Summer is the time to get out hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking under the warm sun, and then fire up the grill for a barbeque after the day’s adventures. But if you’re an avid skier, winter isn’t far from your mind. Close your eyes in the summer sun and imagine the steep slopes and epic powder at Alta Ski Area in the mountains above Salt Lake City. Yeah, that’s the ticket to big snow adventures. Speaking of tickets, summer is the best time to buy winter’s hottest passes to the "greatest snow on earth."
Skiers speak about Alta with awed reverence and a glazed look. The 2,200-acre ski area is a must-visit resort that boasts an average snowfall of 551 inches of dry, champagne powder—the best snow on the planet. It offers thousands of feet of challenging runs for experts only, but surprisingly half of its 116 trails are on intermediate and beginner terrain. Alta, a quick drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon from Salt Lake City, never seems crowded, despite being one of America’s most accessible ski resorts.
While many skiers begin thinking about annual passes in October, a month before opening day, the best deals for an Alta ski pass are in summer. You’ll find the lowest prices for both individual and family season passes at the Alta website, with plenty of options to shop and compare. You’ll get the best deals during the Summer Sale, and can anticipate a price change just after Labor Day.
Qualifying passes come with the Wasatch Benefit as well as reciprocity skiing at a number of other ski areas. The Wasatch Benefit includes two free days at Snowbird, Deer Valley Resort, and Solitude Mountain Resort. The Mountain Collective destinations, which include Aspen Snowmass, Banff Sunshine, Coronet Peak|The Remarkables, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Lake Louise Ski Resort, Mammoth Mountain, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Snowbasin Resort, Snowbird, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Sugarbush Resort, Sun Valley, Taos Ski Valley, Telluride Ski Resort, and Thredbo Alpine Village offer unlimited 50 percent off to qualified passholders. Other reciprocity offers for 50 percent off are available at Bridger Bowl Ski Area, Brundage Mountain, Homewood Mountain Resort, Red Lodge Mountain, and Wachusett Mountain Ski Area.
The season passes also come with the UTA Benefit so you can ride free from Salt Lake City on all UTA Ski Bus and Trax routes for the entire ski season. This great perk lets you avoid driving up the canyon and then finding a parking spot.
An adult unlimited season pass with no blackout dates is $999 during the Summer Sale, with a price increase to $1,199 just after Labor Day. The family package with unlimited skiing for a family of four is $1,999 during the Summer Sale. It includes two adult passes and two child passes for kids 7-17 and free passes for children 6 & under. Extra children can be added for $99 each.
There are plenty of other adult season pass options. These include a young adult pass for ages 18 to 25, a senior pass for oldsters 65 to 79, and a military pass, all for $649 during the Summer Sale. A medical resident pass and an adult mid-week pass, valid Monday through Friday to avoid the weekend crowds, cost $799 each, while a pass for senior skiers older than 80 years is priced at a flat $50.
Great pass deals are available for children and teens. A six-and-under pass is $25 during the Summer Sale—or $50 with Wasatch Benefit. The 7-to-12-year-old pass is $159 or $184 with Wasatch Benefit. A 13-to 17 year old pass is $199 or $224 with Wasatch Benefit.
Alta Ski Area has also teamed up with nearby Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort since 2001 to offer the AltaSnowbird Season Pass, allowing you to ski both resorts at basement prices. Pricing starts at $2,799 for a family package and $1,399 for an adult unlimited pass.
If you don’t have time to ski every day with the unlimited pass or you like to ski on the spur of the moment, then take a look at Alta’s Pay-As-You-Go Card. The program, tied to your credit or debit card, lets you skip the ticket office and ski when you want for 50 percent off the regular window rate. Just show up with skis and poles and hit the slopes. Your card will be charged in the evening after your snow day. If you buy during the Summer Sale, the Gold Card is $159, with pricing going up Labor Day week. The $25 Adult and Child Sunnyside @ 3 Cards let you ski Alta whenever you want without stopping at the ticket office. You’re billed at 20 percent off the window rate for any ticket type, plus you can ski free after three in the afternoon at Sunnyside.
You can also buy prepaid cards. The Alta Powder Card, costing $700, offers ten ski days. It’s transferable between skiers, but can be used only once per day. You can also reload it with ten more ski days at the preseason rate. The Powder Card goes off sale November 1. The Ten Day Card, costing $559, is ideal for visitors or occasional skiers. The transferable card, offering ten days of Alta skiing, can also be reloaded for an extra ten days.
Are you unsure about which Alta season pass is best for you? To find out your best pass options, log onto Alta.com and select a couple passes for a side-by-side comparison of each ticket’s benefits, restrictions, and price to make sure you find the perfect powder dream pass for you and your family.
Originally written for Alta.