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Your on-mountain guide, curated by Halfdays
The temps are cooling, the leaves are changing, and snow is starting to appear on the peaks… which means ski season is around the corner! Still haven’t bought your ski pass for the season? Us too. Don’t worry, it isn’t too late (though you definitely want to buy before they’re gone in December!).
Whether you’re a mountain town local or new to skiing or snowboarding, if you plan to ski/ride more than ~6-7 days at major ski resorts, a multi-mountain ski pass is the way to go and will pay for itself (considering that many single day tickets cost upwards of $200!). Each pass offers different benefits, limitations, and most importantly, destinations.
You’ve probably heard of the Epic and Ikon passes - these two well-known passes will grant you unlimited access to some of the world’s top ski destinations (check out our guide to beginner-friendly resorts here!). The Mountain Collective pass takes a different approach, offering pass-holders two days at each of their 24 big-name resorts - a great option if you like to travel and explore new resorts. Looking to take some solo ski trips this season? We have the perfect guide for you.
We broke down the essential differences between the Epic, Ikon, and Mountain Collective passes so that you can make an informed decision that best suits your individual 2023/2024 ski season needs!
Ski passes are notoriously expensive - however, if you plan to ski even just six or seven times throughout the season, it’s worth buying a pass. For your cheapest multi-mountain option, the Mountain Collective Pass comes in at $630. The Epic Pass will run you up $949 (note that Epic Pass prices go up Oct 11!), while the Ikon goes for $1,259. For skiers and boarders with less restrictive schedules, who only want to access a few select local mountains, or who don’t get out on the slopes all too often, Ikon and Epic each offer lower-cost passes with more limited access. These reduced rates do come with blackout dates, so be sure to plan accordingly!
Pro Tip: If you only plan on hitting the slopes one to three times this season and want a good deal, pass holders typically receive a limited amount of discounted buddy passes. So if you plan on skiing with a pass holder, you can get up to 25% off a day pass. Want more info on Buddy Passes? We’ll dive into those below.
Unexpected life events happen, from illnesses to injury, so it’s a great idea to get some form of coverage on your ski pass. Thankfully, Ikon, Epic, and Mountain Collective all offer some form of coverage.
Epic Coverage is included in your Epic Pass and covers injury, resort closures, and even job loss.
The Ikon Pass offers a No Hassle Deferral, which means that if you decide not to use your pass after purchase for any reason, your 2023/2024 season pass can roll over and be used for the 2024/2025 season. Coverage for unforeseen events such as injury is also available for purchase through Ikon. Ikon also includes a COVID Closure Credit if there is an eligible Covid-related closure of two consecutive days or more at a North American Ikon Pass destination.
Mountain Collective does not include any coverage, however, pass insurance is available to purchase for $36, and offers full pass reimbursement should you be unable to use your pass.
No matter which pass you choose, you’ll get access to special bonus savings and perks. Epic’s savings are hard to beat; pass-holders get a hefty 20% off food, lodging, rentals, and lessons at Epic resorts. Ikon offers food and lodging savings, too, but the discount ranges between mountains. A substantial perk of being an Epic or Ikon pass-holder is Epic’s Ski With A Friend or Ikon’s Friends & Family tickets, which allow you to bring your friends along and get them discounted lift tickets. Mountain Collective, in addition to 50% off all ski days not covered by your pass, offers up to 25% in savings on select hotels and condos.
The Ikon, Epic, and Mountain Collective passes each offer skiers and boarders distinct benefits. The Epic Pass gets you unlimited days at 38 mountains in North America, whereas the Ikon gets you unlimited days at 16, and for a higher cost. Mountain Collective’s approach gets skiers a totally different experience, with 2-day access to several mountains making it a great option for road-trippers or frequent travelers.
So, which pass should you buy? Ultimately, it comes down to where you plan to ski the most (check out the list above) and your budget. Live in Denver? Tough call between Epic and Ikon, as both provide access to amazing Colorado ski resorts including Steamboat Springs, Winter Park, Telluride, Aspen, and Breckenridge, which is why many splurge for both! Live in Salt Lake City? Ikon or Mountain Collective may be better options for you, with access to far more Utah mountains (such as Snowbird) than Epic (which only grants you access to Park City - though Park City is an incredible and vast resort!). If you’re looking for the biggest bang for your buck, the Epic Pass takes the cake when you factor in cost, destination list, insurance coverage, and extra discounts.
