The (Updated) Ultimate Guide to Multi-Mountain Passes, 2019-2020 Season
In a changing industry riddled with mergers, new companies, and shifting alliances, deciding which pass to buy is harder than ever. We've broken down the details of each pass to make it easier for East Coast skiers and riders to choose.
In the race to provide variety, ski areas have teamed up to provide a host of multi-mountain pass options.
Ikon or Epic? Maybe the Mountain Collective better fits your schedule? What happens with the Peak Pass now that Vail bought the Northeastern chain? Should you buy The New York Ski3 or the New England Pass? And what’s this about the brand-new Indy Pass? Nothing is as hotly debated on lifts and online as which multi-mountain pass to buy, and we’re here to help you cut through the hype.
It’s hard to overstate how revolutionary they’ve been to the ski pass market, but it’s been less than a decade since the multi-mountain pass has completely transformed how skiers and riders spend their money and time each winter. For many of us, they’ve become a practical alternative to the comparably expensive and geographically-limiting single-resort season pass. Instead, we have more resort options at a more affordable price.
With so much recent change, it’s hard for consumers to keep track of which pass will provide the most bang for our ski buck, so we took an in-depth look at each option, and we’ve updated last year’s guide with this year’s most recent developments and broken down the pros and cons of each to help you make your decision: If you’re new to the multi-mountain pass game, or you’re looking to add some variety to your normal local season pass habits, this guide will prove indispensable.
A brief disclaimer, though: Any of the following can change by the time you read this, as the market is constantly in flux. For comparison’s sake, all pricing details refer to the base adult price. Senior, child, and college pricing is available for most of the passes below – just follow the links for more detailed information on pricing tiers.
EPIC PASS Price: $749 for the Local Pass (With Restrictions) $999 Full Pass
Eastern Resorts: Okemo, Stowe, Mont-Sainte Anne, Stoneham, Sunapee New this year: Wildcat, Attitash, Crotched, Mount Snow, Hunter, and 12 other resorts in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.
The Epic Pass gets you into a number of Northeast favorites, including Okemo, with its iconic orange bubble chairs. Photo: John Giuffo
This one is the grandfather of them all—Vail was responsible for creating the multi-mountain pass in 2008 when they first released the Epic Pass, granting unlimited access to several resorts across Colorado and elsewhere out west. As Vail has grown, so has the pass, with additions in Colorado, California, Utah, Canada, and overseas. In 2017, Vail introduced the Epic Pass to the east coast with their acquisition of Stowe. They further increased their foothold in the east the following year with the addition of Okemo, Sunapee, Mont-Sainte Anne and Stoneham. And the buying spree has continued this year, when Vail Resorts announced that it had acquired Peak Resorts, which had built up an impressive collection of East Coast ski areas, including Wildcat, Attitash, Mount Snow, and Hunter, among others. With the addition of 17 mountains all along the East Coast, the Epic Pass has become a true force to be reckoned with in every ski market in North America. Those who already purchased a Peak Pass will find they will still be accepted at all 17 former Peak resorts, though they do have the option of upgrading their existing pass to the full Epic Pass.
The purchase made national business news, and as a result the Epic Pass can finally boast a broad and well-curated selection of eastern resorts. Last year’s version was thin on Northeast options as compared to the rival Ikon Pass, and it’s clear that this year’s acquisition was an answer to that concern.
Stowe, one of the best all-around resorts east of the Rocky Mountains, is a highlight on the Epic Pass, and has some of the rowdiest skiing and riding this side of the Continental Divide, along with top-notch lodging, dining, and entertainment options, all nestled within one of the Northeast’s most sprawling ski towns, located less than an hour from Burlington.
For those journeying from further south or east, Vail last year added Okemo and Sunapee to the mix. Okemo is an excellent southern Vermont option for beginners and intermediates, with an endless supply of blue and green trails with beautiful easterly vistas. Sunapee has similar terrain and is a nice additional option for those looking more for a locals’ mountain than a destination resort.
