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Comparing Multiple-Resort Season Passes

There was a time when buying any kind of season pass required a payment plan—and that pass would only get its owner onto the slopes at a single mountain. Now, however, we find ourselves in the golden age of ski passes. We're awash in ski resort bundles, associations, collectives, alliances and the like. Whatever one calls these passes, the advantage now clearly goes to the skier. Almost all of the top resorts in North America - Jackson Hole, Aspen, Snowbird, Alta, Whistler, Vail, Park City - can be had as some part of a larger pass. These super passes keep adding resorts and perks, making choosing one of these passes all the more difficult.

We want to help you choose.

So the crew at ZRankings did all the research for you. We calculated the total acreage, the overall ratings of each pass's resort portfolio, its price, the average resort snow quality and more. Then we crunched the numbers so that you can figure out which pass is the best investment for you, where you'll get the most bang for your buck and what you'll need to do to get each pass's highest value. So sit back, marvel at your options and buy quickly before the prices go up—and they're always going up.

Price
# of Mountains
Avg PAF
(West)
Top 5 Avg PAF
Avg Snow Score (West)
Top 5 Avg Snow Score
Avg True Snowfall (West)
Full Season Pass?
Free days @ each resort
Half days @ each resort
Epic Pass
$809
No. of Mountains
12
82.0
86.2
70.8
72.4
329.7
Yes
Unlimited
N/A
MAX Pass
$599
No. of Mountains
22
75.2
82.2
70.6
78.5
374.7
No
5
0
Powder Alliance
differs
No. of Mountains
13
65.9
75.9
59.0
67.3
315.6
No
3
0
Rocky Mountain Super Pass
$599
No. of Mountains
2
68.4
68.4
61.8
61.8
238.5
Yes
Unlimited
N/A
Mountain Collective
$409
No. of Mountains
15
82.7
92.2
68.9
78.1
303.8
No
2
Unlimited

Epic Pass

Breckenridge Ski Resort
Northstar at Tahoe
Park City Mountain Resort
Presented by Vail Resorts, the Epic Pass is among the pioneers in the business of bundling season passes. With the Epic Pass you'll get unlimited access to the twelve North American resorts of Vail Resorts: Beaver Creek, Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, A-Basin, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, and Wilmot. Internationally, Australia's Perisher resort is also Epic.

It's important to note that the comparative chart above focuses on the full Epic Pass, which is $809. There is another version of this pass, the Local's Epic Pass, which is $609 and comes with some blackout restrictions, which are detailed below.

With this pass, you've got the top tier resorts of Vail, Park City and Beaver Creek, along with the still very respectable Breckenridge, Kirkwood and A-Basin resorts. There's no doubt you're getting good powder with this pass and lots acreage in Park City, Vail, and Heavenly.

In total, the Epic Pass grants access to 31,650 acres of ski terrain. The average PAF of the resorts, excluding the three urban resorts, is a respectable 81.3 and the average true annual snowfall of those resorts is 320 inches.

The 2014 acquisition of Park City and the subsequent linking and merging of Canyons (now Canyons Village at Park City) and PCMR adds a strong punch to this pass. Not only is Park City ranked No. 10 overall and No. 1 in travel ease, but it's a massive 7,300 acres. That's the largest in the U.S. and second in North America only to B.C.'s Whistler.

With the recent addition of Wilmot Mountain in Southeast Wisconsin, Chicago is now Epic and Vail's tally of midwest urban resorts is up to three. Wilmot is an hour and a half from Chicago and less than an hour from Milwaukee, Afton Alps is less than an hour from Minneapolis and Mt. Brighton is less than an hour from Detroit. These hills might not be anything to write home about, but they can hold you over until you have a chance to get out West. Just as we saw extensive updates with Mt. Brighton upon acquisition, Wilmot will no doubt soon be getting a facelift. It's outdated lifts should be old news in the near future.

This year's early bird price is $809, up from last year. That price won't last; you'll see increases as early as April 10 and expect it to continue going up. These passes pay for themselves quickly, with daily lift tickets at Beaver Creek, Vail and Breckenridge at $150+.

If you want to spend less and can deal with restrictions and blackout dates, the Epic Local Pass is more affordable ($609). You'll get unlimited access to Breckenridge, Keystone, Wilmot, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, Arapahoe Basin and 10 days holiday-restricted access to Vail and Beaver Creek plus restricted access to Park City, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood.

If you're not going to ski more than 7 days, the Epic 7-Day is $609 with 7 days unrestricted access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, and A-Basin. And you'll get 7 free days at the three urban resorts. They offer the equivalent pass for four days at $399.

