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I don’t know when it started happening, exactly. Sometime in the megapass hatchling era, when Epic was knotting together far-flung resorts in Colorado and California, the indies began huddling up. “Well we can’t give our passholders free tickets to Vail or Heavenly, but how about Loveland? Or Bogus Basin? Or Great Divide? You give our passholders three, and we’ll give the same back to yours.”
Over time, these things spiraled. Partners multiplied. To the point that some of these passes began to resemble second-tier Epic or Ikon Passes, stuffed with more variety and more days of skiing than any individual could consume over the course of a single winter. At this point, nearly every mid-sized to large ski area in the country that is not aligned with one of the national passes has forged reciprocal partnerships with at least a few others. There are exceptions: Wolf Creek and Mt. Rose continue to stand alone. Others keep their circles very tight: Mt. Baker offers a three-day exchange with fellow bomber Mount Hood Meadows. Whitefish partners with Red Lodge, Loveland, Great Divide, and Meadows. But many single-mountain passes now act as legitimate alternatives to the national passes, with areas of regional density, compelling destination options, and highly approachable price points. And, unlike an Indy or Mountain Collective pass, each of them is a true season pass.
Most “comprehensive pass charts” (and there are many), focus exclusively on the name-brand national pass coalitions: Epic, Ikon, Indy, and Mountain Collective. With most major-mountain season pass suites live for 2022-23, it was time to take an inventory of who had laid out the most compelling offerings. That list is below.
A few notes: I am only concerned with free days, not discounted or lodging-required deals (sorry Grand Targhee). A few of the mountains below have not yet released 2022-23 pass details, but they have offered similar products for many years, so I feel comfortable including them on this list. Also beware that these deals change a lot. New Partners pop up all the time. It’s almost impossible to keep track of it all. Your best resource for this is The Storm’s Pass Tracker 5001, where I track very ski season pass in the United States.
Finally, many of the ski areas below are part of the Powder Alliance or Freedom Pass coalitions, each of which grant passholders three days at each partner resort. I’ll spell these rosters out once, rather than listing them with each resort below:
Powder Alliance: Eaglecrest, Mission Ridge, White Pass, Mt. Hood Ski Bowl, Timberline, China Peak, Mountain High, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Dodge Ridge, Blacktail, Bogus Basin, Loveland, Silver Mountain, Angel Fire, Castle Mountain, Marmot Basin, Kiroro (Japan)
Freedom Pass: Greek Peak, Black Mountain (NH), Whaleback, McIntyre, Lost Valley, Yawgoo, The Rock Snow Park, Nordic Mountain, Little Switzerland, Mont du Lac, Bogus Basin, Cherry Peak, Eagle Point, Ski Cooper, Sunlight, Red River, Snow Valley, Masella (Spain)
Many of the ski areas below are also members of the Indy Pass, which passholders can add on for $189. The coalition’s 82 partners are too numerous to itemize here, but Indy’s website is always up to date.
The notion of using these single-mountain passes as a stand-in for national megapasses can be, I’ll admit, a bit of a dirty game. Many of these resorts mail passes, so there is nothing stopping someone who lives in, say, New York, from buying a $299 (last year’s price) Ski Cooper pass and using it three times each at Holiday Valley and Greek Peak. But, as skiers, it’s not our job to protect ski areas from their own decisions. When Whitefish partnered with Mount Bohemia a few years back, granting Boho’s $99 passholders three free lift tickets, Whitefish inserted a protection clause to keep locals from using the pass as a de-facto three-pack: Montana residents were not eligible for the free tickets.
For now, we’re living in a freewheeling era of pseudo megapasses. They’re sitting there, waiting for you. Go get them:
Overview: 2,210-foot vertical drop, 1,800 skiable acres, 11 lifts (1 high-speed quad, 3 quads, 3 triples, 2 doubles, 2 carpets), 94 runs, 422 inches of average annual snowfall
Current pass price: $499 - visit their pass site
Next deadline: N/A
Do they mail them?: No
Pass coalitions: Powder Alliance
Reciprocal partners: Three days each Whitefish, Monarch, Powderhorn CO, Sunlight, Purgatory, Ski Cooper, Red Lodge, Schweitzer, Brian Head, Brundage, Nordic Valley, Pajarito, Sipapu, Hesperus, Arizona Snowbowl, and Snow King
Why it’s a great deal: Seated on the east-facing edge of the Continental Divide, hovering over I-70 and the Eisenhower Tunnel, Loveland may be the ultimate victim of Colorado bias. Through the tunnel lay the monsters of Epic – Breckenridge (3,398-foot vertical drop, 2,908 skiable acres), Keystone (3,128/3,148), Vail (3,450/5,317), Beaver Creek (3,340/1,815) – plus Copper Mountain (2,738/2,507). In comparative terms, Loveland’s 2,210 feet of vertical and 1,800 acres seem positively Midwestern. The 10,800-foot base doesn’t help – the oxygen can be a bit thin for the weekenders. But 1,800 acres is plenty big for most of us, and Loveland’s long season – often October to May – means you can ski this pass down to $25 a day without much effort. Loveland has also established one of the strongest partner networks in the country, with the Schweitzer and Whitefish days a particular treat. Combine those with days at Powder Alliance member Silver Mountain, and you have a very nice Northern Rockies run to break up the season.
