Snow Plans

The Washington Ski Season Pass Guide for 2022–23

Changes are afoot at the buffet of buy-once, ski-all-winter tickets.

By Allison Williams October 31, 2022

Snow's up at Stevens Pass.

Choosing between ski season passes gets more complicated every year, to the point where we might need a spreadsheet, an atlas, and a calendar to make sense of it all. Washington, home to 20 or so ski areas, can be explored with a number of the multi-mountain passes. Here's the 2022–23 breakdown; note that prices and availability change as fall rolls toward winter.

Epic Pass

When Vail Resorts, based in Colorado, bought Stevens Pass, it came with upsides and downsides. The global Epic Pass gave unlimited access to the Highway 2 ski area, plus days at Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, Park City, and more. But large crowds and a loss of the mountain's signature funky local vibe annoyed longtime customers, and last season staffing issues kept the ski area from opening all terrain. In fact, Vail Resorts had such bad customer and staff experiences that they cut their signature Epic Pass prices by 20 percent last year. Vail tried to course correct by bringing in an interim general manager with local roots, and this summer named University of Washington alumna Ellen Galbraith to the position. 

With Stevens still unlimited on the Epic Local Pass—currently $669 and cheaper than the $899 full Epic Pass—the mountain remains one of the best deals on the West Coast; the Epic Local also gives 10 non-holiday days to Whistler Blackcomb. (Tip for the Canada-bound: The $308–334 five-day Edge Card, good at Whistler but also redeemable for a few days at Stevens, is only available to Washington state buyers.) 

Ikon Pass

How much can change in a year. Last season, Crystal Mountain skiers who wanted unlimited access had to go from the Ikon Base Pass (sort of like the Epic Local) to the full Ikon Pass—but they didn't know how bad sticker shock could get. This year, Alterra Mountain Resort, Colorado-based owner of Crystal, took unlimited Crystal off the Ikon altogether. An anytime Crystal season pass is currently selling for $1,849, nearly twice what the Crystal-and-more cost last year. A cheaper Crystal Roots Pass is good for weekdays only midseason.

Crystal visitors will also be greeted by major construction at the base area this winter as Alterra begins a multi-year, $100 million upgrade, including base lodges and a luxury hotel. Cold comfort: When they originally announced the change in March, pass holders were told they would have to shell out for parking or add a pricey season parking pass; Alterra backtracked on that within days. (Update: Crystal Mountain posted an outline of its planned expansions through 2025, including new terrain, a rebuilt summit restaurant, and a second gondola—meaning that elite season pass will grant access to quite a lot in coming years.) 

Fresh tracks at Crystal Mountain.

The Ikon (currently $1,299) with just seven days at Crystal is nowhere near the deal it used to be, though Northwest skiers can still use it for seven days at Summit at Snoqualmie, Mount Bachelor, Schweitzer, and Sun Valley, plus Sun Peaks in central British Columbia; the Ikon Base Pass (currently $919) is similar but for five days with some blackouts. Still, with no local all-you-can-ski spots and much pricier than the Epic, it's a choice that appeals to serious travelers only.

Indy Pass

When Doug Fish launched the Indy Pass a few years ago, he saw it as a way to boost the independently owned (and smaller) ski hills that suffered as Vail and Alterra bought up midsize resorts and gave them luxury makeovers. With two days at each small mountain, plus discounts on future ticket purchases, the Indy is basically a small town road trip rolled into a ski pass. The no-blackouts Indy Plus version currently sells for $429 and is good at a whopping 119 mountains, including Mission Ridge, White Pass, Hurricane Ridge, Ski Bluewood near Walla Walla, Mount Hood Meadows, and Hoodoo near Bend, plus a smattering of small British Columbia and California areas. 

The Mountain Collective has a similar model—just two days at each of 25 resorts, plus a steep discount for purchasing extra days—but focuses on more luxury spots, including Sun Valley, Sun Peaks, Jackson Hole, and Aspen. It currently sells for $599.

The slopes aren't the only draw at Mission Ridge.

Individual Resorts

The rise of the big collective pass has changed the sport, but for decades skiers have purchased access to their local mountain. Unlike those big Epic and Ikon versions, quantities can be limited. The Summit at Snoqualmie, comprised of four ski areas including Alpental, sells out of its Unlimited pass quickly (currently $779)—but night and weekday versions stay available longer.

Powder hounds snap up Unlimited passes to access areas like Alpental.

Mount Baker Ski Area prioritizes returning pass holders, so relatively few newcomers manage to join its numbers each year; sales have already been capped. White Pass has similarly ended unlimited pass sales. But the upside to that shortage is that day tickets are cheap compared to other ski hills, just $87.04 this season at Mount Baker. In a year when single-day tickets inch toward $300 at Colorado's fanciest destinations, some of the Northwest's best snow and steeps remain within (relative) reach.

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