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The Ultimate Guide to Season Ski Passes Around the World [2023-2024]

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Lukas Picton
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Lukas Picton

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After leaving his hometown south of Sydney, Lukas has been a passionate traveler and photographer who has since landed in the top 2% of global travelers according to App in the Air. By day, Lukas is a...
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Snow lovers are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a pass to access favorite ski resorts and multiple mountains on almost every continent. However, not all ski passes are created equal, and savvy skiers need to ensure they’re aware of pass limitations, such as blackout dates, maximum day usage, and even the timing of when to purchase ski passes.

Before we jump in and start traversing the big 3-multi-resort-ski-pass terrain, it’s worth pausing and considering whether you actually need it. If you and your family are only planning a single trip, perhaps a weekend away at your local resort, then a pass isn’t necessarily for you. But when you consider that a single-day lift ticket at Vail can cost nearly $300 per person, a trip longer than 4 days makes purchasing a season pass much more viable.

We’ll dissect the many other benefits that come with each pass to help you make the most informed decision possible regarding your next alpine escape.

Epic Pass

They don’t call it “Epic” for nothing. The Epic Pass bills itself as the most all-inclusive season pass on the market, but is it necessarily the best? Let’s find out.

The Epic Pass from Vail Resorts is available in 3 options, depending on where you want to ski/ride and how often.

Epic Pass
Image Credit: Epic

Starting from $949 for adults and $483 for kids between 5 and 12, the Epic Pass will give you unlimited, unrestricted skiing at Vail’s own resorts and a whole swathe of other resorts in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Australia.

Primary Resorts Covered by the Epic Pass

  • Afton Alps, MN
  • Alpine Valley, OH
  • Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis, Switzerland
  • Attitash Mountain Resort, NH
  • Beaver Creek, CO
  • Big Boulder, PA
  • Boston Mills, OH
  • Brandywine, OH
  • Breckenridge, CO
  • Crested Butte, CO
  • Crotched Mountain, NH
  • Falls Creek, Australia (2024 Access)
  • Heavenly, CA/NV
  • Hidden Valley, MO
  • Hidden Valley, PA
  • Hotham, Australia (2024 Access)
  • Hunter Mountain, NY
  • Jack Frost, PA
  • Keystone, CO
  • Kirkwood, CA
  • Laurel Mountain, PA
  • Liberty Mountain Resort, PA
  • Mad River Mountain, OH
  • Mount Brighton, MI
  • Mount Snow, VT
  • Mount Sunapee, NH
  • Northstar, CA
  • Okemo, VT
  • Paoli Peaks, IN
  • Park City, UT
  • Perisher, Australia (2024 Access)
  • Roundtop Mountain Resort, PA
  • Seven Springs, PA
  • Snow Creek, MO
  • Stevens Pass, WA
  • Stowe, VT
  • Vail, CO
  • Whistler Blackcomb, BC
  • Whitetail Resort, PA
  • Wildcat Mountain, NH
  • Wilmot, WI

The Epic Pass also gives you 7 days of access to Telluride, CO, and 7 resorts in the Canadian Rockies with no blackout dates. If you use up the 7-day access at these resorts, you can use your pass to purchase additional lift tickets with a 50% discount.

Telluride Gondola
View of Telluride from the ski resort gondola. Image Credit: Telluride

Japanese Resorts Covered by the Epic Pass

If your preference is for Japanese pow, the Epic Pass also allows you to ski for 5 days at Hakuba Valley and Rusutsu, which means you can choose from the following 11 resorts:

  • Hakuba 47 Winter Sports Park
  • Hakuba Cortina Snow Resort
  • ABLE Hakuba Goryu
  • Hakuba Happo-One Snow Resort
  • Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field
  • Hakuba Norikuna Onsen Snow Resort
  • Jiigatake Snow Resort
  • Kashimayari Ski Resort
  • Rusutsu
  • Tsugaike Mountain Resort
  • White Resort Hakuba Sanosaka

If you want your ski vacation to have a European feel to it, the Epic Pass also gives you access to 26 resorts in Austria, France, Italy, and Switzerland. However, this is where things start to get complicated.

For example, if you want to visit Verbier in Switzerland and ski the amazing 4 Vallées, you will need to purchase your Epic Pass from Vail’s primary U.S. website and book your accommodation at one of the participating hotels/lodges on the mountain.

Verbier
Verbier, Switzerland. Image Credit: Lucas Picton

Your free lift tickets will be issued only after you have shown both proof of a valid accommodation booking and a valid Epic Pass. Epic Pass holders are entitled to 1 free day of skiing for each consecutive day of accommodation booked in a valid hotel/lodge.