Also in southern Vermont, Epic now gives you access to Mount Snow; the eastern Mecca for park rats seeking X-games style jumps and features within driving distance. In addition to the renowned parks in the Corinthia section, Mount Snow also features great tree skiing, a bevy of fast lifts, and newly improved snowmaking that allows them to now be among the first resorts in the east to open each season.
In New Hampshire, Vail has added three former Peak Resorts that span the White Mountains—all within a three-hour drive from Boston. Wildcat, located just across the road from famed Mount Washington, offers over 2,100 vertical feet of winding, rugged, distinctly-northeastern slopes and plentiful glade skiing accessed by a lightning-fast detachable quad. Just 20 minutes to the south, Attitash offers 1,750 vertical on two peaks covering over 300 acres and accessed by 10 lifts. Like Wildcat, Attitash is also known for its old-school New England-style trails and excellent glade skiing, although the terrain is a bit better suited for all skill levels. To the south, and just 90 minutes from Boston, Crotched Mountain offers 1,000 vertical feet of skiing spread over 100 acres and accessed by a high-speed quad. It’s a popular local’s mountain known for night skiing that lasts until 3am on mid-winter weekends.
In New York, you now get access to Hunter Mountain, just two and a half hours north of New York City and an hour from New York’s capital region, which last year added “Hunter North,” the largest expansion to any eastern resort in decades, as well as a new high-speed six-pack chair.
Pennsylvania skiers also get some love from Epic this year, with the addition of Jack Frost and Big Boulder in the Poconos. Under two hours from both New York and Philadelphia and just a few miles from each other, these resorts are a great option for weekend trips to the Poconos, but they better suited for beginners, families, and park skiers, than they are for advanced skiers seeking out more challenging terrain and sustained vertical.
For those willing to make the journey far north to the land of politeness and poutine, the Epic Pass also includes Stoneham and Mont Sainte Anne. With a respectable 1151 feet of vertical and 16 trails of night skiing, Stoneham is a popular spot for locals and just 20 minutes north of Quebec City. Monte Sainte Anne is also very close to the city (just 30 minutes east) and boasts over 2000 vertical, excellent variety of trails for all levels (including experts), and incredible views of the Saint Lawrence River to the south. Like nearly every other mountain in Quebec, Mont Sainte Anne also offers nighttime skiing – though here it’s served by their gondola, which is fortunate because it is often inhumanely cold there on a winter evening, up on the mountains facing the winds whipping up from the icy valley floor below.
Epic also gets you into Whistler-Blackcomb, the largest ski resort in North America. Photo: John Giuffo
Points West and Overseas: Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, Telluride, Crested Butte, and Beaver Creek in Colorado. Brighton and Park City in Utah. Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Northstar in Tahoe. Stevens Pass in Washington. Whistler-Blackcomb, Kicking Horse, Kimberley, Fernie, Nakiska, Mont-Sainte Anne, and Stoneham in Canada. Hakuba Valley in Japan and 30 resorts across the Alps. New This Year: Sun Valley, Idaho; Snowbasin, Utah; Rusutsu, Japan.
Vail’s best attribute is their massive collection of western and overseas ski areas that give northeastern Epic Pass buyers nearly endless options for that annual trip many of us make for the guaranteed goods.
New this year are the additions of Sun Valley, Idaho’s most famous ski area and a destination resort in its own right, as well as Snowbasin, a fantastic option with great, wide-open rippable groomers outside of Salt Lake City, as well as the powdery quarters of Rusutsu, Japan, for those looking to get their powder turns in the Land of the Rising Sun and Endless Powder.
As it befitting its origins, Vail’s Colorado options are its crown jewels. A quick trip west on I-70 from Denver brings you right to the front door of Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek and, of course, Vail. They recently added expert favorites Crested Butte and Telluride to the mix, giving them the indisputable claim of best selection of Colorado resorts. You can’t go wrong with a trip to any combination of these resorts, but watch out for that infamous I-70 traffic.