Pairs well with: Epic Local or Ikon Base. Use Loveland as your weekend and holiday hideaway, and range more broadly when you can sneak out midweek.
Overview: 2,010-foot vertical drop, 730 skiable acres, 3 lifts (1 triple, 2 doubles), 67 runs, 250 inches average annual snowfall
Current pass price: $499 - visit their pass site
Next deadline: May 31
Do they mail them?: Yes, with a $10 surcharge last season, which “may increase for next season,” according to Sunlight Marketing and Sales Director Troy Hawks
Pass coalitions: Indy Pass, Freedom Pass
3 days each at Great Divide, Snow King, Loveland, Monarch, Lee Canyon, 5-Berg (Germany), Kiroro (Japan)
1 day at Bluebird Backcountry
Expect at least some of these 2021-22 partners to return: 3 days each at Lookout Pass, Powderhorn, Red River, Diamond Peak, Brundage, Snow King, Snowy Range, Hogadon Basin, Eaglecrest, Eagle Point, and Wachusett.
Why it’s a great deal: Like many western ski aeras, Sunlight is just a little too close to something big time. That something big time, in this case, is Aspen. Most skiers are happy to give Sunlight a head pat and an attaboy as they blow through Glenwood Springs on their way up highway 82. But, as with most ski areas on this list, what you surrender in sheer size and lift infrastructure you make up for with fewer crowds, a smaller pricetag (Aspen’s 2022-23 season passes start at $2,479), and parking at the base of the lifts. You can roam locally, too. Sunlight is one of five Colorado ski areas that all offer three days at the other: Powderhorn, Monarch, Ski Cooper, and Loveland are the others. But the Great Divide, Lookout Pass, Diamond Peak, and Snow King days – should Sunlight renew all those partnerships – would pair well with a big-time run out to Big Sky, Tahoe, or Jackson Hole.
Pairs well with: Full Ikon Pass, for seven Aspen days, early- and late-season access to Arapahoe Basin, that six-hour run west to the Wasatch, and the big-timers I mentioned above.
Overview: 1,162-foot vertical drop, 800 skiable acres, 7 lifts (1 quad, 4 doubles, 1 carpet, 1 ski school lift), 63 runs, 350 inches average annual snowfall
Current pass price: $569 - visit their pass site
Next deadline: N/A
Do they mail them?: Yes
Pass coalitions: None
Reciprocal partners: While 2022-23 partners are not yet confirmed, the list will likely resemble this season’s, which included three days each at Angel Fire, Arapahoe Basin, Arizona Snowbowl, Bogus Basin, Brian Head, Bridger Bowl, Brundage, Ski Cooper, Copper Mountain, Eaglecrest, Hesperus, Loveland, Nordic Valley, Pajarito, Powderhorn (CO), Purgatory, Red River, Sipapu, Ski Apache, Snow King, Sunlight, 5-Berg (Germany), and Masella (Spain)
Why it’s a great deal: Monarch floats alone, away from the I-70 beehive, close, really, to almost nothing at all. The reciprocals, however, are fantastic: the three days each at Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, Bridger Bowl, Purgatory, and Arizona Snowbowl are, by themselves, enough to make this a mini destination megapass. The Red River, Ski Apache, Angel Fire, Sipapu, and Pajarito days would make an incredible weeklong New Mexico ski tour. Monarch itself is one of the smallest not-a-ropetow-bump ski areas in Colorado, but there’s plenty you can do with nearly 1,200 feet of vert and 350 inches of snow – especially when the alternative is the I-70 deathmarch, satellite parking lots, and liftlines that resemble one of those National Geographic drone shots of 100,000 migrating caribou.
