Got snow? It will be here soon, so now is the time to plan your winter getaway and take advantage of discount deals on lodging, lift tickets and airfare. Here are the best deals for downhill diehards, but act fast, since many of these ski vacation bargains melt away on Labor Day or soon after.
So get those goggles and and neck gaters ready to fly.
Crested Butte, Colorado – Get a $300 airfare credit on flights booked into the Gunnison-Crested Butte airport before January 8, 2018. The airfare credit drops to $200 for flights through February 6th, and $100 after that. Also, get a 30% discount on lodging if you book before September 15th.
- My favorite place to ski here in what locals call “Crusty Butt” is in Paradise Bowl.
Alta, Utah – Buy season pass before September 13th and get the lowest plus two bonus days at Snowbird, Deer Valley and Solitude, as part of Alta’s Wasatch Benefit pass program. Family passes for two adults and two children are $1,999, adult passes are $999, and senior passes for ages 65-79 are $649. If you are 80 or over, you can ski Alta all season for just $50. Now that’s a deal! Alta also has an interchangeable ticket with Snowbird, next door on the other side of the ridge.
- My favorite place to ski here are the open glades of West Rustler.
Mammoth Mountain, California – This resort had one of its best seasons in history last season, with so much snow – more than 330 inches – it stayed open through August 6th. The best pre-season deal is $119 a day for lifts and lodging, if booked before September 18, and kids stay free and ski free, which is a fabulous family discount.
- My favorite place to ski here is the powder field under the long and ancient Chair 10 (Gold Rush).
Best multi-resort ski passes
Now that Vail Resorts owns or manages probably half the ski resorts in North America, they offer a three multi-resort Epic Pass choices to fit your needs, from unlimited skiing and riding to one better suited for that one big annual ski or snowboard vacation with your buds or your kids. Prices go up after Labor Day.
Epic Pass – Ski unlimited and unrestricted from opening day to closing day for $859, and $449 for children ages 5-12, at 45 mountains around the world. This pass pays for itself in just over four days of skiing or snowboarding, with full access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Park City in Utah, incorporating the former Canyons Resort; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe; Afton Alps in Minnesota; Mt. Brighton in Michigan; Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin; Whistler Blackcomb in Canada; and Perisher in Australia. Plus, the Epic Pass grants limited access to Arlberg in Austria; Les 3 Vallées, Paradiski and Tignes-Val D’Isere in France; Skirama Dolomiti in Italy and 4 Vallées in Switzerland.
Epic Local Pass – For $639 for adults and $339 for children ages 5-12, you get unlimited and unrestricted skiing or riding at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin with limited restrictions at Park City, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood, plus a total of 10 days at Vail, Beaver Creek, Stowe in Vermont, and Whistler Blackcomb with holiday restrictions.
Epic 4-Day – This is a great option for a short ski trip, since the pass pays for itself in just over two days. You get a total of four unrestricted days valid at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Whistler Blackcomb, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood and Arapahoe Basin, plus four free days at Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton or Wilmot Mountain. The Epic 4-Day Pass is $419 for adults and $229 for children (ages five to 12).
I call the Mountain Collective the Anti-Vail Pass. It offers discounted skiing and riding in a growing number of non-Vail resorts in the West, Canada and overseas, now totaling 16 independent mountain resorts.
Sugarbush, Vermont and Snowbasin, Utah have joined (alphabetically) Alta, Aspen Snowmass, Banff/Sunshine/Lake Louise , Coronet Peak-The Remarkables (New Zealand), Jackson Hole, Lake Louise, Mammoth, Revelstoke, Snowbird, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Sun Valley, Taos, Telluride and Thredbo in this alliance of 16 iconic destinations with with more than 51,306 acres of terrain, 2,517 trails and 458 lift.
Price is $469 for adults and $99 for kids to age 12. Note – there are fixed supplies of passes at this price, so get yours before they run out and you lose out.
Also new for the 2017-18 season, Mountain Collective passholders receive twice the number of days at popular destinations in Utah and Alberta, and passholders get unlimited 50 percent off days with no blackouts all season.
I’ve been to many of these mountains, and they are all great.
- Jackson Hole – my favorite place to ski is the top-to-bottom run that starts off the Kemper lift
- Lake Louise – my favorite place to ski is the Men’s World Cup run
- Squaw Valley – my favorite place to ski is K-22
- Snowbird – my favorite place to ski is anywhere in Mineral Basin
- Taos – my favorite place to ski is Honeysuckle
Mountain Collective also gives you two additional days at Global Affiliate Resorts Valle Nevado, Chile, Hakuba Valley, Japan and Chamonix Mont Blanc, France, and exclusive lodging deals at all member resorts.
It’s also the only multi-resort pass we know of that includes a complimentary, one-year Protect Our Winters membership. The mission of Protect Our Winters is to unite the winter sports community on the important issue of climate change.
Where’s your favorite place to ski? Or which resort is on your wish list? Add a comment below.