For those more inclined to ski Tahoe, you can fly into Reno and visit Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar. Heavenly is known for great tree skiing and postcard views of Lake Tahoe. Kirkwood is revered among experts as one of the best spots for gnarly terrain. Northstar is known as a destination for families and parks, with milder steepness than the other Tahoe resorts, but boasts an orientation that allows it to stay open on storm days that would otherwise close the other, more exposed Tahoe resorts.
Park City Mountain Resort is another high-end option on the Epic Pass. While it may be Vail’s only resort in Utah, it has trails for every level and style of skier and rider, top-notch amenities, and consistently great snow. The town of Park City, famously home to the Sundance Film Festival, is among the best ski towns in the world with great restaurants, bars, shops, art galleries and, most importantly, a ski-in/ski-out distillery.
Adding to the pass’ already-formidable charms, Epic last year announced a new partnership with Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, as well as a recent purchase of Whistler-Blackcomb, the Epic Pass now includes access to several amazing resorts across British Columbia. Just two hours north of Vancouver, Whistler is widely heralded as the best resort in North America (and it is undeniably the largest). In the east of the province, Revelstoke and Fernie both offer incredible skiing and are each destination resorts in their own right, while Kimberley is a charming and deceptively large family-style ski area, with the longest nighttime vertical in the West. All are located within just three hours of Calgary.
The Epic Pass also offers access to several quality resorts overseas in Australia (summer skiing anyone?), the Alps, and Japan, so it’s a great option for those whose travels take them abroad.
Who Should Buy This Pass:
Skiers and riders willing to travel frequently by air
New Englanders, particularly those living in northern Vermont (looking at you, Burlington)
People who love skiing in Colorado and/or British Columbia
Former season passholders at Stowe, Okemo, Mount Snow, Wildcat, Attitash, and Sunapee
IKON PASS Price: $799 for Base Pass, $1,099 for Full Pass
Eastern Resorts: Unlimited access to Stratton, Mont Tremblant, and Snowshoe. Limited access (5 or 7 days each, depending on pass level) to Killington, Sugarbush, Loon, Sunday River, and Sugarloaf.
The Ikon Pass gets you unlimited access to Stratton, a reliable favorite in southern Vermont.. Photo: Alterra .
The national season pass market was shaken up last year by the Denver-based Alterra, the then-new company formed by Aspen and investment firm KSL Capital, when they announced they would offer the Ikon Pass – an updated and supercharged version of the previous seasons’ MAX Pass. Formed in direct answer to Vail Resorts and its rapidly-expanding portfolio of Alterra-owned and partner resorts, Ikon seeks to provide an alternative to the other big player in the multi-mountain pass market by positioning itself as a more independent-friendly (yet still behemoth-y) pass option. While it offers access to most of the resorts formerly under the MAX Pass umbrella, it’s also expanded access to additional resorts that have been recently acquired or subsumed by Alterra.
Designed to be a direct competitor to Vail’s Epic Pass, the Ikon Pass gives you access to a massive array of 41 resorts across the eastern and western U.S., as well as abroad. New this year are additional partnerships with the legendary Alpine playland of Zermatt, Switzerland, the less-legendary but antipodal Mt. Buller in Australia, and, closer to home, the locals’ favorite of Arapahoe Basin, in Colorado.
In Vermont, Ikon offers a trio of excellent destinations, each with their own unique identity. Stratton, in southern Vermont, is an excellent mountain for beginners, intermediates, and families, and the resort village makes it a perfect choice for families with children as every activity, meal, and service is available without having to drive anywhere. Killington, in central Vermont, is a beast among east coast resorts, with over 1500 acres of skiing covering over 3,000 vertical feet. There are trails for every level of skier and rider here, and the access road is littered with restaurants, bars and shops. Sugarbush rounds out the selection of Vermont destinations with a much more traditional, “old school” ski experience, albeit with a modern, luxury resort at its main base. There are trails here for every type of skier and rider, but Sugarbush is most well-known for its rugged, winding mogul runs, and plentiful, at times super-tight glades.