All passes include access to Epic Mix, Vail's official application that lets you track your vertical feet, view and compare lift line times, see snow conditions, share photos, share with Facebook and Twitter, and even race all from your phone.

  Resort
True
Snowfall*
Lift
Ticket
Days to
Payback
     Acreage PAF
Score
Stowe Mountain Resort
VT
303 in $92 8.8 485 acres 65.9 more
Keystone Resort
CO
232 in $125 6.5 3148 acres 78.7 more
Vail Ski Resort
CO
359 in $165 4.9 5289 acres 91.6 more
Park City Mountain Resort
UT
286 in $122 6.6 7300 acres 86.7 more
Beaver Creek Resort
CO
329 in $165 4.9 1815 acres 85.9 more
Whistler
BC
415 in $78 10.4 8171 acres 91.7 more
Breckenridge Ski Resort
CO
283 in $154 5.3 2358 acres 82.5 more
Kirkwood
CA
459 in $99 8.2 2300 acres 77.8 more
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
CO
315 in $76 10.6 900 acres 77.2 more
Heavenly
CA
312 in $125 6.5 4800 acres 74.8 more
Northstar at Tahoe
CA
307 in $130 6.2 3170 acres 73.1 more
Afton Alps
MN
55 in $56 14.4 300 acres 31.6 more

MAX Pass

Alyeska Resort
The Summit at Snoqualmie
Brighton Ski Resort
The Multi Alpine Experience Pass, brought to us by Intrawest, Boyne and Powdr resorts came on the market in 2015 and most closely resembles the Mountain Collective Pass. Rather than taking the Epic super pass approach, these three resort companies came together to form the MAX pass. With this pass you get five days at 25 different North American resorts, as listed in the table below (we list 22, as three of the resorts are beneath our 200-acre minimum for listing).

Overall, it's an impressive 125 days with access to 32,572 skiable acres for the early price of $599 that's available through May 2. But it would take some awfully creative accounting and vacation to work make that much use of the pass. In reality, this is the type of pass for someone who won't snub the East, as 12 of these resorts are East coast resorts.

In the West, Alyeska, Winter Park, Big Sky, Solitude, and Steamboat bring some premier powder to the pass with Copper, Brighton, Crystal and Mt. Bachelor not far behind in terms of overall quality. The average PAF of the passes' Western resorts is a respectable 77.5. As for snowfall, sticking to the Western resorts, you're getting an average of 377 inches of snowfall. Alyeska's 503 inches of average snowfall no doubt helps to raise that overall average. And there's more than just the quantity of snow that makes this pass appealing: Brighton, Solitude and Alyeska are all in the top ten in our Best Snow in North America Rankings. Winter Park is no. 11 in these rankings.

But with half of the pass' resorts located out East, let's not ignore those icy mountains. Rounding out the top ten in the Eastern rankings are Vermont's Killington, Maine's Sugarloaf and Sunday River, and Quebec's Mont Tremblant. The 1,056 acres of Sugarloaf are the most in the East and Killington's 4,241 ft vertical drop is nothing to sneeze at.

Perhaps the best feature is the ability to purchase the MAX add on for $299 after the purchase of a season pass to any of the above resorts. It gets more complicated with some season pass purchases at resorts providing more or less restricted access. If your qualifying pass includes blackout dates, the MAX pass does not grant you access to ski those dates. Instead it provides five days of skiing at every resort but the resort of which you have the qualifying pass. Therefore, with a purchase of a Winter Park season pass for $309 and the MAX pass add on, all restrictions on the Winter Park pass still apply for your access to Winter Park.

With the MAX pass, the five days do not need to be used concurrently. All additional lift tickets after the five allotted days are full price.

