Which Utah 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.

This article is part of The Salt Lake Tribune’s New to Utah series. For more articles on Utah’s food, culture, history, outdoors and more, sign up for the newsletter at https://www.sltrib.com/new-to-utah/.

Note: Prices have been updated as of Aug. 29, 2023.

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 they 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 offer up 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. Look to buy in spring and summer, or else the early bird specials will fly south on you.

This is the best pass if you ...

Have an unlimited budget

Ski Utah Gold Pass, $10,000

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.

The only drawback (other than, possibly, the price)? There’s a waitlist and it’s possible you won’t get one this season.

Have to sell your bike to buy a pass

Epic Local Pass, $689

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, and despite inflation, the price has stayed mostly flat. While the pass is good at almost 50 resorts worldwide, only one of those is in Utah. That’s Park City Mountain Resort, which has the largest lift-accessed acreage in the nation. If you don’t mind driving, Heavenly and Kirkwood in California and Telluride, Vail and Beaver Creek in Colorado are also on the ticket.

If you can get a little more cash for that bike, you could get no blackouts at Park City Mountain and more destination choices with the full Epic Pass for $929.

Don’t even have a bike to sell

Cherry Peak season pass, up to $289

Yes, it’s one of Utah’s smallest resorts, but it has a price tag to match. For a little more than 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.

If even that’s too much, consider the midweek pass that’s valid Thursdays and Fridays. It’ll save you about an extra $100.

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

Like having options

Ikon Pass, $1,259

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 Ikon gives full access to 15 resorts around the world, including Solitude. Plus, pass holders can ski or ride up to seven days apiece at 40 other resorts. In Utah, that includes Brighton, Deer Valley, Alta/Snowbird and newly added Snowbasin.

“I like having options on any given day, so I love the Ikon,” Brooke Fredrickson wrote in response to a Tribune pass 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.”

Another perk that debuted during the 2021-22 season is the First Tracks program. It allows Ikon holders early access to lifts at select resorts once a month in January, February and March.

For $330 less, the Ikon Base Pass is more of a budget option. It offers five days instead of seven at most resorts and has blackout dates. However, Utah skiers and riders should note that Deer Valley, Alta and Snowbasin are not included on that pass. An upgrade to the Base Pass Plus is needed to access those resorts and it costs an additional $220.

Have a small family of rippers

Summit Pass + Freeloader Pass, $2,719

Snowbird not only has the longest season in Utah; it also has some of the best terrain. So if you and your kid are intermediate to advanced skiers or snowboarders, this may be the best ticket in town. Basically, you buy an adult Summit pass and one kid (18-under) rides free with the Freeloader pass add-on. This is a screaming deal considering that in years past Snowbird offered a similar four-pack deal for $1,000 more than this will cost a family of four. The deal also applies to senior and military Summit season passes for added savings.

If you’re a skier, consider mixing it up with the Alta-Bird Summit pass combo. It starts at $2,758 but gives you two resorts plus one Freeloader pass for a kid age 18 or under.

Have enough kids to field a ski team

Brighton Family Package

Got a bigger family? Brighton has a bargain for you. The Big Cottonwood Canyon resort lets you bundle an unlimited number of kid passes with your Unlimited parent pass at a bargain price. The deal costs $1,099 for an adult Unlimited pass (or $1550 with the Ikon Pass add-on). Then pay $220 for each kid 13-18, $110 for each kid 7-12 or just $35 for each kid 6-under. There’s no limit on the number of kids you can add.

The deal also works with an Unlimited young adult pass (ages 19-27, $799). Extra bonus: It includes night skiing and riding, free parking within the resort’s new reservation system and a UTA Ski Bus pass.

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 four other resorts in the Southwest, no strings attached. If you’re the kid’s adult and you’re looking for a season pass of your own, prices start at $399.

And no worries if you advance faster than expected. Nordic Valley now has a high-speed six-pack accessing some more challenging runs and Brian Head has a good selection of advanced terrain.

Want a Utah Ski Sampler

Yeti Pass, $719

Meant as a companion for parents with kids in Ski Utah’s fourth-, fifth- or sixth-grade passport program, the Yeti provides a single day of skiing or riding at every Utah resort. Unlike previous seasons, it has no blackout dates or restrictions. Be warned, however, that quantities of this Ski Utah product are limited.

Don’t want to spend your Saturdays staring at taillights

Snowbasin Premier Pass, $1,249

Much ado has been made of all the traffic going up the Cottonwood Canyons. Even with a gondola, 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 Mountain Collective resorts like Alta and Snowbird. Plus riders as old as 26 qualify for the Young Adult pass, which knocks the price down $300 more.

A midweek pass may also solve the drive-time issue. Most resorts now offer these, including Snowbasin and its remote neighbor Powder Mountain. Powder Mountain, which has already sold out of season passes, will be offering its five-pack of tickets online only through Labor Day.

(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.