Boyne Resorts’ famed New England trio—Sunday River, Sugarloaf, and Loon—remain a staple of the pass. Sunday River is an enormous resort with 870 acres of every type of trail and glade imaginable spread across eight peaks. Sugarloaf is an even bigger resort, spanning over 1200 acres with some of the steepest trails in the region, and it is the only resort to offer cat skiing east of the Rockies. Loon is a great family destination, just two hours north of Boston, with a wide variety of primarily intermediate trails and stunning views of the White Mountains.
In eastern Canada, the Ikon Pass offers access to Tremblant in Quebec and Blue Mountain in Ontario. Tremblant, located ninety minutes northwest of Montreal, is a destination resort complete with a replica alpine village lined with shops, restaurants, activities, and countless lodging options. It’s perennially recognized as one of the top overall resorts in the east as it offers a great experience for just about everyone, no matter skill level. Blue Mountain is Ontario’s largest resort, with 365 acres of skiing just two hours northwest of Toronto.
The Ikon also gets you a few days at Snowbird, Utah's most badass high-altitude sendscape. Photo: Hilary Vidair
Points West and Overseas: Unlimited access to Steamboat, Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Eldora in Colorado. Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, and Mammoth Mountain near Tahoe. Crystal Mountain outside Seattle, Solitude in Utah, as well as June Mountain and Big Bear in Southern California. Limited access (5 or 7 days) to Snoqualmie, Taos, Deer Valley, Brighton, Alta, Snowbird, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, and Aspen Snowmass, as well Canadian destinations such as Revelstoke, Cypress, and the so-called Big 3 outside of Banff – Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, and Norquay. NEW THIS YEAR: Arapahoe Basin, Colorado, Zermatt, Switzerland, and Mt. Buller, Australia.
Ikon offers a massive array of Western and overseas resorts that would be nearly impossible to visit in a single season. With options available in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, California, Washington and even New Mexico as well as in Canada and overseas in the Alps, Australia, and Japan, the options are almost limitless.
In Colorado the Ikon Pass includes eight resorts, half of which are located surrounding the town of Aspen. A trip to Aspen offers access to Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk, combining to over 5,500 acres of skiing in one of the world’s most iconic mountain destinations. There is terrain here for everyone, and the lodging and dining options are world-class. Those who prefer a more low-key vibe could instead visit a combination of Copper, Winter Park, and Steamboat. All three are excellent destination resorts with terrain suited to every level of skier and rider, and Steamboat Springs is among the region’s best winter towns with its quaint western feel and, of course, hot springs.
Arapahoe Basin, this year’s newest Colorado addition, is a favorite among Front Range diehards who like their terrain gnarly, their amenities non-existent, and their viewpoints from the tailgate lot high-def. A-Basin has one of the longest ski seasons in North America, is a must-visit for those seeking out rowdy in-bounds terrain, and has one of the most down-to-earth vibes of any ski area anywhere. It was added to Ikon this season after a much publicized “divorce” from its partnership with Vail, in what can only be described as a clash of cultures between the owners as well as the customer base. In truth, A-Bay had been a bit of an awkward fit in the Vail Resorts portfolio of high-end resort partnerships. With a complete lack of on-mountain lodging options, a smaller (yet-gnarlier-per-acre) footprint, and a more independent-minded skier culture that fosters a vibrant parking lot-tailgate-mountain beach vibe, Arapahoe Basin always felt like an also-ran option for the sorts of Epic customers for whom Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone were the main draw. Where Vail caters to a more high-end-amenities-focused customer base, Alterra has cultivated partnerships with more independent-minded resorts.
In California, you get access to Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows near Lake Tahoe, and Mammoth Mountain roughly four hours to the south. All are large, world-renowned resorts with terrain suitable for any level, so you could have a great trip visiting either area or combining all three for a tour of the Sierra Nevada range.
