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Been wondering about the best way to spend your ski season savings? There’s no doubt that we’d recommend putting it towards a new pair of custom Wagner skis, but if you happen to have a little extra left for a season pass, there’s likely one burning question in your mind: Epic or Ikon?
These two conglomerates dominate the ski industry, both of them boasting access to nearly every ski resort from coast-to-coast and even worldwide. Unless you’re loyal to your local mountain or prefer to earn your turns in the backcountry (no RFID required), then there’s a very good chance you will have to decide between the two mega-passes.
Don’t waste your time doing the research, we did it for you, because the sooner you decide the sooner you can go skiing. Here’s a quick and dirty guide to choosing an Ikon or Epic pass.
Cost | $819
Discounted Ski with a Friend and Buddy rates; 20% off food, lodging, lessons and more; live updates on lift line wait times with the EpicMix app; no blackout dates.
Yes. Their Epic Coverage is included in the total price of your pass and guarantees refunds for everything from mandatory stay-at-home orders to injuries to jury duty.
The Epic Pass gives you access to 79 resorts around the world, with unlimited access to 37 resorts throughout the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Plus, days to ski in the mountains in Europe, including France, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria.
You’ll get unlimited days at six mountains in the Rockies, four in California and Nevada, ten throughout the Midwest, and a whopping 13 mountains in the Northeast ranging from New York to Vermont.
Read carefully! While the Epic Pass has a long list of ski mountains where you can get in as many days as you want, make sure to check out their website to see which major U.S. ski hills have limited access, like Telluride, Sun Valley, and Snow Basin.
Epic also offers different levels of the pass, including the Local Pass, which offers even more limited access to resorts, with all the same perks and coverage; a day pass, for 1-7 days at all 34 resorts in the U.S. and Canada; and location-specific passes.
Cost | $1,149
25% off for friends and family; 15% off food, lodging, and retail; deals on travel and airfare; $50 Protect Our Winters membership.
Yes. Ikon’s Adventure Assurance is included with your pass, providing the option to defer your until next season for any reason.
Ski or ride at over 40 destinations across the globe on the Ikon Pass with unlimited access to 15 ski resorts in the U.S. and Canada, as well as New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Japan, and Switzerland. For those who prefer to ski or are based in Colorado, there are 14 destinations in the Rockies, eight in the West and Pacific Northwest, two in the Midwest, and eight in New England.
Just like the Epic Pass, Ikon’s list of ski resorts with limited days (almost all offer access for seven days) is fairly long, so make sure you check it out before committing. And if you don’t want to buy the big season pass, they also offer different versions of the pass with varying levels of access, including the Ikon Base Pass and Ikon Session 4-Day Pass. Both have blackout dates, less days on the mountain, and no access to some of the resorts on the list. Ikon also offers a slew of local season passes for specific mountains. Check it out on their website.
At a 10,000-foot glance, the sheer amount of Northeast ski resorts on the Epic Pass would benefit most east coast skiers who also want to take a trip out West or somewhere even more farflung. The Epic Pass is cheaper and gives you access to more resorts, but it’s worth mentioning that Vail Resorts, the large corporation that owns Epic, has made plenty of headlines with a barrage of complaints from passholders and employees. If that’s important to you, it’s definitely something to consider before buying.
The Ikon Pass has a slightly smaller list of mountains to choose from, but caters to the skiers and riders in the Rockies, with destinations around the world. It might be the more expensive option and only has a few options for passes, as opposed to Epic’s selection, however, they do offer a payment plan to pay off the cost over 3, 6, or 12 months. As opposed to Epic’s drama, Ikon puts its weight behind supporting environmental and socially-driven nonprofits like POW, SheJumps, and Natives Outdoors. So, again, if that’s important to you, it can be a big factor when deciding which to buy. The bottom line? Where do you want to ski the most? Both passes have a lot of similarities and not too many differences aside from their destinations, so it’s up to you to pick your pass and choose your own adventure.
Kat is freelance writer with a focus on outdoor travel, design, and sustainability, She is an avid skier, hiker, surfer and passionate yoga teacher who will take any excuse to have an adventure and call it work. She lives in beautiful coastal Maine with her husband and three-legged dog. We are glad to have her as part of the Wagner family.