As the winter season approaches dedicated mountain visitors begin to polish off their skis and snowboards. The fresh pow awaits. If you are an avid outdoors person who likes to ski, you know that this is a special time of year and it requires planning before one can strap on their boots and bindings. For those not fortunate to live in close proximity to a mountain where they offer a season pass, yet still wish to ski multiple times per year, we are here to help. You have probably looked into multi-resort passes, and you end up with the options of Epic, or Ikon. Then the questions becomes: is the Epic or the Ikon pass more beneficial?
What Are the IKON Pass and Epic Pass?
Both the Epic and Ikon passes can be purchased prior to the opening of ski resorts, and allow tremendous flexibility for your ski season experiences. Both passes allow multiple entry into multiple resorts. Due to increasing demand both passes need to be purchased far in advance of the coming season. We recommend checking the websites in the Spring to ensure that you get the pass you desire.
For those who live in Colorado, Wyoming, or California owning one of these two passes is a must as the proximity to top notch mountains allows for maximum use of the pass. However, for those in the south, midwest, and east coast of the US it will depend on how many weekend trips you make in a year.
As of January 2nd 2023 the full Epic pass with zero blackout dates costs $949 whereas the Ikon pass costs $1229. Both offer many sub passes with more limitations but a lower price point. The Epic Local Pass costs $735 for an adult whereas the Ikon Base Pass runs $919.
There are two main differences between the passes. First is the price point. The Epic pass is more affordable than the Ikon regardless of which option you choose. Next is the disparity in the number of unlimited resorts. The Epic pass has the clear advantage with 40 unlimited access resorts worldwide, compared to 14 for the Ikon. Limited access means that the user can stay for a maximum of 7 days at a resort.
Similarities Between IKON and Epic
The total number of resorts at which you can use both the Epic and Ikon passes is strikingly similar: 62 for Epic, 61 for Ikon. Each unlimited pass gives you the freedom of unlimited runs without blackout dates (days where the pass does not apply and you would have to purchase a separate lift ticket). Both passes also offer a lower cost, less inclusive option with blackout dates. Lastly, for those seeking an international adventure, both passes offer an array of options in France, Switzerland, Austria, Japan, and Australia. Although only the Ikon has offerings in New Zealand and Chile.
Additionally each pass typically offers some specials for your “home mountain”. For example our home mountain is Schweitzer Resort where we have our condos, and basically you can buy a season pass to your home mountain and then get an expansion with IKON/Epic to explore other resorts. Check with your home mountain office if you are looking to do that.
Which Is Better IKON or Epic?
The choice is difficult, and depends very much on where you live. Epic has the name notoriety due to it being around for 10+ years. In addition, the Epic pass seems to be more straightforward whereas the Ikon pass requires a $200 add on for some resorts if you have the Base version. In our research, the Ikon pass is slightly better for those on the East Coast, Southern California, and Utah. Epic edges out in Utah, Northern California, and Colorado.
One point to make is that the Epic Pass allows more inexpensive “buddy passes” meaning an odd on for a one-day pass for friends or family.
Ultimately they both are good options, but really it comes down to your preference of resort. Epic has all the Vail-owned resorts, and IKON has the Alterra properties.
One final thing to mention is there is a third player in the ski pass market, The Mountain Collective. The 2023 season seems to be sold out on this one, but it is generally less expensive and offers two day passes at a number of resorts like Alta, Banff, Arapahoe and others. This could be great if you are traveling around and want to move on from resorts quickly or just want to do some weekend trips.
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