5 Reasons 2 Ski Local On Your Next Vacation and Skip The Epic & Ikon Pass Resorts

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

Overview of Mt. Hood & Timberline Lodge – Image taken by: Severin Sadjina

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!

#3 Cost

Pebble Creek Ski Resort Skier slashing powder

Chad Mehmel enjoying the knee deep blower – Image by: Local Freshies

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.

#2 Crowds

Only lift lines you’ll see at a local resort Image by: Local Freshies

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.

#1 Powder

Pomerelle Ski Resort Albion Idaho Twin Falls Snowboarding Powder

Powder stashes galore at smaller ski areas like Pomerelle – Image taken by: Local Freshies

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.

Power Pass

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!



3 thoughts on “5 Reasons 2 Ski Local On Your Next Vacation and Skip The Epic & Ikon Pass Resorts

  1. I just came back from Sunpeaks resort in BC. Canada. Ski in ski out small town charm. Every year for the past twenty nine years in hosts the F.I.S. Speed skiing world cup.
    I was there as a competitor. Love this place. Come next spring and watch us speed down the Head Walls at over 100 mph sounding like a jet. The people of Sunpeaks make it special.

  2. Those aren’t Very Good Reasons at All TBH!!! I don’t understand what you’re trying to even say get a lift ticket for one small mom-and-pop place instead of icon that has 38 places?? I’m in salt Lake City and there’s at least 10 ski resorts within 30 minute drive from my house!! But the icon has only five of them on there, and really only three if you’re a snowboarder like me. Because deer Valley and Alta are skiing only which is absolutely ridiculous!!! So I have 1 unlimited with solitude the rest are your five to seven times depending on pass you get. I haven’t checked out the specifics on the epic!! But I know the icon also has and I know alot of Colorado and some California too which are all 6 to 10 hour drive from salt Lake. So it’s hard to beat that man for 750 to $1,000 you get 38 places in multiple different states!!! The only other one I would try to consider is the big Cottonwood or Little Cottonwood only it’s just as two resorts on each one and they want 12 1300.. but it’s good to have unlimited Brighton because they have and are the only place around here with night time riding available

    1. Hey Tommy,

      First, thanks for commenting and I totally get your viewpoint and get your perspective. To us, we’d rather shred at a local mountain on vacation that’s cheaper for an overall trip and has less people than the resorts on Epic or Ikon. Of course, we do own a Tahoe Local Pass because that’s our closest resort (5 minutes from our office). And when we went on vacation the few times we did visit the Epic resorts the lines have been 30-45 minutes long on a powder day AND nearly all the untracked powder was decimated within an hour… while in comparison our visits to places like Idaho which still have Mom & Pop resorts have no lift lines and even on the busiest days we can find untracked powder days or WEEKS after a storm. Also, you can get a $2 beer AT the resort… which is friggin’ awesome.

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