Ikon vs Epic Pass – Which is Best?


Welcome to ThinkVail – We hope you find this article about Ikon vs Epic Pass helpful.

Check out this article for detailed information about each ski pass so you can decide which pass is best for you and your family.

The Epic Pass debuted in 2008, and it was a game changer for the ski industry, today the Epic Pass and the Ikon Pass have emerged as the two competing powerhouse ski passes. These popular, multi-destination, multi-day ski passes are revolutionizing the industry because they enhance the visitor’s experience while reducing risk for the ski resorts, creating a win-win scenario.

Although, both passes boast ski destinations around the world, Colorado has the most concentrated number of major ski resorts in North America and is hands-down, the most popular for ski vacations. In addition, Colorado is home to millions of native skiers in the Denver area who buy a season pass every year, so it’s sensible to start by comparing what both passes offer in terms of Colorado amenities.

In Colorado, the Epic Pass (by Vail Resorts) represents Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge and Crested Butte while the Ikon Pass (by Alterra) represents Aspen, Snowmass, Steamboat, Copper Mountain, Winter Park, Eldora and Arapahoe Basin

These ski passes allow skiers and riders to access multiple resorts throughout the winter, not just one, at a deep discounted rate off the regular lift ticket price.

So, no matter where you ski, be it, Colorado, California, the Northeast, Japan or other resorts around the globe,  and whether it’s an Ikon or Epic, having a ski pass hanging around your neck  gives you unlimited ski access to most ski resorts and limited days at many exclusive ski resorts for the entire season. It’s amazing.

Purchasing a pass can also entitle you to additional benefits like early-bird price discounts, buddy passes, discounts on lodging, and the ability to use your ski pass for free in the summer for gondola rides up the mountain and more.



These innovative ski passes benefit skiers & ski resorts but which ski pass is best for YOU?

The best way to choose which pass will work for you and your family is to answer some important questions about how, where and when you and your family like to ski and snowboard.

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Where you ski and ride will most often dictate which pass you buy. If you live, work and ski in Vail, Colorado you should buy the Epic Pass, if you live, work and ski in Steamboat, CO the Ikon is the way to go.

If you ski out east, you might find the Ikon Pass attractive with all its Northeastern ski resorts but if you’re a die-hard Stowe fan, you will need to go with the Epic.

If you are planning a ski adventure to Japan you may want to investigate the Epic Pas as it offers 5 total days EACH at Hakuba Valley and Rusutsu, Japan in addition, to of all their North American and European ski resort offerings. That is a pretty amazing deal!



Number of Ski Days

If you’re looking for between one-and seven days of skiing the Epic Day Pass would be perfect, it will save you approximately half off the window price of a full-day lift ticket.

Looking for more than seven days but don’t want an unlimited, season pass? Both the Ikon and Epic offer a pass that is restricted on all holidays but allows you to ski unlimited days at a variety of resorts and anywhere from 2-10 days at rock star resorts like Vail, Beaver Creek and Telluride.

If you have lots of time to ski and plan to get out on the mountain every day or at least once a week, or take 2-3 week-long ski vacations or more each season, then the full, non-restricted Epic or Ikon Pass is the way to go.



Holiday Skiing

If your idea of the perfect vacation is gathering your family together to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, Martin Luther King weekend or President’s Day weekend on the ski mountain than you are going to want an unlimited, unrestricted full Epic or Ikon Ski Pass. Most value passes save you money because they restrict skiing on high-traffic holidays.


Most Expensive – Unrestricted Epic and Ikon passes are more expensive because there are no blackout dates and they offer unlimited ski days at many ski resorts.

Less Expensive – A restricted pass is less expensive but it will prohibit skiing on holidays and/or high traffic days and reduces the amount of days that you can ski or ride at many resorts, especially the most popular resorts.

Least Expensive – The Epic Day Pass costs less than the other passes because it only allows you up on the hill for 1-7 days but this is a great choice if you will only be skiing or riding one week or less per season and is customizable to the amount of days you need.



Participating Ski Resorts

A ski pass is only as good as the ski resorts that you can access. The Epic Pass won’t really help you out if you live in Steamboat and the Ikon pass won’t get you on the ski mountain at Vail. So once you decide what ski resorts you will be skiing or riding this winter, most of the decision as to which pass is best, will have been made for you. See below for a complete list of the resorts that each Pass services.

Types of Passes

Day Passes currently, only the Epic Day Pass offers a pass that gives you a discounted price for 1-7 days but I am sure that the Ikon will be rolling out a similar feature in the near future.

