Though many warm mountain days still lie ahead, fall is prime time for deciding where to ski during the upcoming season. An impressive snowpack during the 2018-19 will assuredly get more folks out on the hills this year, so being strategic as to where to spend those ski or snowboard dollars is imperative if crowded slopes aren’t your thing.
However, while Utah’s liquor laws might be confusing to some, trying to figure out the best opportunities among the newly-minted, multi-resort pass options might be even more challenging to comprehend. While this helpful article from The New York Times manages to unravel the myriad of opportunities that make up the 2019-2020 multi-mountain passes, we’ve also put together the following primer as a resource to help you decide which mountain (or mountains …) calls your name.
It should be noted that discount tickets are available for most resorts (if purchased in advance) at local ski/snowboard shops or Costco, but season passes are usually the best value, as long as you spend a certain number of days on the mountain.Deer Valley Resort Photo credit: Deer Valley Resort
The toniest of Utah resorts, the skier-only Deer Valley Resort was consistently ranked as one of the top resorts in North America by Ski Magazine until the periodical eliminated its resort rankings last fall (though Deer Valley still earned a “Best Service” distinction). But for those of us who have chosen to “Ski the Deer Valley Difference®” (yup, the saying is even registered) for years, the ranking was just window dressing to miles of corduroy leading to large servings of world-famous chili. With its recent acquisition by Alterra Mountain Co., Deer Valley’s full season pass options now include certain ski privileges provided by the Ikon Base Pass at 40 resorts, including limited days at Utah resorts Solitude, Brighton, Alta and Snowbird.
Full season passes are outlined in the table below, with restrictions regarding the Ikon pass as noted.Pass Name Through
*Midweek, Senior and Adaptive Season Passes do not receive a complimentary Ikon Base Pass
**Military Season Passes are valid for active, reserve, honorably discharged and retired U.S. Military personnel and their spouse and are non-transferable. A current valid military photo ID for each pass holder must be presented at the time the pass is issued. Honorably discharged members of the military can purchase a military pass by calling 435-645-6626
***Tot Season Passes are not included in the Wasatch Benefit Program
There are also more wallet-friendly options available, such as Midweek Season Passes at just $1,350 (until Oct. 16) good Mondays-Fridays (but not during the Christmas holiday), or via Locals Only® Passes, which provide discounts of up to 40% off the ticket window rate:Pass Name Pass Price Per-Day Pricing Adult (18+) 5 Pass
When (weather permitting) the resort opens on Dec. 7, it will be interesting to see the effect of the Ikon Pass as it continues to offer up Deer Valley terrain to more skiers than before.Park City Mountain Photo credit: Park City Mountain
As Vail Resorts, Inc., which owns Park City Mountain, continues to resemble Pac Man – gobbling up resorts like blinking ghosts – the value of the company’s Epic Pass continues to grow. New this year, Epic Passholders have access to Snowbasin, Sun Valley and (if you’re in the area) Rusutsu-Japan, providing access to a massive number of resorts across North America and around the world.
But unlike Deer Valley Resort, which limits its number of skiers each day, Park City Mountain does not have a daily limit, sometimes resulting in long lift lines on the busiest days of the season. With the most terrain of any resort in North America, however, there’s plenty of mountain for everyone once you’ve made it past either the Park City or Canyons base areas.
Its cornerstone pass product, the restricted Epic Local pass, includes some blackout dates, but costs just $719 for adults, $579 for teens (ages 13-18) and $379 for children (ages 5-23). While unrestricted full Epic Passes are $969 for ages 13 and older, or $509 for ages 5-12, and offer unlimited riding at Vail’s wholly-owned resorts, with limited days at additional ski areas in Canada, Europe and Peak Resorts in the Northeast (pending regulatory reviews). Little ones through age four can receive a free season pass.
A truly “epic” value when it comes to passes is the Military Epic Pass option, which offers a full, unrestricted pass for just $159 for either active or retired military, with the same price offered to their dependents.Snowbird, Alta or … Both? Photo credit: Snowbird
For skiers and snowboarders, alike, Snowbird is hallowed ground, where extreme athletes and every-day cruisers can both find terrain to their liking. However, skiing purists (but not snowboarders) might prefer the Alta-Bird Pass, which offers a great value by allowing unlimited access to both resorts, while the Ikon and Mountain Collective passes provide access to additional ski areas beyond Little Cottonwood Canyon. For those looking to stay at Snowbird, or preferring to combine Alta and the Bird, the pass options are as follows (info on Alta-only passes can be found here):Pass Type Current Price
One of the sweetest benefits of living (or just visiting) Utah is the Ski Utah 5th & 6th Grade Passport. At an all-in cost of just $45, 5th Graders can ski or ride three times at EACH of Utah’s resorts – which means a whopping 45 days on the mountain for just $45. The 6th Grade Passport is a little more modest with just on ticket at each mountain, but that’s still 15 days of skiing for just $15. Of course, the kids will likely need an adult to drive them to the mountain, so consider getting the Ski Utah Yeti Pass for $649, and receive on ticket at each of Utah’s 15 resorts to accompany your little shredder on his or her quest to conquer ALL the snow in Utah.
Additional areas to consider in Northern Utah include the budget-friendly Brighton, easy-to-navigate Solitude, charming Sundance and deeply-snowed Snowbasin. But wherever you find your favorite stash of Utah powder, you’ll find just one more reason why people Choose Park City. Connect with Christine Grenney at 435-640-4238, or visiting her website by clicking here to learn more about the distinctions between each resort, and the many mountain properties providing easy access to each.