliance is a little different: There’s no cost. Rather, if you purchase a season pass at any of the partner resorts, you get two free days of skiing at the rest.

Star Players

Timberline, Silver Mountain, Loveland Ski Area, Sierra at Tahoe

Purchase Deadline

Deadline is at the discretion of each partner resort.

Powder Alliance Price

No cost for this reciprocal pass

Power Pass

This Southwestern-focused pass features eight ski areas, all in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. Power Pass holders get unlimited skiing at each resort plus three more free days at Colo.’s Copper Mountain, Loveland Ski Area, and Monarch Mountain, and Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah. There are also 12- and four-day Power Pass options with restricted access to many of the resorts.

Star Players

Purgatory Mountain Resort, Brian Head Resort

Purchase Deadline

Not announced yet

Power Pass Prices

  • Power Pass: $449-$699
  • 12-Day Power Pass: $299-$599 
  • 4-Day Power Pass: $199-$299

Which Multipass Pass to Buy Based on Region

Each pass has a winner when it comes to where they offer access to the most resorts—sometimes it’s clear and sometimes it’s a little murky. Sure, one pass might offer access to more resorts in a region, but it might not be unlimited access, and five or seven days at a ski area just isn’t enough for locals. However, if you’re spending the week, limited access is just fine. Use the guide below to help inform your decision.

Colorado

Colorado skiing
Epic and Ikon have comparable resorts in Colorado, but Epic Pass offers slightly more unlimited skiing opportunities. Photo: Getty Images

Of the 30-plus resorts in Colorado, 11 are covered by either the Epic or Ikon passes. Epic Pass offers access to six resorts, with the Epic Local serving up five. The Ikon Pass also has six resorts on the Full pass, and four on the Base. 

These are the 12 Best Ski Resorts in Colorado

Where Epic edges out Ikon slightly here in the unlimited vs. limited access game. Epic Pass skiers can ride unlimited days at five resorts: Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge, and Crested Butte, with seven days at Telluride. Ikon Pass holders have unlimited access at four resorts: Winter Park, Copper, Steamboat, and Eldora, with seven days each at Aspen Snowmass and Arapahoe Basin.

Best Season Pass for Colorado

Epic Pass, but only slightly. In Colorado, it comes down to resort preference and how important it is to have unlimited access at more ski areas.

Also Consider

The Mountain Collective is a strong contender in Colorado, especially for Epic Pass buyers who also want to ski Arapahoe Basin and Aspen Snowmass.

California

Mammoth Mountain, California
Ikon Pass has more resorts in southern California, including Mammoth, while Epic Pass offers more Tahoe-area resorts. Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth

It’s also a close call in California, where Epic Pass dominates in the Tahoe area (Northstar, Kirkwood, and Heavenly, all with unlimited access), while Ikon is stronger in southern California—Big Bear, June, and Mammoth, plus Palisades Tahoe up north, also all with unlimited access. So depending on where in the state you live, or where you plan to visit, it could be no brainer. 

Best Pass for California

Ikon in the south, Epic in the north.

Also Consider

For Californians, the Powder Alliance pass is a good one to consider. Buy a season pass at any of the 16 partner resorts—four of which are in California—and get three days at all of the rest. The four California resorts are Sierra at Tahoe, China Peak, Mountain High, and Dakota Ridge.

Pacific Northwest

"Mt. Bachelor, Ore."
Mt. Bachelor is one of three PNW resorts on the Ikon Pass. Photo: Courtesy of Mt. Bachelor

Neither Ikon nor Epic offer a truly great deal for skiers in Washington and Oregon. On Epic, Stevens Pass is the only resort, but pass holders do at least get unlimited access. On Ikon, there are no resorts with unlimited access since Crystal moved to seven days on the full pass and five on the Base Pass. Ikon does also offer seven and five days on the Full and Base respectively at Mt. Bachelor and Summit at Snoqualmie.

Best Pass for PNW

Ikon Pass, if you can live with limited days.

Also Consider

The Indy Pass features an impressive six resorts in Washington and Oregon, including two days apiece at Hoodoo, White Pass, Mission Ridge, and Mt. Ashland.

Midwest

Caberfae Peaks Resort, Michigan
Michigan’s Caberfae Peaks is one of 20 resorts on the Indy Pass, making it a viable option for Midwest skiers, Photo: Courtesy of Caberfae Peaks

There’s really no competition in the Midwestern states, with Epic Pass featuring 10 resorts across Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio. Ikon only has two, and they’re both in Michigan (Boyne Mountain and The Highlands). There are also seven very reasonably priced regional Epic Passes targeting Midwestern skiers, including the Ohio Pass and season passes for Wilmot, Afton Alps, and Paoli Peaks skiers. So for breadth of terrain, options for unlimited ski days, and value-minded pricing, Epic offers much more to choose from.

Best Season Pass for the Midwest 

Epic Pass if you hope to ski anywhere without having to get on a plane. 

Also Consider

Midwestern skiers should seriously think about buying an Indy Pass; there are 20 Midwest ski areas on the 82-resort collective, with two days at each, starting at $279.

