SKI’s “Ask the Traveler” series—expert advice on all things ski travel-related from our travel-tested Senior Content Producer, Samantha Berman, who’s skied all over the globe—is normally only available to Active Pass members, but we’ve made this one free to everyone so you can see what you’re missing. Join Active Pass for more expert travel advice, plus exclusive gear reviews, access to the Warren Miller film archive, meal plans, workouts, industry discounts, and more.
Q: I haven’t pulled the trigger on my season pass yet, but before I do, I’m wondering which ones include lift-served hiking or mountain biking access at any of the resorts this summer. That might help me decide. —Darren R., Portland, Ore.
Summer perks are a great reason to buy or renew your season pass in the spring, and could certainly be a deciding factor for many people, depending on where they live and where they hope to travel this summer.
As of this writing, only the Epic and Ikon Passes offer summer pass benefits (though Indy Pass founder Doug Fish says it’s something they have been considering, but don’t currently offer.) The perks are somewhat similar between the two, so it may come to a geographical choice based on where you want to go this summer and what you want to do. Keep in mind, though, that the best perk—chairlift or gondola rides—does not include mountain bike park or lift haul access, so if that’s what you’re after, you’ll have to pay extra anyway.
Here’s what the major passes get you for summer fun in the mountains:
Ikon Pass holders get lift access at 12 U.S. resorts and two Canadian resorts during the summer (though the border is still closed as of May 2021). This is good for scenic chairlift or gondola rides that access hiking, on-mountain activities, and dining that’s operational during the summer months. There are no summer blackout dates or limits on the number of times your pass can be used, and summer access is the same no matter which Ikon Pass you buy, the Ikon Full, Ikon Base Plus, or Ikon Base passes.
On That Topic: Ikon Pass Details, Updated For 2021-’22
Ikon Summer Access Resorts
- Big Bear, Calif.
- Deer Valley, Utah
- Mammoth Mountain, Calif.
- Snowshoe, W.Va.
- Sugarbush, Vt.
- Squaw Alpine, Calif.
- Steamboat, Colo.
- Stratton, Vt.
- Winter Park, Colo.
- Solitude, Utah
- Crystal Mountain, Wash.
- Copper Mountain, Colo.
- Blue Mountain, Ont.
- Tremblant, Que.
Additional summer perks include:
• Retail discounts at select resorts
• Food and beverage discounts at select resorts
• 10 percent off Canadian Mountain Holidays summer trips
Bike park tickets or bike haul are not included with the Ikon summer perks, though many resorts do offer discounts to Ikon Pass holders. Here are some examples:
• At Solitude, pass holders get 25 percent off of daily bike park tickets.
• At Deer Valley, Ikon pass holders can choose between enjoy one complimentary scenic ride lift or get 50 percent off a mountain bike ticket per day during the 2021 summer season.
• At Big Bear, Ikon pass holders get between 10 and 20 percent off of bike park tickets, bike rentals, mountain bike, lessons, food and beverage, and more.
Epic Pass holders get summer chairlift or gondola access to the same resorts that are included on their ski pass. So if you buy the full Epic Pass, you can ride the lifts during the summer at whichever Epic resorts have summer operations. However, if you buy the Northeast Value pass, you can only enjoy summer benefits at any of 19 East and Midwest resorts on your ski pass that offer summer programming. Note: Epic Pass summer access is not valid at partner resorts (Sun Valley, Telluride, and Snowbasin in the U.S.; full list here).
Also Read: Epic Pass Details, Updated for 2021-’22
Like with the Ikon Pass, there are no summer blackout dates at the resorts to which your pass gets you access. In addition to lift access—which also does not include entry to the mountain bike parks—Epic Pass holders get the following perks throughout the summer:
- 20 percent off food and beverage
- 20 percent off lodging
- 20 percent off bike rentals at select locations
- 20 percent off shuttles through Epic Mountain Express
- 20 percent off golf at select locations
As of this writing, the Mountain Collective, Indy, and Power passes do not offer any summer pass benefits.
One more thing: It’s May and most resorts are closed, but it’s worth noting here that your Ikon Pass purchase does get you skiing at the couple of resorts that are still open: Mammoth and Winter Park (Mary Jane side). There is no spring/summer skiing included on any 2021-’22 Epic Passes. There’s been a lot of confusion around that, but that’s the definitive answer.
We hope this info helps nudge you in one direction or the other, or perhaps this will: Buddy Pass inclusion on the Epic Pass—that’s the 10 fixed-price discounted tickets for friends and family that are attached to your season pass—expires on May 31.
Previous “Ask the Traveler” ColumnsSection divider
You’re Flying to Park City—Do You Bring Your Skis or Demo?
When it comes to skis, there are so many factors to weigh as you decide whether to travel with your sticks or rent or demo at your destination. From budget constraints to oversize-bag fees to convenience to just wanting to try skiing on something new, here’s some things to chew on to help you make your decision.Section divider
Flying to Vail: Do I Rent a Car or Shuttle From Denver?
First, let’s talk airports. You didn’t mention if your flights are already booked, but in case they’re not, it’s worth considering flying into Eagle County Regional Airport, 35 miles from Vail and 70 miles from Breckenridge. Many major airlines serve Eagle during the winter, the biggest being American, United, and Delta, making it a very convenient option, especially for Vail skiers.Section divider
Lose a Ski Trip to the Pandemic? These Hotels Will Take Your Points
The key to using your hotel loyalty points is to plan early, so your question comes at a great time as this ski season is winding down and thoughts turn to planning for next season. I included a couple more loyalty programs below, in case someone else with the same question is reading this, or if there are skiers out there wondering which points programs have great lodgings for skiers in their respective offerings. (Spoiler: They all have ski-town properties, but some have more—or more luxurious hotels—in their portfolios.)Section divider
7 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Next Season Pass
The current ski season isn’t over yet and it seems early to start planning for next season, but it’s not. Now is a good time to consider the timing of your vacations and where you might want to ski. If you’re planning a Christmas or President’s Week trip, you’ll need to consider pass blackout dates where you can’t ski, rendering your investment worthless. The Epic Local, for one, has significant blackout dates around the holidays, as does the Ikon Base Pass.