It's barely autumn, but 'tis the season to mull over season ski pass choices. Indeed, Colorado residents can snag screaming early-season deals, but you have to make up your mind before the snow starts flying. Opportunities abound with the possibilities: Should you spring for unrestricted multi-mountain access? Get a cheaper option that comes with pesky blackout days? Commit to monogamy with one resort? Get a few four-packs so you can ski around? Or choose a jet-setting pass that inspires you to explore resorts farther afield? Oh, the dilemma of the Colorado powder junky.
Fortunately for you, we've done the work when it comes to choosing a 2015-2016 Colorado ski pass. But don’t wait too long to make your decision, as some deals end soon. Other prices are bound to go up, although resorts are mum on exactly when. So take a look at the intel below and snag a pass perfect for you, while the getting is still good. See you on the slopes.
Central Mountain Passes for Front Rangers
Options abound for multi-mountain passes to resorts that are within day-trip range of Denver. The main decisions to make: Where do you want to ski, how much do you have to spend, and can you deal with blackout dates?
Epic Pass: $769, 12 mountains: This is the mack daddy pass if you love to ski at Vail and also want to be able to hit a slew of other areas, including some in Utah, California, the Midwest, and beyond. It gives you unlimited access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Perisher in Australia (2016), Afton Alps, and Mt. Brighton. There are no blackout dates (and let’s just say that hitting the slopes on days when other people’s passes are blacked out is pretty choice). The price increases September 7.
Epic Local: $579, 11 mountains: The Epic Local is a great choice for skiers and riders who like lots of options, can deal with blackout dates, and don’t need more than 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek. This pass comes with unlimited skiing and riding at Breckenridge, Keystone, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, and Arapahoe Basin, plus 10 days combined at Vail and Beaver Creek (with some blackout dates), and access to Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood with blackout dates. The price increases on September 7.
Keystone A-Basin Pass: $299, 2 mountains: If you want a multi-mountain season pass but are on a budget, this is a good option. You can ski/ride all season at Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, but you’ll have to contend with some blackout dates. The price increases September 7.
Summit Value Pass: $489, 3 mountains: For $190 more than the Keystone A-Basin Pass, you can get rid of the blackout dates at these two mountains, plus get access to Breckenridge (with some blackouts). The price increases September 7.
Rocky Mountain Super Pass: $469, Copper and Winter Park: This pass gives you unlimited skiing and riding at Copper and Winter Park, with no blackouts—plus the added bonus of five days at Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand.
Rocky Mountain Super Pass +: $559, 5 mountains: This is the Rocky Mountain Super Pass on steroids. It gets you unlimited skiing at Copper and Winter Park, and sweetens the deal with six days at Steamboat, three days at Crested Butte, and seven days at Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand.
Route 40 Pass: $469, Winter Park and Steamboat: New this year, this is a great option for anyone who wants to ride at Winter Park all season plus take a long weekend to Steamboat (you get four days at “The Boat”). There are no blackouts, and this price is guaranteed through September 8—then it might increase.
Multi-Mountain Passes for Jet-Setters
Mountain Collective: 13 destinations, 26 days, $399: With 13 destinations in four countries, the Mountain Collective is a dream come true for those with wanderlust. It might even inspire you to pack your gear in a van and dirtbag it all winter. Count ’em up: two days each at Sun Valley, Alta/Snowbird, Ski Banff/Lake Louise/Sunshine, Aspen/Snowmass/Aspen Highlands/Buttermilk, Jackson Hole, Mammoth, Stowe, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Taos, Whistler Blackcomb, Thredbo in Australia, Valle Nevado in Chile, and Hakuba Valley in Japan. A bonus: no blackouts. If you burn through both days anywhere, you can buy more lift tickets at half price. The price on this pass increases the more they sell, and quantities are limited, so act now.
M.A.X. Pass: 22 resorts, 110 days, $699: You’d be hard-pressed to tick off every resort included in the new M.A.X. Pass, making it a good choice for anyone with SADD (Skiing Attention Deficit Disorder. Yes, we made up this affliction, but you get the drift.). Jumping on the multi-destination, multi-state bandwagon, the M.A.X. ups the ante with five days at 22 different resorts: Big Sky, Boreal, Brighton, Copper, Cypress, Crystal, Las Vegas, Mt. Bachelor, Steamboat, The Summit, and Winter Park in the West. Eastern options include Blue Mountain, Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain, Killington, Loon, Pico Mountain, Snowshoe, Stratton, Sugarloaf, Sunday River, and Tremblant. There are no blackouts.
Ski around with Four-Packs
Many ski areas sell four-packs before the season starts. This is a great way to go if you don’t ski a lot, have a hard time committing to one area, or want to storm chase. Prices and deadlines vary, some of which are coming up quickly.
Aspen Classic Pass: $239 gets you four days at any of the four Aspen mountains—Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk. After October 18, the price jumps to $249, and the deadline is November 13. You have to purchase this in person in Aspen or at designated events on the Front Range, including Sniagrab at Sports Authority in Denver September 4-7. A seven-day pass is $374.
Copper Four Pack: $159 for four days of skiing at Copper, with no blackouts.
Keystone + Arapahoe Basin 4-Pack: $189 for four days combined at Keystone and A-Basin, with some blackout dates. The price increases September 7.
Eldora 4 Pass: $149 gets you four days at Eldora—a great option if you live in Boulder and want to call in sick a few times for powder days; plus, there are no blackouts. Pick one up online or at Christy Sports Powder Daze.
Epic 4-Day: $389 for four days combined at the Epic resorts, some of which are located in California. Take your pick from Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, and Arapahoe Basin—plus four additional days at Afton Alps or Mt. Brighton. There’s also an Epic 7-Day for $579. There are no blackouts, and prices increase September 7.
Loveland 4-Pak: $139 for four days at Loveland. Passes must be purchased online or via phone by November 22.
Winter Park Four Pass: $179 for four days at Winter Park, with no blackouts. The price usually jumps after Labor Day.
For even better deals, head to Christy Sports Powder Daze in Littleton until September 8, where you can pick up select four-packs with a bonus fifth day or a Steamboat three-pack for $149.
Passport Program for Fifth- and Sixth-Graders
If your kid isn’t already hooked on skiing or riding, the Colorado 5th Grade Passport Program should do the trick (and parents can have a blast tagging along). With this program, Colorado fifth-graders can get a passport good for three days of free skiing or riding at 20 Colorado resorts (that’s 60 days of free skiing in one season—better start doing lunges now). A sixth-grade passport costs $99 and includes four days of skiing at the same 20 resorts. If you don’t have kids yet, consider timing their births for a year apart for this killer deal.
For more beta, check out our Quick and Dirty Guide to Skiing and Snowboarding near Boulder.