To complicate matters further, only Epic Passes purchased via Vail’s primary U.S. website are eligible for the 5-day access. So, for example, my Epic Australia Pass, which grants me access to the majority of Vail’s resorts in the U.S., Canada, and Japan, does not allow me to ski the 4 Vallées.

Hot Tip:

It always pays to read the fine print and observe the holiday restrictions and blackout dates. You’ll also want to pay attention to which year your pass gives your onward access to — but more on that later.

Access to multiple resorts around the globe is only the first benefit of the Epic Pass. Pass holders receive 6 Ski With A Friend Tickets loaded onto the pass that you can email to your friends to receive discounted lift tickets.

Taking multiple trips to the snow each year, these tickets are awesome. My partner and I use all of ours without fail each year to save our mates money, sometimes several hundred dollars per person, per trip. Skiing is, after all, not a cheap sport, and every dollar you can save both on and off the mountain helps.

On the mountain, tapping your Epic Pass at participating retail outlets and restaurants will provide you with a percentage discount on your purchase, and every little bit helps. Because let’s face it, who hasn’t paid $20 for a very average hot dog at a ski resort before and felt violated by the experience?

Aspen Snowmass
The beautiful but pricey ski resort town of Aspen. Image Credit: Dan Bayer via Aspen Snowmass

If you don’t have your own ski gear or would like to book a lesson to improve your skiing or riding, some Epic Pass variants (such as the Epic Australia Pass) also let you hire equipment and book private and group lessons and save up to 20% on the usual price.

Planning when you purchase your pass can be as important as which pass you choose. I learned this the hard way recently when I assumed that committing to an Epic Australia Pass would grant me access to Whistler Blackcomb in January of the same year — not the case. Yes, the pass I purchased would grant me access to Whistler Blackcomb, but in January of the following season.

So in this instance, it would have been better for me to purchase via the U.S. website, access Whistler Blackcomb, and then use the U.S. pass to access the Australian resorts later in the year. Lesson learned.

Epic Local Pass 

If you feel that most of your skiing/riding will be done at U.S.-based resorts, Vail also offers the Epic Local Pass. Starting at $705, the Epic Local Pass will give you unlimited, unrestricted access to 29 resorts:

  • Afton Alps, MN
  • Alpine Valley, OH
  • Attitash Mountain Resort, NH
  • Big Boulder, PA
  • Boston Mills, OH
  • Brandywine, OH
  • Breckenridge, CO
  • Crested Butte, CO
  • Crotched Mountain, NH
  • Hidden Valley, MO
  • Hidden Valley, PA
  • Hunter Mountain, NY
  • Jack Frost, PA
  • Keystone, CO
  • Laurel Mountain, PA
  • Liberty Mountain Resort, PA
  • Mad River Mountain, OH
  • Mount Snow, VT
  • Mount Sunapee, NH
  • Mt. Brighton, MI
  • Okemo, VT
  • Paoli Peaks, IN
  • Roundtop Mountain Resort, PA
  • Seven Springs, PA
  • Snow Creek, MO
  • Stevens Pass, WA
  • Whitetail Resort, PA
  • Wildcat Mountain, NH
  • Wilmot, WI

Access to other resorts is also provided as part of the Epic Local Pass. Still, these all come with holiday restrictions and blackout dates or a cap on the total number of consecutive days you can access the resorts using the pass.

Interestingly, the Epic Local Pass includes 5 consecutive days of access to the resorts at Hakuba Valley and Rusutsu in Japan. So whilst being predominantly a U.S.-centric pass, it does provide access to these international resorts if you’re chasing down some of that heavenly Japanese pow.

Snowboarding at Niseko United
I had an entire run to myself at the amazing Niseko United ski resort. Image Credit: Lukas Picton

Epic Day Pass 

Lastly, Vail also offers an Epic Day Pass. Not to be confused with a lift ticket, the Epic Day Pass is still technically a season pass, customized to the exact number of days that you choose. So, if you’re super organized and know that you’re only going to be skiing or riding for, say, 5 days during the season, then an Epic Day Pass can save you up to 50% off of window lift ticket prices.

A key feature of the Epic Day Pass is that you can choose, for an additional cost, to include the holiday restriction/blackout dates as part of your pass. For example, a 5-day pass outside of the holidays will cost you $475 per adult, but if you know you’re going to be skiing during some of the holiday/blackout dates, you can simply pay an extra $85 to remove this restriction.

The Epic Day Pass also gives you the freedom to visit multiple resorts in the U.S., Whistler Blackcomb in Canada, and Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis in Switzerland.

