If you haven’t heard, there are now two major players in the season pass game: Epic Pass & Ikon Pass. On the surface they seem like a great idea, but are they for everyone? For us, we’d rather skip these areas and ski smaller when we go on vacation.
5 Reasons To Skip Epic / Ikon Pass Resorts & Ski Smaller
#5 One-of-a kind Experience
Have you ever been to Applebee’s or Outback Steak House? No matter where you go in the country, you know what to expect. This is similar to corporate owned ski resorts. Sure, the mountain’s geography is different, but the amenities, events and housing are cookie cutter. Small ski areas are not like that at all. Like a limited pair of sneakers, they have deep history, authentic charm and just do things a bit different. From historic lodges like the one at Timberline Ski Resort to spring-time events such as the Tom Sims Retro World Championships at Soda Springs, there’s nothing like them in the world.
#4 Support Local
We LOVE local Mom & Pop businesses from breweries to lodging to ski & snowboard shops. It’s what makes ski-towns so special. The symbiotic relationship between a small local’s resort and its ski-town adds a funkiness you just can’t find at a major resort. For example, Whitewater Ski Resort’s bar on the mountain serves brews from their local micro-brewery Nelson Brewing Company and the town itself doesn’t even have a Starbucks!
We know what you’re thinking… “But these mega-season passes make it so I only have to go a few days to cover my cost.” You have to remember they’re like a casino. They want to entice you to come ski for cheap and then STAY at their lodging, buy their food and drink their beer. At $12 a beer and $300+ for lodging / night, does that sound affordable? I think not. A small local resort like Pebble Creek offers lift tickets for less than 50 bucks, beers ON THE SLOPES for $2 and lodging in town for under $99 / night. In the end, it’s actually cheaper.
There are now 750,000 early season Epic Pass Holders and that number will continue to exponentially grow. THAT’S A LOT OF people even with more ski resorts getting onto these passes. Instead, why not escape the masses and hit up a smaller ski area? You can even show up late and still find a parking space on a weekend.
Personally, we’ve noticed a MAJOR swell of people hitting slopes on Vail – Owned resorts, especially on powder days. It’s gotten to the point that it sucks the air right out of the fresh snow. Skip the feeding frenzy and head off the beaten path to resorts like Turner Mountain, Lookout Pass, or Pomerelle. You’ll find powder DAYS or even WEEKS after a storm.
Small Ski Areas Combat Against Big Box Consumerism
If these reasons don’t entice you, the independent ski areas are also changing their game plan by offering incredible savings AND value that the larger resorts can’t compete with.
Mission: Affordable Season Pass
Powderhorn Mountain in Colorado announced a temporary 57% price reduction from previous season pricing called: Mission: Affordable season pass sale. Through April 1, you can get an unlimited season pass for $259 which the larger resorts just can’t offer.
Five local small hills located in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona have joined forces giving access to their resorts AND including limited skiing at more than 20 other resorts in Japan, Europe and the U.S. such as Copper Mountain, Eldora and Crested Butte.
Sunny Soaker Pass
Ski Sunlight, outside of Glenwood Springs, is offering the Sunny Soaker Pass good for unlimited skiing AND soaking at the world famous hot springs. What a great combo!
After so many years of delving into data and trying to find the “best” ski resort, we’ve realized the best doesn’t mean the biggest or the most snowfall. It’s about the one-of-a-kind experience and getting away from the crowds. To do that, you must pick a place that the masses don’t.
So, for your next vacation, skip the Disney World’s of skiing and ski smaller. You won’t regret it!