  Resort
True
Snowfall*
Lift
Ticket
Days to
Payback
     Acreage PAF
Score
Big Sky Resort
MT
282 in NA N/A 5809 acres 85.6 more
Winter Park Ski Resort
CO
349 in $144 4.2 3081 acres 85.1 more
Alyeska Resort
AK
500 in $75 8.0 1500 acres 84.8 more
Steamboat Ski Resort
CO
372 in $99 6.1 2965 acres 83.8 more
Copper Mountain
CO
280 in $78 7.7 2465 acres 77.5 more
Brighton Ski Resort
UT
430 in NA N/A 1050 acres 76.4 more
Crystal Mountain Resort
WA
409 in NA N/A 2600 acres 76.3 more
Mt. Bachelor
OR
380 in NA N/A 3683 acres 72.5 more
The Summit at Snoqualmie
WA
386 in NA N/A 1981 acres 67.9 more
Cypress Mountain
BC
350 in NA N/A 1482 acres 62.0 more
Killington
VT
240 in NA N/A 752 acres 61.2 more
Boreal Mountain Resort
CA
384 in NA N/A 480 acres 55.2 more
Sugarloaf
ME
172 in NA N/A 1056 acres 55.0 more
Sunday River Ski Resort
ME
150 in NA N/A 743 acres 53.5 more
Mont Tremblant
QC
156 in NA N/A 654 acres 54.8 more
Pico Mountain
VT
250 in NA N/A 265 acres 50.1 more
Blue Mountain
ON
110 in NA N/A 251 acres 48.8 more
Stratton Mountain
VT
188 in NA N/A 600 acres 47.2 more
Loon Mountain
NH
168 in NA N/A 370 acres 45.1 more
Boyne Highlands
MI
140 in NA N/A 435 acres 40.7 more
Snowshoe Mountain
WV
157 in NA N/A 235 acres 40.2 more
Boyne Mountain
MI
140 in NA N/A 415 acres 35.0 more

Powder Alliance

Mt Hood Meadows
Angel Fire Resort
Stevens Pass Resort
The Powder Alliance works differently than the other passes mentioned here. It's basically an add-on that's thrown in for any purchaser of a season pass at any one of the 14 participating resorts. For instance, if a skier buys a season pass to Arizona Snowbowl for the full price of $649, it includes the benefits of the Powder Alliance.

And those benefits are simple: three free lift tickets to every participating Alliance resort. If an enterprising skier were to take full advantage of the Alliance, they'd rack up 39 free lift tickets. This person would likely be unemployed, however, so these free lift tickets would at least be flowing the right end of the income tax bracket (the bottom).

The Powder Alliance offers local skiers of its resorts a fantastic way to expand their ski horizons while incurring minimal costs above travel. ZRankings has several correspondents in the southwest who take advantage of the deal. The Alliance now includes Whitewater, near Nelson, B.C.—one of the better places to chase powder in North America, with a true average of 392 inches of snow annually.

The Powder Alliance gives this group of medium-sized resorts a way to ensure that locals don't get poached by the temptations offered by some of the alpha resorts' bundled passes, listed above. The skiing in this group includes standouts Crested Butte, Bridger Bowl, Snowbasin, Whitewater and Stevens Pass. It's a solid lineup. To claim free lift tickets at participating resorts, all skiers have to do is present their season pass plus a photo ID.
  Resort
True
Snowfall*
Lift
Ticket
Summit
Elevation
     Acreage PAF
Score
Whitewater
BC
390 in NA 6567 ft 1184 acres 80.9 more
Stevens Pass Resort
WA
475 in NA 5845 ft 1125 acres 76.7 more
Timberline Lodge
OR
450 in NA 8540 ft 1415 acres 75.7 more
Snowbasin Ski Resort
UT
312 in NA 9250 ft 2820 acres 74.7 more
Mt Hood Meadows
OR
450 in NA 7300 ft 2150 acres 74.1 more
Bridger Bowl Ski Area
MT
301 in NA 8800 ft 2000 acres 73.2 more
Sierra-at-Tahoe
CA
389 in NA 8852 ft 2000 acres 66.6 more
Schweitzer Mountain Resort
ID
278 in NA 6400 ft 2900 acres 67.3 more
Silver Star Mountain Resort
BC
223 in NA 6280 ft 3065 acres 61.9 more
Arizona Snowbowl
AZ
203 in $69 11500 ft 777 acres 56.0 more
Angel Fire Resort
NM
210 in NA 10677 ft 445 acres 52.5 more
China Peak
CA
300 in NA 8709 ft 430 acres 51.6 more
Mountain High Resort
CA
122 in NA 8200 ft 290 acres 44.8 more
Crested Butte Ski Resort
CO
252 in $108 11875 ft 1547 acres 77.3 more

Rocky Mountain Super Pass

Eldora Mountain Resort
Eldora Mountain Resort
Crested Butte Ski Resort
  Resort
True
Snowfall*
Lift
Ticket
Days to
Payback
     Acreage PAF
Score
Crested Butte Ski Resort
CO
252 in $108 5.5 1547 acres 77.3 more
Eldora Mountain Resort
CO
225 in NA N/A 680 acres 59.4 more
Winter Park Ski Resort
CO
349 in $144 4.2 3081 acres 85.1 more
Copper Mountain
CO
280 in $78 7.7 2465 acres 77.5 more
Steamboat Ski Resort
CO
372 in $99 6.1 2965 acres 83.8 more
Alyeska Resort
AK
500 in $75 8.0 1500 acres 84.8 more

Mountain Collective

Aspen Buttermilk
Sunshine Village
Aspen Buttermilk
Founded in 2012, the Mountain Collective Pass was the first competitor to Vail's Epic Pass. A group of elite ski resorts came together to form the Collective as a way to combat the sheer awesomeness of the Epic Pass. Rather than offering unlimited skiing at each resort, the Collective created something different entirely.