Bottom Line:

Vail’s Epic Passes collectively provide access to a whopping 83 ski resorts around the globe, and this figure will only increase with Vail continuing to snap up ski resorts quicker than a crazy cat lady.

Ikon Pass

Not to be outdone by Vail Resort’s portfolio of resorts accessible via its Epic Passes, the Ikon Pass boasts access to an impressive 44 destinations around the globe.

This pass comes in 3 variations — Ikon Pass, Ikon Base Pass, and Ikon Session Pass 4-Day. The main difference between the first 2 passes is the holiday restrictions/blackout dates that apply to the cheaper Ikon Base Pass. The Ikon Session Pass allows 4 consecutive days of access at select destinations with blackout dates.

23/24 IKON Pass
Image Credit: IKON Pass
  • Ikon Pass
    • $1,259 for adults over 23 years
    • $939 for young adults aged between 13 and 22 years
    • $419 for children aged 5 and 12 years
    • $149 for infants and toddlers between 0 and 4 years
  • Ikon Base Pass
    • $929 for adults over 23 years
    • $669 for young adults aged between 13 and 22 years
    • $349 for children aged 5 and 12 years
    • $99 for infants and toddlers between 0 and 4 years
  • Ikon Session Pass 4-Day
    • $469 for adults over 23 years
    • $389 for young adults aged between 13 and 22 years
    • $279 for children aged 5 and 12 years
    • $279 for infants and toddlers between 0 and 4 years
Hot Tip:

Those who hold an Ikon Pass, Ikon Session Pass, or Ikon Base Pass for the prior season will receive a renewal discount of up to $100 off their next season pass.

Ikon Pass Unlimited Access Resorts

With the Ikon Pass, you can enjoy unlimited access to the following resorts:

  • Big Bear Mountain, CA
  • Blue Mountain, ON
  • Copper Mountain Resort, CO
  • Crystal Mountain, WA
  • Eldora Mountain Resort, CO
  • June Mountain, CA
  • Mammoth Mountain, CA
  • Palisades Tahoe, CA
  • Snowshoe, WV
  • Snowvalley, CA
  • Solitude Mountain Resort, UT
  • Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, CA
  • Steamboat, CO
  • Sugarbush Resort, VT
  • Stratton, VT
  • Tremblant, Quebec
  • Winter Park Resort, CO

Ikon Pass 7-Days Access Resorts

Keeping it more straightforward in structure than Vail’s complicated variations, the Ikon Pass gives you a simple 7 days of access to its local and international partner resorts. These include:

  • Alta Snowbird, UT
  • Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, CO
  • Aspen Snowmass, CO
  • Big Sky Resort, MT
  • Boyne Highlands, MI
  • Boyne Mountain, MI
  • Brighton Resort, UT
  • Chamonix Mont-Blanc Valley, France
  • Coronet Peak, New Zealand
  • Crystal Mountain, WA
  • Cypress Mountain, BC
  • Deer Valley Resort, UT
  • Dolomiti Superski, ITALY
  • Grandvalira Resorts, Andorra
  • Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY
  • Killington-Pico, VT
  • KITZBÜHEL, AUSTRIA
  • Loon Mountain, NH
  • Lotte Arai Resort, Japan
  • Mt. Bachelor, OR
  • Mt. Buller, Australia
  • Mt. Hutt, New Zealand
  • Newalyeska Resort, AK
  • Niseko United, Japan
  • Panorama, BC
  • Red Mountain, BC
  • The Remarkables, New Zealand
  • Revelstoke Mountain Resort, BC
  • SkiBig3, AB
  • Snowbasin, UT
  • Snowbird, UT
  • Sugarbush Resort, VT
  • Sugarloaf, ME
  • Sunday River, ME
  • Sun Peaks Resort, BC
  • Sun Valley, ID
  • Taos Ski Valley, NM
  • The Summit at Snoqualmie, WA
  • The Highlands, MI
  • Thredbo, Australia
  • Valle Nevado, Chile
  • Windham Mountain, NY
  • Zermatt Matterhorn, Switzerland

Mt Yotei as seen from the peak of Mt Niseko
A bluebird day in Niseko United allowed us to hike the peak and steal this amazing view over Mt. Yotei. Image Credit: Lukas Picton

With the Ikon Pass, you’ll also receive 10 family-and-friend discount tickets with each season pass purchase. These tickets can save your family or mates up to 25% off the cost of a lift ticket, but remember the old saying, there are “no friends on a powder day!”

