Which season ski pass is right for you? Here’s a guide to help you decide

Whether you value flexibility or pinching pennies, there are pass options for you.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) People take to the slopes at Brighton Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2020.

Utah seems to have almost more season pass options than lifts these days.

Each resort has its own pass, and each pass seems to have variations depending on a skier or snowboarder’s age or occupation or the days of the week you want to ride. Layered atop that are nearly 10 multi-resort offerings, also with their own variations.

But what’s good for the park rat isn’t necessarily good for the powder hound. The reasons people for picking their pass each winter vary as widely as the choices, encompassing everything from terrain, to a variety of resort options, to military discounts to location.

So which pass is right for you? We’re here to help.

Below we’ve included several sets of circumstances and the pass option that we believe fits them best. The early bird specials have flown south since we originally ran this list in the summer. So you’ll be spending a little more if you’re late to the party.

This is the best pass if you ...

Have an unlimited budget and are feeling generous

Ski Utah Gold Pass, $5,700

Think of the Gold Pass like Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, only you can have a friend step in for you if one day you don’t really feel like tasting the everlasting gobstopper. The Gold Pass is good every day (no blackouts) at all of Utah’s ski and snowboard establishments and also grants summer lift access. Plus, it’s fully transferable, so a friend, family member or even that cute girl or guy at the gym can ride on your dime without breaking any rules.

Those of us with more shallow pockets can pick up the Silver Pass for $3,700. It offers all the perks of the Gold Pass except it can’t be shared.

These passes are popular enough that both options sold out for the 2021-22 season before the first resorts opened. So if you’re interested, you can get on the 2022-23 waiting list now at www.skiutah.com.

[Read more: Will you need a vaccination card while skiing in Utah? Here are the COVID rules this season.]

Have to sell your bike to buy a pass

Epic Local Pass, $619

Vail Resorts cut the price of its line of multi-resort Epic passes by 20% for the 2021-22 season. That’s lower than it’s been in five years. While the pass is good at 70 resorts worldwide, only two of those are in Utah. One is Park City Mountain Resort, which has the largest skiable acreage in the nation. Two days at Snowbasin are also included.

If you can get a little more cash for that bike, you could get no blackouts at PCMR and seven days at Snowbasin with the full Epic Pass for $819.

Don’t even have a bike to sell

Cherry Peak season pass, up to $349

Yes, it’s one of Utah’s smallest resorts, but it has a price tag to match. For the price of a single-day ticket at some resorts, you get full daily and nightly access for summer and winter and two buddy night passes at this Logan-area ski hill. Bring the whole family (up to six) for under $900.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Skiers ride a lift at Solitude on Saturday, April 17, 2021.

Like having options

Ikon Pass, $1,049

The Ikon Pass gets a bad rap for bringing hordes of skiers and snowboarders to some of Utah’s best resorts. But it’s no wonder so many have this pass in their pocket. The pass gives full access to 15 resorts around the world, including Solitude. Seven days each at Brighton, Deer Valley and Alta/Snowbird are also on the ticket.

“I like having options on any given day, so I love the Ikon,” Brooke Fredrickson wrote in response to a Tribune poll. “The weather can sometimes be very different in Park City vs. the mountains up the Canyons so it’s nice to be able to pick and choose depending on what I’m in the mood for.”

Thirty other resorts across the United States and Canada, plus some in Australia, Switzerland, Japan and Chile, are also packed into the pass. Another perk new for 2021-22 is the First Tracks program, which allows pass holders early access to lifts once a month in January, February and March.

Get the same deal with blackout dates and five days at each resort on the Ikon Base Pass for $270 less.

Have a small family of rippers

Summit 4-pack, $2,799

Snowbird not only has the longest season in Utah, it also has some of the best terrain. If you, the spouse and your two kids are intermediate to advanced skiers or snowboarders, this may be the best ticket in town. Basically, you buy two adult passes and two kids (18-under) ski free.

If you’re a skier, consider mixing it up with the Alta-Bird 4-pack. It runs $4,199 but gives you two resorts and can save you from buying the passes separately. Alta also has its own four-pack family deal.

Have enough kids to field a ski team

Brighton Family Package, $2,557 and up for family of 5

Got a bigger family? Brighton has a bargain for you. New this year, the Big Cottonwood Canyon resort lets you bundle your parent and kid passes at a price that could actually be less than buying two individual adult passes. The two-parent deal costs $899 per adult pass (a savings of $100 each off the Unlimited pass) plus $249 for each kid 11-18 or just $50 for each kid 10-under.

There’s no limit on the number of kids and there’s a separate option for single-parent families. Extra bonus: It includes night skiing and riding.

Have a family of newbies

Power Kids Pass, $0

Yes, you read that right: Anyone 12-under has unfettered access to Nordic Valley in Ogden, Brian Head Resort near Cedar City and three other resorts in the Southwest, no strings attached. If you’re the kid’s adult and you’re also learning or like driving to/live near those resorts, an adult pass starts at $725 with the same perks.

And no worries if you advance faster than expected. Nordic Valley now has a high-speed six-pack accessing some more challenging terrain, Brian Head is nothing to sneer at and those who buy early get a bonus day at Sundance.

Want a Utah Ski Sampler

Yeti Pass, $649

Meant as a companion for parents with kids in Ski Utah’s fifth- or sixth-grade passport program, the Yeti provides a single day of skiing or riding at every Utah resort. Be warned, though, that you may be hamstrung by blackout days.

Don’t want to spend your Saturdays staring at taillights

Snowbasin Premier Pass, $1,199

Much ado has been made of all the traffic going up the Cottonwood Canyons last winter. Even post-pandemic, that’s not going to go away. So instead of spending that time worrying about whether an avalanche, a snowstorm or a two-wheel drive Honda Civic will add hours to your ski trip, one option is to drive an hour in the opposite direction to Snowbasin.

In addition to no blackout dates and summer lift access, Premier Pass holders can get 50% off tickets at Epic Pass resorts like Park City Mountain Resort, which is easily accessible off I-80.

A midweek pass may also solve the drive-time issue. Snowbasin offers one of those, too, as do Solitude, Deer Valley and Alta.

(Photo courtesy of Sam Watson | Snowbird Resort) Junior Bounous, 95, the former director of Mountain School and director of skiing at Snowbird, enjoys a heli-ski trip Monday, April 5, 2021, in the backcountry near Snowbird. With the expedition, Bounous is believed to have become the oldest person to helicopter ski.

Believe age is just a number

Alta senior pass, $50

We can’t all be Junior Bounous, who just set the Guinness World Record for being the oldest person to heli-ski at age 95. But we can dream of stepping into our skis at age 80 and taking advantage of this screaming deal. It’s a $1,040 discount over what those 65-79 will pay.

Don’t worry snowboarders, you won’t be left out in the cold when you’re old. Anyone 75 or older can carve up Powder Mountain for $80 for the season.

And on the other end of the spectrum, several resorts — most notably Brighton, Brian Head and Snowbird — offer passes for “young adults,” at a several-hundred-dollar discount.

Have an adventurous spirit and a shoestring budget

Mountain Collective, $589

If only used in Utah, this pass isn’t exceptional. It gets you just two days each at Alta and Snowbird. If you want to use skiing as an excuse to travel the world, however, it’s not a bad way to go. How does two days at Chamonix in France sound? Or carve out a summer on the slopes of The Remarkables in New Zealand, Mt. Buller or Thredbo in Australia, Niseko United in Japan and Valle Nevado in Chile. Plus, if you decide to stay an extra day, additional lift tickets are 50% off.