A day pass let you decide the price of the pass by deciding how many days (up to 7) can be bundled and lets you decide whether you want holidays or restricted days.

Also, the Epic 4-Day, 5-Day, 6-Day and 7-Day Passes include access to Telluride in Colorado, Snowbasin in Utah, Sun Valley in Idaho and six (6) Resorts in the Canadian Rockies.

Day Passes are available for adults and children. Enjoy a discount of up to 50% off the ticket window price for each ski day.

Restricted Value Passesif you re more flexible, the Epic Local Pass or the Ikon Base Pass might be perfect for you. These passes do not allow you to ski or ride on holidays or really high-traffic day and it may limit the number of days you can access more popular resorts.

So as an example, the Epic Local Pass you can get unlimited, non-holiday ski days at many Vail-owned resorts but only 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek (combined). If you want to ski Vail and Beaver Creek more than 10 days you must upgrade to the full Epic Pass. The Ikon Base Pass has similar restrictions offering only 5 days each at Aspen Snowmass, Steamboat and Arapahoe Basin.

Full Passes if you have the time and inclination, the Epic and Ikon Pass offers you an all-access pass to tons of great skiing every day of the week, all winter long. So, if you prefer to ski holidays and busy weekends go for the full pass. Both passes have unlimited skiing and riding at lots of resorts with access to a set-amount of ski days at the more popular ski resorts

So for example, with the Ikon Pass you could have unlimited skiing at Copper Mountain, Eldora or Steamboat Springs (unlimited and holidays) and also enjoy an additional 7 days as Aspen Snowmass and an additional 7 days at Arapahoe Basin. That’s a lot of amazing skiing!

On the flip side, the full Epic Pass offers unrestricted skiing at Vail and Beaver Creek (and/or Breckenridge and Keystone) with no blackout dates, so you can ski any holiday AND an additional 7 days in Telluride.



Epic Pass

The full, adult Epic Pass offers unparalleled access to 65 resorts worldwide. The Epic Pass has unlimited skiing and riding at many of the best resorts in Colorado, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Crested Butte. It also includes unlimited skiing at Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in California; Park City in Utah; Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada; Stowe, Okemo and Mount Sunapee in the Northeast; Stevens Pass in Washington; Afton Alps, Wilmot Mountain and Mt. Brighton in the Midwest; and Perisher Resort in Australia.

In addition, the Epic Pass also offers 3-7 days of skiing on non-restricted days at each of these resorts; Telluride in Colorado; Sun Valley, Snowbasin, Kicking Horse and Fernie in British Columbia, Canada; Hakuba Valley in Japan and additional ski resorts in France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria.

Restricted days are individually determined by each resort based on holidays and high traffic so you’ll want to research the resort you are planning to visit to make sure it is not during a restricted or blackout date.

Epic Local Pass

The Epic Local Pass is not just for locals but for anyone who appreciates value. Skiers and riders can enjoy unrestricted, unlimited skiing at Breckenridge, Keystone, Crested Butte, Wilmont, Mt. Brighton, Mount Sunappee, Stevens Pass, Afton Alps and Okemo. It also offers restricted skiing at Heavenly, Park City, Northstar, Kirkwood and Stowe.

Best of all Vail Valley locals (or anyone) can take advantage of 10-days of holiday-restricted skiing and riding at Vail, Beaver Creek and Whistler Blackcomb all season long. Also, it offers an additional 2 holiday-restricted days at Sun Valley and Snowbasin.

Epic Day Pass

The Epic Day Pass is a customizable pass is designed for skiers who do not need a full season pass but still looking for multiple days at various resorts. Choose between 1-7 days of skiing at all of Vail’s North American resorts at up to a 50% discount off the ticket window prices. This is perfect for the occasional skier or rider or the person just planning on skiing for up to a week during the season and doesn’t need or want unlimited access. Offered with and without holiday restrictions



Ikon Pass

The Ikon Pass offers unrestricted skiing and riding at 12 ski resorts, including western iconic ski areas Steamboat Springs, Winter Park, Copper Mountain Resort, Eldora in Colorado and Solitude in Utah. As well as unlimited skiing in Squaw Valley, Mammoth, June Mountain and Big Bear Mountain in California, Stratton in Vermont; Snowshoe in West Virginia; Crystal Mountain in Washington; Tremblant in Quebec, Canada; and Blue Mountain in Ontario, Canada.

In addition, enjoy up to 7 free days at another seven ski resort destinations including Aspen Snowmass and Arapahoe Basin (A-Basin) here in Colorado. Or try Jackson Hole in Wyoming,  Alta Snowbird, Brighton and Deer Valley in Utah.

