Just as frequent fliers don't buy tickets at the airport on their way to the gate, savvy destination skiers don't buy their day and week passes when they arrive at a resort. Planning ahead is a crucial part of keeping the cost of skiing reasonable, but thanks to a new breed of passes that provide access to multiple mountains, it doesn't have to mean being locked into skiing the same runs day after day. Inter-mountain passes allow skiers to vary from the plan.
These programs' value is not limited to reduced costs and increased choices. The best passes allow skiers to be flexible about timing as well. The Mountain Collective pass, for instance, allows skiers to watch the weather and make scheduling and geographic choices based on the latest snowfall. Because they have no blackout dates, these passes allow holders to react to conditions rather than putting up with them.
Here are the best passes out there for serious and savvy skiers alike.
Best for sampling: Powder Alliance
The Deal A full-season pass at any one of the following resorts, plus three-day passes at each sister resort: Snowbasin in Utah; Crested Butte in Colorado; Ski Bowl and Timberline in Oregon; Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho; China Peak, Mountain High, and Sierra at Tahoe in California; Stevens Pass in Washington; Snowbowl in Arizona; Angel Fire Resort in New Mexico; and Bridger Bowl in Montana.
Pros It gives skiers the chance to check out smaller mountains and enjoy some of the "biggies."
Cons Saturday and holiday blackout days are pretty restrictive
Best for pass holders at any one of the resorts. The range of offerings is the obvious selling point here, so the pass is ideal for someone who has a home base but wants to try something new. Snow Basin, Crested Butte, and Bridger Bowl are all worth a bit of travel time. [Price varies by resort; powderalliance.com]
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