Buying a ski pass is a big investment, but ultimately worthwhile for any avid skiers and snowboarders who are looking to spend as many days as they can on the slopes. Whichever pass you choose, you’re bound to have a fun, powder-filled winter! See you on the slopes. ⛷️
Unlimited access to 38 resorts in North America
No blackout dates
Telluride (7 days)
Attitash Mountain Resort
Mad River Mountain
Liberty Mountain Resort
Roundtop Mountain Resort
7 days total at:
Fernie Alpine Resort
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
Kimberley Alpine Resort
Nakiska Ski Area
Skirama Dolomiti, Italy (7 Consecutive Days)
Les 3 Vallées, Italy (7 Consecutive Days)
Verbier 4 Vallées, Switzerland (5 Consecutive Days)
Ski Arlberg, Austria (3 Consecutive Days)
Falls Creek, Australia
Hakuba Valley, Japan (5 days)
Rusutsu, Japan (5 days)
Unlimited access to 16 resorts in North America
No blackout dates
Alyeska Resort (7 days)
Aspen Snowmass (7 days)
Arapahoe Basin (7 days)
Big Bear Mountain Resort
Sun Valley (7 days)
Sunday River (7 days)
Sugarloaf (7 days)
The Highlands (7 days)
Boyne Mountain (7 days)
Big Sky Resort (7 days)
Taos Ski Valley (7 days)
Windham Mountain (7 days)
Loon Mountain (7 days)
Mt. Bachelor (7 days)
Solitude Mountain Resort
Deer Valley Resort (7 days)
Brighton (7 days)
Alta Ski Area (7 days)
Snowbird (7 days)
Snowbasin (7 days)
Killington-Pico (7 days)
Crystal Mountain (7 days)
The Summit at Snoqualmie (7 days)
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (7 days)
Blue Mountain, ON
SkiBig3, AB (7 total days at Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise, and Mt. Norquay)
Revelstoke Mountain Resort, BC (7 days)
Cypress Mountain, BC (7 days)
Red Mountain, BC (7 days)
Panorama, BC (7 days)
Sun Peaks Resort, BC (7 days)
Chamonix Mont-Blanc Valley, France (7 days)
Dolomiti Superski, Italy (7 days)
Grandvalira Resorts, Andorra (7 days)
Kitzbühel, Austria (7 days)
Zermatt Matterhorn, Switzerland (7 days)
Thredbo, Australia (7 days)
Mt buller, Australia (7 days)
Coronet peak, The Remarkables & Mt Hutt, New Zealand (7 days)
Niseko United, Japan (7 days)
Lotte Arai resort, Japan (7 days)
Valle Nevado, Chile (7 days)
No unlimited access
No blackout dates
2 days at every destination
Alta Ski Area (2 days)
Snowbasin (2 days)
Snowbird (2 days)
Sugarbowl (2 days)
Arapahoe Basin (2 days)
Aspen Snowmass (2 days)
Sun Valley (2 days)
Sugarloaf (2 days)
Big Sky Resort (2 days)
Taos Ski Valley (2 days)
Grand Targhee Resort (2 days)
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (2 days)
Banff Sunshine (2 days)
Lake Louise (2 days)
Le Massif De Charlevoix (2 days)
Marmot Basin (2 days)
Panorama Mountain Resort (2 days)
Revelstoke Mountain Resort (2 days)
Sun Peaks Resort (2 days)
Niseko United, Japan (2 days)
Chamonix, France (2 days)
Mt Buller, Australia (2 days)
Coronet Peak + The Remarkables, New Zealand (2 days)
Valle Nevado, Chile (2 days)
Brit Schulte is a member of the marketing team at Halfdays, a ski & outdoors content creator, and ski instructor based in Breckenridge, Colorado. She learned to ski at the age of 23, fell in love with the sport and the mountains, and the rest is history. She loves to share her passion for skiing with others through social media (especially TikTok!).@mtn.brit