In all, the Ikon Pass boasts 41 global destinations, with lots of access and no blackout dates.

Ikon Base Pass

The Ikon Base Pass offers exceptional value by limiting skiing and riding during busy holiday weeks and some high-traffic resorts, but otherwise offers unlimited skiing and full pass privileges at 12 ski resorts including Copper Mountain, Winter Park, and Eldora. (see full list below).

Plus enjoy 5 days each at another 28 ski resorts around the globe, including Steamboat Springs, Aspen Snowmass and Arapahoe Basin , in Colorado. So as long as you are not interested in skiing on the holidays, this might be the perfect pass for you.

The Ikon Base Pass offers the best value with limited restrictions and blackout dates.



Epic Pass Overview

The Epic Pass, lives up to its name and offers skiers a mix of unlimited skiing at their home resort as well as the opportunity to travel and try out other destinations.

In Colorado, the Epic Pass includes the iconic ski resorts: Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge, and newly-acquired Crested Butte.

The Epic Pass has nine of the top 30 ski resorts in North America.

In the Northeast, skiers and snowboarders can enjoy Stowe Resort in Vermont which is arguably, one of the single best ski resorts in the Northeast

The Epic Pass gets you unlimited days at 18 Vail-owned properties across Colorado, Utah, California, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Michigan, Washington and British Columbia, Australia, and Japan.

It also includes limited days at resorts like Telluride in Colorado, Fernie and Kicking Horse in British Columbia, Sun Valley in Idaho and Snowbasin in Utah, and lots of additional ski resorts throughout Europe and Japan.

Epic Pass Additional Perks

EpicMix, is an amazing app that tracks and captures all your activity on the slopes. Track your days skied, your vertical feet, and what trails you took, earn EpicMix pins for achievements, and collect points. You can also view lift-line wait times and see your exact location on the trail map!

  • Half-price ski tickets to Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood and Stowe on restricted dates.
  • Advanced Lift Ticket Rate available during blackout dates at Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb and beyond 10 days.
  • 6 Ski-With-A-Friend tickets allowing you to bring along non-pass holders at a deep discount from the ticket window price.
  • Epic Pass Club Enrollment provides additional discounts on dining, lodging, ski tunes, rentals and more.
  • Summer scenic chairlift and gondola rides (foot passengers only) at Vail & Beaver Creek destinations and other Vail-owned properties.
  • Tie your Epic Pass to your credit card to make on-mountain purchases easy and convenient

Epic Resort Destinations

  • Vail, CO
  • Beaver Creek, CO
  • Crested Butte, CO
  • Breckenridge, CO
  • Keystone, CO
  • Wilmot, WI
  • Afton Alps, MN
  • Mt. Brighton,MI
  • Okemo, VT
  • Mt. Snow, VT
  • Mount Sunapee, NH
  • Attitash, NH
  • Crotched Mountain, NH
  • Wildcat Mountain, NH
  • Stevens Pass, WA
  • Park City, UT
  • Snowbasin, UT
  • Sun Valley, ID
  • Heavenly, CA
  • Northstar, CA
  • Kirkwood, CA
  • Stowe, VT
  • Roundtop Mountain, PA
  • Big Boulder, PA
  • Whitetail Resort, PA
  • Jack Frost, PA
  • Liberty Mountain, PA
  • Hunter Mountain, NY
  • Brandywine, OH
  • Mad River Mountain, OH
  • Boston Mills, OH
  • Alpine Valley OH
  • Whistler Blackcomb, BC
  • Snow Creek, MO
  • Hakuba Valley’s ten ski resorts, Japan
  • Rusutsu, Japan



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Ikon Pass Overview

The Ikon Pass also allows passholders a mix of unlimited skiing or snowboarding at their home resort as well as the opportunity to travel and try out other ski destinations.

The Ikon Pass has 16 of the top 30 ski resorts in North America in it’s portfolio.

In Colorado, enjoy Aspen Snowmass, Steamboat, Copper Mountain, Arapahoe Basin and Eldora. If you love skiing in the northeast, the Ikon Pass offers a ton of variety and convenience with unlimited skiing at Stratton and a handful of days at Killington, Loon, Sugarbush, Mont Tremblant, Sunday River and Sugarloaf.

Alterra is newer to the Ski Pass scene and has just recently started acquiring ski resorts and partnering with ski areas but their am is to not homogenize its resorts but to embrace the unique spirit and personality of each destination.