Much like the Epic Passes, carrying an Ikon Pass in your pocket will get you discounted retail purchases and reduce the cost of expensive on-mountain food and beverages at participating outlets.

Ikon Pass First Tracks

You can be among the first on the slopes to enjoy the fresh powder and groomed pistes with Ikon Pass First Tracks. From January through March, pass holders can enjoy free early slope access for 1 designated morning a month at the following resorts:

  • Big Bear Mountain, CA
  • Blue Mountain, ON
  • Crystal Mountain, WA
  • Deer Valley Resort, UT
  • Palisades Tahoe, CA
  • Mammoth Mountain, CA
  • Snowshoe, WV
  • Solitude Mountain Resort, UT
  • Steamboat, CO
  • Stratton, VT
  • Sugarbush Resort, VT
  • Tremblant, Quebec
  • Winter Park Resort, CO

Early access applies to the Ikon Pass, Ikon Base Pass, Ikon Base Plus Pass, and Ikon Season Pass.

Spring Skiing

When you purchase an Ikon Pass, Ikon Base Pass, or Ikon Base Plus Pass, you’re eligible for early pre-season slope access at participating resorts to enjoy some spring skiing.

Mount Perisher
Mount Perisher. Image Credit: Lucas Picton

Summer Lift Access

When the snow melts in the Northern Hemisphere, you can use your pass to access 16 North American resorts and take advantage of free scenic chairlift and gondola rides.

Ikon Base Pass

Ikon’s second variation is the Ikon Base Pass. The 2 main differences between the Ikon Pass and the Ikon Base Pass are the inclusion of holiday restriction/blackout dates, which in the Northern Hemisphere are:

  • December 26 to 31, 2023
  • January 13 to 14, 2024
  • February 17 to 18, 2024

In the Southern Hemisphere:

  • July 1 to 16, 2023
  • July 6 to 21, 2024

With the IKON Base Pass, you get unlimited access to 14 North American resorts and up to 5 days each at a further 34 destinations worldwide.

Ikon Base Plus Pass

For $220, you can upgrade to the Ikon Base Plus Pass to include 5 days of access to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Aspen Snowmass, Deer Valley Resort, Alta Ski Area, Sun Valley, Snowbasin, and Taos.

Hot Tip:

Are you a last-minute or anxious packer? Our ultimate ski and snowboard trip packing list and best tips will help you out. 

Mountain Collective

The third ski pass that you might like to consider, especially if you plan to do a lot of resort hopping during the season, is the Mountain Collective. At only $630 for adults, $500 for teens 13 to 18, and $200 for kids 12 and under, the Mountain Collective pass is cheaper compared to the Epic and Ikon passes and gives you 2 free days of skiing or riding at each of its 24 destinations.

Mountain Collective Resorts

  • Alta Ski Area, UT
  • Arapahoe Basin Ski, CO
  • Aspen Snowmass, CO
  • Banff Sunshine, AB
  • Big Sky Resort, MT
  • Chamonix, France
  • Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, New Zealand
  • Grand Targhee Resort, WY
  • Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY
  • Le Massif De Charlevoix, QC
  • Lake Louise Ski Resort, AB
  • Marmot Basin, AB
  • Mt. Buller, Australia
  • Niseko United, Japan
  • Panorama Mountain Resort, BC
  • Revelstoke Mountain Resort, BC
  • Snowbasin, UT
  • Snowbird, UT
  • Sugar Bowl, CA
  • Sugarloaf, ME
  • Sun Peaks Resort, BC
  • Sun Valley, ID
  • Taos Ski Valley, NM
  • Valle Nevado, Chile

The Remarkables Skifield
The Remarkables Skifield, Image Credit: Lucas Picton

Assuming that you’ll be spending more than 2 days at a particular resort, simply use your pass to receive 50% off the price of all additional lift tickets that you purchase at any of the Mountain Collective destinations. You’ll also get a bonus third day at the resort of your choice.

One interesting aspect of the Mountain Collective pass is that it’s issued in limited quantities. You’ll get the best price if you purchase your pass early, as prices increase closer to the start of the season.

While there are no blackout dates for skiing or riding on any of the mountains, holders of this pass will encounter them when trying to take advantage of the special Mountain Collective lodging deals, so make sure you keep this in mind when booking.

Bonus: Fly With Alaska Airlines and Ski for Free

Alaska Airlines has partnered with 8 ski resorts in 2023 to offer free skiing when you fly the airline. In most cases, you’ll just need to show your same-day boarding pass and ID to take advantage of the promotion.

