Epic vs. Ikon ski passes: How to get the most mountain for your money

The time to save on next season’s skiing and riding is now.

The battle lines have been drawn in the cold war skirmishes between the Epic Pass of Vail Resorts and the Ikon Pass of Alterra Mountain Co., which includes Steamboat and Winter Park along with partners Copper Mountain and Eldora, owned by Utah-based Powdr Corp.

Alterra, created last year with the merger of the Aspen Skiing Co. and KSL Capital Partners of Denver, fired the first salvo last month when it announced details of the inaugural Ikon Pass. Vail Resorts responded on Tuesday with details of Epic’s 10th anniversary price outline.

All passes are on sale now at epicpass.com and ikonpass.com, so here is a breakdown of each pass so you can choose the one that works for you.

The cost:


The full Epic and Ikon passes are both priced at $899, but Ikon is priced lower at the local level. The Ikon Base Pass is going for $599 as compared to the Epic local pass of $669.

The mountains:

The Epic Pass rocked the ski industry with its introduction a decade ago, uniting all Vail Resorts while slashing season ticket prices. This year, Epic adds Telluride, which is not a Vail Resorts property.

Counting Vail Resorts holdings and partners, the Epic Pass will be good at 61 resorts in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Europe. The Ikon Pass is good at 26 destinations in the U.S. and Canada.

The perks:

Vail has thrown in some deal sweeteners. For a limited time, skiers and riders can make a $49 down payment to lock in the lowest prices of the year, with the remainder due in the fall. Skiers who purchase a daily lift ticket this spring can apply that amount toward the purchase of season passes for next season. There is also a $99 Epic Pass deal for active, retired military and families for the upcoming season.

And, with the Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack, kids from kindergarten through fifth grade can ski free four days each at Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail and Beaver Creek. No adult purchase is required to get the SchoolKids packs.

Breaking it down to the level of the cost-conscious Front Range skier who can only dream about going on an international ski vacation some day and likes to stay local, the Ikon Base pass will get you unlimited skiing at Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Eldora plus five days at Steamboat for $599. By comparison, the Epic Local Pass at $669 will get you unlimited skiing at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin plus 10 days total at Vail and Beaver Creek.

If you have some money to burn and see your ski adventures taking you internationally, the Epic Pass will provide access to partners in Japan, France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria; 30 in Europe and nine in Japan, according to the website.

Your other options:

While the Ikon Pass scooped up several resorts from the Mountain Collective, that pass will continue next season offering two days at each of 16 resorts — including Utah’s Alta, Snowbird and Snowbasin, Aspen Snowmass, Wyoming’s Jackson Hole, California’s Mammoth, Vermont’s Sugarbush and now Montana’s Big Sky — for $409.

If you’re more of a one-mountain kind of person, ski areas also are beginning to announce solo season ticket prices. On Monday, Copper Mountain announced season ticket prices of $459, along with the news that is replacing its two main lifts out of the center village base area. Winter Park followed on Tuesday with an unrestricted season pass of $429. We will update as more roll in.

Denver Post reporter Jason Blevins contributed to this report.

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