Ikon Pass Additional Perks

  • 8 Friends & Family Discount Lift Tickets
  • 10% Off retail, food and beverages at select locations
  • Tie your Ikon Pass to your credit card to make on-mountain purchases easy and convenient (at select locations)
  • MH Heli-skiing early booking privileges for winter and 10% off summer adventure trips.
  • Summer scenic chairlift and gondola rides (foot passengers only) at 13 Ikon Pass destinations.
  • Ikon Pass holders receive a one-year $50 USD-level membership to Protect Our Winters.
  • Keep in mind amenities may change depending on tier of Ikon Pass

IKON Resort Destinations

  • Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, CA
  • June Mountain, CA
  • Mammoth Mountain , CA
  • Big Bear Mountain Resort, CA
  • Crystal Mountain, WA
  • Summit at Snoqualmie, WA
  • Aspen Snowmass, CO
  • Steamboat,CO
  • Winter Park, CO
  • Copper Mountain, CO
  • Arapahoe Basin, CO
  • Eldora Mountain, CO
  • Jackson Hole, WY
  • Big Sky Resort, MT
  • Taos Ski Valley, NM
  • Deer Valley, UT
  • Solitude Mountain resort, UT
  • Brighton, UT
  • Alta, UT
  • Snowbird , UT
  • Boyne Highlands, MI
  • Stratton,VT
  • Killington-Pico, VT
  • Sugarbush Resort, VT
  • Sunday River, ME
  • Sugarloaf, ME
  • Loon Mountain, NH
  • Snowshoe, WV
  • Tremblant
  • Blue Mountain, Canada
  • Valle Nevado, Chile
  • Zermatt Matterhorn, Switzerland
  • Thredbo, Australia
  • Mt Buller, Australia
  • Coronet Peak, New Zealand
  • The Remarkables, New Zealand
  • Mt. Hutt, New Zealand
  • Niseko United, Japan

Keep in mind that the details of these ski passes change every year as ski resorts change their offerings based on customer feedback or on ski resorts’ needs.  We have tried our best, to correctly and accurately describe the latest benefits and restrictions but always confirm this information with the actual ski resort to make sure nothing has changed, if it has, please let us know so we can spread the word.



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We hoped you found this article about Ikon vs Epic Pass – which is best helpful.  What is your favorite Pass and why?  Where do you use your pass and do you think you get your money’s worth from it?  Do you find value in these multi-day, multi resort passes?  We would love to hear your thoughts, comments and stories.  Thanks for reading.


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View Comments

  • Awesome information! My family and I are big skiers, we live in Vermont and make 2-3 small ski trips on the east coast each winter and also a big trip to Colorado, Wyoming or Utah every year. Both the Ikon and the Epic offer some amazing discounts. However, it's hard to keep up with each pass, they do constantly change each year, with ski resorts joining or leaving, it can be complicated. This year, we are planning on Killington and Stratton and a trip out west to Copper Mountain so I think we will be purchasing the Ikon Base Pass. This sport is definitely not cheap or convenient but these bundled ski passes do make it easier and more affordable. Thanks for helping to clarify the details.

    • Hi Mary,
      Thanks so much for your comments and I am glad you found this article about Ikon vs. Epic Ski Pass helpful. Yes, deciding which ski pass is best can be complicated. You have to ask a lot of questions and double check that the dates you will be visiting each ski resort are not during the resort's blackout dates. And also keep in mind that some resorts limit the amount of days you can ski at them. But once you have all the details nailed down, these ski passes can be a great tool for getting on the mountain. Good luck and have fun skiing!

  • Great article about the differences between the Ikon and Epic ski passes. It really does all depend on where you live and ski when deciding which pass to take advantage of.  I have lived and worked in Winter Park for the last two years and used the Ikon Pass but now I am moving to Vail, so I expect I will be purchasing the Epic Pass - now I just need to decide if I am going to buy the full Epic Pass or the Local Epic Pass.  Great read, lots of info - thanks so much.

  • I love your review of these two ski passes as I am planning a holiday with a ski adventure to Japan but I am living in Europe. I think I will invest in the Epic pass because of the amazing deals that I will get at their ski resorts in Japan, North America and Europe. 

    I really love the Epic Pass additional perks especially the EpicMix app that will help to track and capture my skiing activities. I will also consider enrolling in the Epic Club. 

    Thanks for this detailed information. I love it.

    • Hi Chris so glad you found the article Ikon vs. Epic Pass useful.  Yes the Epic Pass is very versatile and great for skiers and snowboarders who plan to ski in the ski resorts of Western United States, Europe, and Japan.  The EpicMix is a really interesting and entertaining.  To find out more about the EpicMix app and how to use it read the article "What is Epic Mix? 10 Things You Must Know."   Thanks again and enjoy the Epic Pass this ski season!


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