In Utah, you get access to three valleys: Cottonwood Canyon, where Solitude and Brighton offer great terrain with minimal crowds, and Brighton’s night skiing is unparalleled in the region. In neighboring Little Cottonwood Canyon, Alta and Snowbird offer the best expert terrain in Utah, although snowboarders are limited to just Snowbird. And Deer Valley in Park City is known for its perfectly groomed slopes and five-star accommodations.
In the northern Rockies, passholders have access to Jackson Hole and Big Sky—both enormous, world-famous resorts with terrain straight out of your favorite ski porn film.
In western Canada, passholders can fly to Calgary and travel just 90 minutes west to find incredibly scenic slopes at Norquay and Banff’s Sunshine Village and Lake Louise Resorts.
A few more hours to the west lies Revelstoke; home to incredible tree skiing and unimaginably long runs that cover up to 6000 vertical feet. At the other end of British Columbia, Cypress Mountain offers consistent powder just 30 minutes outside of Vancouver. Serious powder hounds will appreciate early booking access with CMH Heli-skiing, allowing passholders to book the most sought-after dates to ensure optimal conditions.
In addition to the above locations, the Ikon Pass also includes Taos in New Mexico, the legendary Zermatt in Switzerland, Thredbo and Mt. Buller in Australia, and four resorts at Niseko in Japan, should the urge hit to hunt for some legendary Japow.
Who Should Buy This Pass:
New Yorkers and New Englanders willing to drive for their kicks
Those planning a trip to almost any major western ski region
While the Epic and Ikon passes offer the broadest array of options for East Coast skiers and riders, there are a few multi-mountain passes that are best suited to those those who plan to split their ski time among a smaller number of resorts. A couple are more suited to skiers and riders who are okay with choosing among just a few mountains, and a couple are a better fit for those looking to add more options to an existing pass, whether season or multi, and don’t mind traveling to make the most out of their pass(es).
NEW THIS YEAR: THE INDY PASS Price: $199
Eastern Destinations: Bolton Valley, Magic Mountain, and Suicide Six in Vermont, Greek Peak in New York, Catamount and Berkshire East in Massachusetts, Pat’s Peak in New Hampshire, and Mohawk Mountain in Connecticut, as well as locations in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee.
Midwestern and Western Destinations: Dozens of smaller mountains and locals’ favorites, including Mt. Shasta in Northern California, White Pass, Washington, Silver Mountain, Idaho, and Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort in Michigan. The introduction of both the Epic and Ikon passes have undoubtedly been boons to a large segment of the ski pass customer base, but they’ve been less kind to those ski areas who are not included under the Vail or Alterra umbrellas. These 44 mountains – a group of deeply beloved, generally smaller, more independent-minded locations – have felt a huge pinch from this bifurcating market, and the Indy Pass was created as a direct answer to the conglomeration of the ski industry. The little guys needed to do something in the face of a rapidly-shifting marketplace, and this team-up is their attempt to provide an alternative to the battle of the behemoths being waged among the larger resorts.
While there is a large collection of ski areas on this pass, you only get two days at each partner resort, and they are very geographically dispersed, making the Indy Pass a great option for those looking for low-key destinations to visit a few times a year. It’s also a good option for those looking to add two or three smaller locations to their annual repertoire at a really affordable rate.
At just a couple hundred bucks, this pass pays for itself after only two weekends’ worth of skiing, so it’s a no-brainer for those who enjoy smaller, less-crowded ski areas, or for those travelers who want to add a few smaller options to an existing Epic or Ikon membership.
For us Northeasterners who love the old-school vibe of diehard locals’ favorites, it includes Magic Mountain, a rowdy and exciting southern Vermont playground that has nevertheless earned a national reputation for its under-recognized badass bonafides, as well as days at Bolton Valley, a family-friendly option in the upper half of Vermont that boasts terrain that tends to be more protected from high winds than other Green Mountain locations, as well as a couple of days at Suicide Six, a tiny but historic ski area in central Vermont that lays claim to the first lift-serviced trails in North America.