Here's how it works: with the purchase of the pass, skiers are granted access to two free days at each ski destination. There are 10 North American destinations that include 17 mountains, which are listed below in a table.

Certain mountains are grouped together into destinations. Alta and Snowbird are one destination; the four Aspen mountains are one destination; Mt. Norquay, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village are one destination; and Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are one destination. Sun Valley, Jackson Hole, Stowe, Taos Whistler and Mammoth are single resort destinations.

The number of resorts in the Collective keeps growing, with Sun Valley as this year's newest addition. Also as of this year, New Zealand's Coronet Peak/The Remarkables is a full Mountain Collective partner, joining the other international destination, Thredbo of Australia.

With the MCP, you're getting access to the top four ranked resorts in North America: Jackson Hole, Snowbird, Whistler and Alta. So while it might not be unlimited access, the MCP brings plenty of elite powder and terrain. You're also getting 41,757 acres of skiable North American terrain and an average PAF (Western resorts only) of 82.9. The average true snowfall at Collective resorts is 312 inches. And you can't beat the quality of the snow. Alta has a perfect total snow score; Snowbird isn't far behind with a score of 95.1.

It's a total of 20 days of skiing with the MCP for $379. Supply is limited at this price, so expect prices to go up throughout the year as the 2016-17 ski season draws nearer. Get it right now and you'll get a kids pass for only $1. You'll also get an additional day at the resort of your choice.

Perhaps the best part of the deal is the deal you get for additional lift tickets after your two days at each destination. These tickets are discounted 50% at the ticket counter as long as supplies last. Not only does mean you're not limited to just two days at each destination but it means that the MCP can be used as a local pass.

Here's the math: If Jackson is your local mountain, you'll use your two days early in the season and each additional day will be just $65, rather than the full priced $130. With a season pass to Jackson priced at $1760, you would need to ski 23 days before you'd lose money on the MCP. By the time you've skied four days at Jackson using the MCP you've already saved money in comparison to buying daily lift tickets.

One thing you're not getting with the MCP is access to Colorado. You've got the four Aspen mountains but that's it. Unless you swear by Aspen, if you're Colorado located this might not be the best pass for you. In comparison, the Epic Pass includes Beaver Creek, Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and A-Basin.

With an Eastern resort, Stowe Mountain, in the Collective, the MCP hopes to set itself apart from the Epic Pass, which only goes as East as the Detroit area. Season passes at Stowe cost the exorbitant amount of $2,224. Therefore, if you plan on taking one winter trip West, you're better off with the MCP. Even without that trip, you'd need to ski 40 days before you'd lose money on the MC. The Collective features no urban resorts like the Epic Pass does.

  Resort
True
Snowfall*
Lift
Ticket
Days to
Payback
     Acreage PAF
Score
Jackson Hole
WY
366 in $130 4.3 2500 acres 99.0 more
Snowbird
UT
448 in $98 6.3 2500 acres 96.8 more
Alta Ski Area
UT
519 in $89 7.2 2200 acres 92.1 more
Aspen Snowmass
CO
296 in $149 3.5 3132 acres 90.0 more
Telluride Ski Resort
CO
277 in NA N/A 2000 acres 91.9 more
Squaw Valley
CA
363 in $139 3.9 3600 acres 83.8 more
Aspen Mountain - Ajax
CO
253 in $149 3.5 675 acres 83.1 more
Aspen Highlands
CO
251 in $149 3.5 1028 acres 82.7 more
Taos Ski Resort
NM
259 in $86 7.5 1294 acres 81.9 more
Mammoth
CA
350 in $125 4.5 3500 acres 79.9 more
Alpine Meadows
CA
360 in $139 3.9 2400 acres 74.5 more
Sunshine Village
AB
256 in $70 9.7 3358 acres 73.9 more
Sun Valley Ski Resort
ID
191 in $115 5.1 2054 acres 72.4 more
Aspen Buttermilk
CO
200 in $149 3.5 470 acres 67.6 more
Lake Louise Ski Area
AB
168 in $68 10.0 4200 acres 70.5 more