Check out our Fly Alaska, Ski Free guide to this offer as each resort has different requirements:

  • Alyeska Resort — Fly into Anchorage (ANC) in Alaska
  • Bogus Basin — Fly into Boise (BOI) in Idaho
  • Eaglecrest Ski Area — Fly into Juneau (JNU) in Alaska
  • Red Lodge Mountain — Fly into Billings (BIL) in Montana
  • RED Mountain Resort — Fly into Spokane (GEG) in Washington
  • Schweitzer Mountain Resort — Fly into Spokane (GEG) in Washington
  • Ski Marmot Basin — Fly into Edmonton (YEG) in Alberta or (YYC) in Calgary, Canada
  • Steamboat Ski & Resort — Fly into Steamboat Springs/Hayden (HDN) in Colorado

Which Annual Ski Pass Is Best?

If you want to be spoiled for choice when choosing where you ski this season, with the option to add on amazing international destinations in both hemispheres, you really can’t go wrong with Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass.

Hot Tip:

With more destinations across the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Japan, the Epic Pass pays for itself if you plan to ski more than 4 days in the season, so it’s a no-brainer regarding value.

If your alpine escapes will be in the U.S., but you’d like the option to ski internationally, and you have kids in tow, consider the Ikon Base Pass. The tiered pricing structure for young adults, children, and infants makes it an attractive option for families. Just watch out for those blackout dates when booking.

If you plan a nomadic season and want to explore multiple resorts for shorter stays, then definitely take a look at the Mountain Collective pass. I would love to hear from someone who takes up the challenge to ski all 24 locations available on this pass, bringing their daily lift ticket cost down to around $11!

Hot Tip:

Check out how much flying with your gear will cost you in our guide that examines 70+ airline ski/snowboard baggage policies

Final Thoughts

An alpine holiday is a bit like a ski boot. There is no one-size-fits-all option that works for everyone, and the same is true when considering which season pass best suits you and your family.

I recommend planning which mountain(s) you intend to visit and working backward from there, keeping in mind that some of the passes cover multiple mountains and all have different benefits. Also, always remember to read the fine print regarding holiday restrictions, blackout periods, usage limits, and timings.

Then, once you commit to your pass, make sure you use it! Life is short, and if you’re anything like me, the mountain is my happy place. When you’re carving down that mountain on your skis or board, you literally can’t think of anything else but your next turn. And when you get to the point in the season when you’ve visited the mountain enough that your pass has paid for itself, there’s no better feeling than knowing you’re essentially skiing for free.

Verbier Switzerland
Verbier Switzerland. Image Credit: Lucas Picton

Lastly, and as an Aussie snowboarder writing for a U.S. publication, I know you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to ski resorts in your home country. Still, I encourage you to use your season pass to full advantage and book a trip to the Southern Hemisphere and come and enjoy some awesome Australian snow, or visit our cousins in New Zealand and carve up some Kiwi powder.

After all, we live in a world of a 365-day ski season and endless winter — you just have to chase it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best ski pass?

Deciding which ski pass is best really depends on which mountain(s) you wish to ski, how many days of the season you wish to ski, and if you wish to ski on certain public holidays and blackout dates. There is no one-size-fits-all option that works for everyone, and the same is true when considering which season pass best suits you and your family.

What ski pass is the best value?

Once again, this is subjective, but if you want to have widest range of mountains to ski on, both in the U.S. and internationally, and you wish to ski more than 4 days in the season, then the Epic Pass presents the best value.

How much does it cost to go skiing?

An alpine holiday can be as cheap or as lavish as you choose to make it. There are, however, unavoidable costs such as lift tickets, which begin between $60 to $80 but can go as high as $200 if purchased on the same day at the ticket window. Save money by borrowing gear, driving to your closest ski resort, skiing during the week, and/or purchasing a season pass.

Can I buy a pass directly from my favorite resort?

Yes. Many resorts offer their own season passes. These are usually only for use at the mountain of purchase. Consult individual resort websites for details and pricing.

Can I lend my season pass to a friend?

No. All passes and non-transferable and require a valid photo ID, and often you’ll see lift attendants checking pass details — if caught, you could be removed from the resort and have your pass canceled.

Lukas Picton's image

About Lukas Picton

Lukas escaped his hometown south of Sydney and moved to the big smoke immediately after high-school, but the bright lights of the city weren’t enough, and he soon set his sights on more exotic international destinations and has been in love with travel ever since.

Coupled with his passion for photography, Lukas is constantly seeking out new places to visit, and ways to get that elusive ‘perfect shot’ whilst on his adventures and as a result is ranked in the top 2% of global travelers by App in the Air.

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