The Indy Pass makes even more sense for families looking to add a couple of destination options to their annual pilgrimages. Central New Yorkers can plan a couple of days at Greek Peak, which sits between Binghamton, Ithaca, and Syracuse; New Hampshire skiers and residents of the Commonwealth can include a visit to Pat’s Peak, a small White Mountain ski area that has been the birthplace of many ski habits; and Mohawk Mountain, a tiny locals’ area that’s beloved by Connecticut families who are introducing newcomers and little ones to the sport.
And for those who are planning a visit to family in the Midwest, or who have a couple of extra days to burn in certain portions of the western United States and Canada, an Indy Pass can help provide a low-cost option for some below-the-radar ski tourism while away from home. Visit the Indy Pass website for more details about partner mountains and blackout dates.
Revelstoke's legendary glades are among the benefits of the Mountain Collective pass. Photo: John Giuffo
MOUNTAIN COLLECTIVE Price: $509 Destinations: Sugarbush in Vermont is the only eastern resort on the pass, but it gets you two days at each of 18 resorts around the world (and half-price lift tickets each additional day), including Aspen and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Alta, Snowbird and Snowbasin in Utah; Taos in New Mexico; Sun Valley in Idaho; Big Sky, Montana; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows in Tahoe; Mammoth south of Tahoe; Sunshine, Lake Louise, and Revelstoke in Canada; Coronet Peak and The Remarkables in New Zealand; Thredbo and Mt. Buller in Australia; Valle Nevado in Chile, and the four mountains of Niseko United in Japan.
The Mountain Collective offers a different approach. This is a ski pass for those who like to travel and sample a few different mountains each season. With Sugarbush being the only resort included in the east, the Mountain Collective is not ideal for east coasters who don’t have long-distance ski travel plans. However, the pass more than pays for itself after a few days at one or more of the many attractive destinations out west, and is ideal for those looking to add a handful of days to their existing ski pass.
Whether it’s a road trip from Calgary to the mountains of Alberta and eastern British Columbia, around Tahoe, or the long haul to Asia for some legendary Japow, the Mountain Collective makes long-distance ski adventures that much more affordable for east coast powder hounds who love their home mountains but also need to make that regular pilgrimage to more far-flung locations. Many of the locations on the pass have recently signed partnerships with either the Epic or Ikon passes, so some of the mountains on the pass may not stick around for next season. Get it while you can.
NEW YORK SKI3 PASS Price: Full Season: $899 until Dec. 2; $999 after Dec. 2 Non-Holiday: $729 until Dec. 2; $819 after Dec. 2 Mountains: Whiteface, Gore, Belleayre
Whiteface's gnarly steeps are included in the NY-centric Ski3 Pass. Photo: John Giuffo
This three-mountain pass is perfect for those who usually buy a season pass to any of the three ORDA* ski areas in New York, and who enjoy visiting one or both of the other two. With two tiers – the full season pass or with select holidays blacked out - they’re only slightly more expensive than the season passes to any of the individual mountains, which makes it worth the extra money after only three days spent at one of the other two ski areas.
The Ski3 Pass is a great deal for New Yorkers who can’t get enough of Gore’s glades, Whiteface’s steeps, or Belleayre’s proximity and family-friendly terrain.
Gore is something of an under-recognized superstar mountain, with its pucker-worthy steeps, get-lost-for-days variety, and a dizzying array of fun and challenging glades. It’s a favorite destination not only for Capital Region skiers and riders, but also for those who love bouncing around in the trees in high winter, when the base is deep, the roots and branches plastered down, and powder stashes lurk around each turn.
Located just an hour and a half outside Albany and four hours north of New York City, Gore gets somewhat overlooked by those on their way to Whiteface or Vermont, but it’s a mid-sized mountain that skis like a larger resort. And with recent expansions to the terrain, improvements to the lifts, and an expansion of The Tannery, the popular base lodge pub, it’s better than ever.
Its underdog status is a product of its location – it’s situated in a small town located about 45 minutes from the Interstate, and lodging near Gore is catch-as-catch-can, and helps contribute to Gore’s reputation as a mostly-locals’ mountain. But its trail and glade variety, as well as the general vibe in its old-school base lodge and pub place it among the most enjoyable ski areas in the Northeast.
