Ski: Last Chance for Cheap(er) Epic and Ikon Passes This Weekend

Buying a season ski pass is always a bittersweet experience.

On one hand, you’re dishing out hundreds, if not closer to a thousand, dollars. That’s not easy on the bank account, or on morale.

On the other, you’re setting yourself up for a fun winter - paid in advance, up front, so you can leave your wallet at home when the snow starts falling (that is, if you remember to put a sandwich in your pocket). It certainly gives you something to look forward to, a reason to start sorting out your gear and watch ski videos on YouTube.

Now, if ski season still seems far away to you, think again - the hour is upon us. Resorts are already starting to open. Keystone has announced an early opening tomorrow, October 12th - the earliest it has opened in 20 years. Its neighbor, Arapahoe Basin, opened today. Obviously, not all, or many, of the trails will be open this early in the season, but it’s possible to head up and take a few runs already, if you can believe it.

So, if you still haven’t bought your season pass, you should get on it soon, not only because things are starting to get going, but because prices are going up.

The price of Vail’s Epic Pass, for example, is set to rise this weekend. Currently at $969, the website explains that the price will increase after October 13th, although no information is provided about the amount of the increase. Many individual resorts will also increase the price of their passes in the coming month.

In other words: If you’ve been waiting to make a decision, now’s the time to make the decision.

While the Epic Pass will no doubt give you sticker shock, it is still one of the best values out there. It gives you access to 37 ski resorts around the world, including resorts in Colorado, California, Utah, Vermont, Japan, and Europe, among others.

Anyone planning to ski 10 or more days will easily get their money’s worth; those skiing the most expensive resorts, like Vail, will save money even sooner. Two notable additions to the pass in recent years are Crested Butte and Telluride, which makes it quite attractive to Colorado residents.

The Epic Pass’ main competitor, the Ikon Pass, will also increase its price next week on October 17th (currently priced at $1,049, with no mention of how much it will increase after the deadline). It has access to 41 resorts, including international destinations like Chile, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Australia, in addition to Colorado, Utah, Vermont, and several other states. The Ikon Pass is very similar to the Epic Pass in the value it offers. One must look at the resorts on each pass to discern which is more appropriate.

Whatever you do, don’t pay the window price at any of the resorts. You can buy four-pack combos at many mountains, and there are always 50% off deals, like Vail’s Epic Day Passes (from 1 to 7 days) or the good, old-fashioned two-for-one at local gas stations.

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I have been a full-time travel writer since 2010, a nomad-at-large and travel columnist, penning profiles, features, and dispatches from afar. My “wake and wander” trave...