After a grimly dry and tragic beginning to winter in the Wasatch, the skiing and riding conditions have quietly been excellent since the calendar to flipped to February. Thanks to some record-setting snowfall around Valentine’s Day and a steady cavalcade of storms in the weeks that followed, the snowpack resembles Utah’s typical bounty and will provide at least a few weeks of prime conditions this spring. But the ski industry—waiting for precisely nobody—is already looking ahead and selling season passes for the 2021/22 winter. Multi-resort passes continue to dominate the landscape with more options aimed at increased flexibility, as long as customers are willing commit months in advance. In a surprise move, it’s Vail Resorts firing the opening salvo in the 2021/22 Pass Wars, announcing a 20% reduction in Epic Pass prices across the board.
Though it feels absurd to think about next season while snow is still falling during this one, perhaps skiers and snowboarders throughout Utah need something to hope for. The recently departed winter has been a dichotomous affair. People flocked to the hills as a COVID-safe escape from the doldrums of pandemic life, but common-sense restrictions at resorts led to operations difficulties across the state. Cottonwood Canyon traffic, already a pernicious problem, became untenable as carpooling morphed into a terrifying prospect. Socially-distanced chairlift rides created enormous lift lines at base areas in places like Park City Mountain even if the upper mountain was deserted. Parking was a nightmare. Lodges were off limits. Yes, the powder was still powdery and the turns cathartic as always, but I suppose we could turn the page on this past winter without dissent.
So, what’s on tap for 2021/22? For better or worse, ski pass consolidation has become the norm. The big two are still the Epic (Park City Mountain and about a million out-of-state resorts) and Ikon (Solitude, with some days at Deer Valley, Alta/Snowbird and a host of non-Utah hills) Passes, with the Mountain Collective offering two days at many resorts both in state (Alta/Snowbird) and out. The big news is the aforementioned 20% price reduction on Epic Passes. A full, no blackout date Epic Pass is now $783 (down from $979), and an Epic Local Pass, which cuts out some peak season holiday dates, is now $583 (down from $729). The Epic Day Pass lets people ski up to seven individual days for as little as $67 per day, which is no small thing now that day pass prices regularly cross the aneurysm-inducing $200 threshold. Vail Resorts is also getting rid of their maddening reservation system and recently extended the season at Park City Mountain through April 11, signaling they’d like to make amends after a difficult season.
Ikon Pass prices are holding steady from last season—$999 for a full Ikon, $729 for an Ikon Base, both with discounts for renewals—as are Mountain Collective prices at $499. Yes, ski pass consolidation tends to increase crowds and has had an undeniable numbing effect on the once eccentric culture at some ski resorts, but it’s also made skiing more affordable—if one doesn’t venture into the lodge for a $30 burger. The caveat is people need to buy early to lock in the best price.
The ski pass war of 2021/22 is just getting started. More announcements are sure to trickle out in the coming weeks, and we’ll be there to help readers decide which pass is the best fit.
Read more outdoor coverage here.