Whiteface, located about an hour and a half north of Gore, is a serious destination resort that ranks among our favorites in the northeast, and that’s before factoring in the appeal of Lake Placid – which is one of the country’s best winter vacation towns.
Steeped in skiing history, Lake Placid remains a place where Olympic dreams are still born and nurtured. As the home of both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, the city remains a hub of winter sport practice and competition. You know a ski town is the real deal when the first landmark you see is the 75-meter ski jump tower, which looms over the tail end of Route 73 as you drive into town.
And the mountain itself is a no-messing around slice of Adirondack seriousness. Although there is terrain for beginners and timid intermediates, there isn’t much, and this is a place for skiers who know how to handle speed and how to engage an edge. With a fast gondola that hustles people up the mountain efficiently, and a legendary series of steep trails that seduce skiers into ripping fast, Whiteface is one of the best ski rushes in the Northeast. Things really heat up when the mountain gets enough snow to enable patrol to open The Slides – a hike-to series of avalanche-prone, cliff-strewn, icefall-littered terrain that becomes, on a powder day with a deep base (usually in late February or early March), as legit a piece of mountain badassery as any to be found inbounds, east or west.
Belleayre is an ideal option for families and skiers of all levels who prize proximity and affordability above more advanced thrills. Located just two hours north of New York City, it’s an ideal mountain in which to learn, to introduce newcomers to the sport, or to bring a group of infrequent, uncertain skiers.
With an intuitive layout that funnels down to one main base area, a series of beginner-friendly trails, and a new gondola that goes from the lower base area to the summit, it’s a popular destination for families with younger children, older skiers, or uncertain intermediates.
But no matter your skill level or terrain preferences, it’s likely that there’s an ORDA mountain that will delight you and keep you coming back for more, and the Ski3 Pass is a great option for New Yorkers who enjoy having a few options but like keeping things local.
(*ORDA is the acronym commonly used for the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority. Created in 1980 to manage the preparations and facilities during that year’s Olympics, it’s the state authority that operates all three of the above mountains, in an effort to both develop Olympic talent within the state and to act as an economic anchor in those rural communities in which the ski areas are located.)
NEW ENGLAND PASS Price: Four tiers, ranging from $1,479 for the unlimited pass to $599 for a weekday-only pass with blackout weeks. Click here for a complete list of pricing options. Mountains: Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Loon
Loon's groomers and views are part of the package with the New England Pass. Photo: John Giuffo
Like the name suggests, the New England Pass offers various levels of access to Boyne’s three New England resorts; Loon, Sunday River and Sugarloaf. This is a great option for those who would otherwise be season passholders to any of the three resorts, as well as New Englanders who live in more northeasterly quadrants of the region. From Boston through New Hampshire to Portland and points north, this is the right pass for coastal regulars. If you’re playing dice with the other diehards on #fullalbumthursdays at the Paul Bunyan Room , or if you’re on a first-name basis with the bartenders at the Foggy Goggle, this pass is your jam.
Boyne’s three New England ski areas are a well-curated selection of resort holdings: Loon, a mid-large mountain with killer White Mountain views within day-trip distance of Beantown; Sunday River, a sprawling resort with seven separate peaks that holds its own on a list of the best Northeast ski areas; and Sugarloaf, a steep-as-fuck expert-friendly well-gladed slackcountry wonderland – which, by the way, features the only cat skiing in the Northeast.
It’s a great option for those who have strong opinions about the per-pound price of live lobster, as well as those who don’t mind traveling a bit to some of the best terrain in the Northeast. From the confidence-building rippers at Loon to the powderhound playground of Sugarloaf’s alpine and treed terrain, there’s plenty to keep skiers and riders of all ages entertained. And combined with one of the other limited passes on our list, the New England pass would keep all but the most travel-hungry skiers and riders satisfied with a wealth of variety during the coming season.