East (including Quebec and Ontario)

Stowe scenic
Stowe is the marquee Epic Pass resort and is accessed on both the Epic and Epic Local passes, although Epic Local pass holders lose holiday access. Photo: Getty Images

The East is another place where you need to look deeper than just the number of resorts on each pass. Epic Pass serves up 16 resorts, all with unlimited access. However, six of them are small Pennsylvania ski areas—great if you live near there, not so great if you don’t. The main attractions on the Epic Pass in the East are Stowe, Mt. Snow,  and Okemo in Vermont and Attitash and Wildcat in New Hampshire. Switch from the full Epic to Local and you lose holiday access to Stowe.

The Best Ski Resorts in Vermont

Ikon is no slacker in the East, however, with 10 resorts, including some Eastern heavy hitters such as Stratton, Sugarbush, and Killington, Vt., and Sunday River and Sugarloaf, Maine. The only unlimited access, however, is at Stratton and Sugarbush, with seven and five days, respectively, at the others. Snowshoe, W.Va., is also an unlimited destination on Ikon, so if you live within driving distance of it, that’s something to consider.

Best Season Pass for the East

Ikon Pass, if you live in New England, Epic Pass if you’re closer to the mid-Atlantic region

Also Consider

Hands down, the Indy Pass is a great value for East Coast skiers with two days at 26 ski areas from Maine to North Carolina.

Southwest

Taos Local Flavor
The Ikon Pass and the Power Pass are the best bets for skiers in the Southwest. Photo: Claire Mylott

Seeing as how Epic Pass has virtually no presence in Arizona and New Mexico (well, there are seven days at Telluride, which you could argue is pretty Southwestern), Ikon’s seven and five days at Taos Ski Valley win this round.

Best Season Pass for the Southwest

Ikon Pass; Epic doesn’t have any resorts south of Colorado

Also Consider

The Power Pass offers unlimited skiing at eight Southwestern ski areas, including Pajarito and Sipapu in New Mexico and Arizona Snowbowl.

Northern Rockies

Schweitzer powder
Schweitzer is on the Ikon Pass, although full pass holders only get seven days and Base pass holders get five. Photo: Courtesy of Schweitzer Mountain Resort

Ikon clinched this one when it nabbed Sun Valley from Epic for next season, adding to a resort tally that boasts several serious destinations, including Big Sky and Jackson Hole. Idaho’s Schweitzer is also on Ikon. That said, none of these offer unlimited skiing, making Ikon a no-brainer for ski travelers but not so much for locals.

Best Season Pass for the Northern Rockies

Ikon Pass, as losing Sun Valley means that Epic doesn’t have any resorts in the Northern Rockies.

Also Consider

Epic Pass holders who want to check out some of these iconic destinations can partake of the Mountain Collective, with two days apiece at Sun Valley, Big Sky, Jackson, and Grand Targhee, and 50 percent-off additional days.

Utah

Utah skiing
Ikon Pass offers many more resorts than Epic, especially after losing Snowbasin for next season. Photo: Getty Images

Ikon Pass wins thanks to Snowbasin migrating over from Epic for next season, leaving Epic with only Park City Resort. Don’t get us wrong, Park City is a huge draw for Epic, but for Utahns who want options, they now have Snowbird, Alta, Solitude, Deer Valley, and Snowbasin on the Ikon Pass. Sure makes it enticing,

That said, only Solitude has unlimited access. On Epic, Park City is unlimited on the full Epic Pass, but Local pass holders lose holiday access—something to consider if you’re planning a Christmas trip.

Best Season Pass for Utah

Ikon Pass, because there’s just so much to choose from in Utah now.

Also Consider

The Indy Pass’s three Utah resorts include Powder Mountain, which is among the least crowded and most interesting resorts in the state. Also, Epic Pass holders who want to sample the goods at Alta, Snowbird, and Snowbasin can do so on the Mountain Collective.

Western Canada

Skiing Sun Peaks at sunset
With roughly the same number of resorts in Western Canada, the choice comes down to access. Whatever you decide, consider adding a Mountain Collective pass to resorts such as Sun Peaks, Photo: Courtesy of Sun Peaks Resort/Kelly Funk

Lots of numbers go into the decision when it comes to which pass better serves Western Canada’s Alberta and B.C. provinces. Epic Pass features seven days at Kicking Horse, Fernie, and Kimberley in B.C., plus unlimited access to Whistler Blackcomb, among the crown jewels in the Epic tiara.

Ikon Pass doesn’t offer any unlimited access to its Western Canada resort partners, which include Lake Louise and Banff Sunshine* in Alberta and B.C.’s Revelstoke and RED Mountain. Full Ikon Pass holders get seven days, while Base pass holders get 5. *Days are combined between Banff Sunshine and Lake Louise. 

Best Season Pass for Western Canada

Epic Pass, due to unlimited Whistler Blackcomb access.

Also Consider

The Mountain Collective is a great supplemental pass in Western Canada thanks to two days apiece at Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise, Panorama, Sun Peaks, and Revelstoke.