Pairs well with: Wolf Creek Super Saver pass. Wolf Creek is an insane and irrational place, topping 400 inches of average annual snowfall. The word is out, and this little joint two hours south of Monarch can justify a season pass that’s creeping toward $1,000. The Super Saver version blacks out holidays and midwinter weekends (41 days in all), but ran closer to $700 last season. 2022-23 passes are not yet available, but, assuming the pass suite remains relatively intact, an unlimited Monarch pass would act as a really nice use-it-whenever complement to the more restricted Wolf Creek pass.
SKI COOPER, COLORADO
Overview: 1,200-foot vertical drop, 470 skiable acres, 5 lifts (1 double, 1 triple, 1 T-bar, 1 platter, 1 carpet), 59 runs, 250 inches average annual snowfall
Current pass price: On sale July 1 – debuted at $299 for 2021-22 season. Visit their pass site
Next deadline: N/A – early-bird sale typically runs through July 31
Do they mail them?: Yes
Pass coalitions: Freedom Pass
Reciprocal partners: While the 2022-23 partner list is not live yet, Ski Cooper’s Senior Director of Mountain Operations Patrick Torsell posted on Twitter yesterday that the ski area had locked in four new partners for next season, and that they were located in California, Wisconsin, Michigan, and South Dakota. He also said the resort was “working on another good PA partner to make up for the three lost to Vail.” Those three are, of course, Seven Springs, Laurel, and Hidden Valley. Utah anchor Powder Mountain is also shedding all reciprocals to work exclusively with Indy Pass. Otherwise, expect the bulk of last year’s partners to return: three days each at Monarch, Loveland, Powderhorn CO, Eaglecrest, Mt. Ashland, Diamond Peak (four days), Lee Canyon, Mt. Baldy, Brundage, Pebble Creek, Soldier Mountain, Great Divide, Lookout Pass, Sleeping Giant, Snow King, Snowy Range, Angel Fire, Ski Apache, Seven Oaks, Buck Hill, Spirit Mountain, Mont Du Lac, Mont Ripley, Big Powderhorn MI, Pine Mountain, Indianhead/Blackjack, Crystal MI, Tussey, Shawnee PA, Plattekill, Holiday Valley, plus the Freedom Pass ski areas outlined above.
Why it’s a great deal: This is the king. In the reciprocal pass game, no one has built anything that compares to Ski Cooper’s sprawling, nationwide network of partners. Three days at each. Almost no blackouts. As I wrote last year, the coalition is broad enough, and the access is consistent enough, that this pass acts as the Indy Pass’ closest national competitor. In select markets – the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, western Pennsylvania – the ski area density was high enough, and the price was low enough, to make this product appeal to skiers who would never get within 1,000 miles of Ski Cooper. The mountain itself is one of just two chairlift operations in Colorado that have no snowmaking (Monarch is the other), and with a 10,500-foot base elevation, it doesn’t really need it. The double-diamond-laced Tennessee Creek Basin expansion notwithstanding, this is a cruiser’s redoubt, an incredible family mountain hidden in the twin shadows of Vail and Copper mountains.
Pairs well with: Lots of compelling options here. A full Epic Pass ($841) gets you in the front door at Vail and Beaver Creek while the crowds are elsewhere, along with early- and late-season access to Keystone and Breck. An Ikon Base (which, at $769, is not much cheaper than a full Epic), gets you unlimited Copper and five days for early- or late-season A-Basin. If you’re in Michigan’s UP or northern Wisconsin, this could match really well with the $99 Mount Bohemia pass (see below), to fill in the gaps between runs north to the mecca.
LEE CANYON, NEVADA
Overview: 860-foot vertical drop, 195 skiable acres, 3 lifts, 30 runs, 129 inches average annual snowfall
Current pass price: $509 - visit their pass site
Next deadline: July 15
Do they mail them?: No
Pass coalitions: None
Reciprocal partners: 3 days each at Eagle Point, Snow King, Diamond Peak, Pine Creek, Great Divide, Mont du Lac, Little Switzerland, Nordic Mountain, The Rock Snowpark, Mount Bohemia, Mt. Shasta, Ski Cooper, Mt. Ashland, Mt. Baldy, Mt. Spokane, Plattekill, Whitecap, Powderhorn CO, Sunlight, Soldier Mountain, Bogus Basin
Why it’s a great deal: Powdr Corp, the Park City-based giant that owns Snowbird, Copper, Killington, and Mount Bachelor, is a perplexing beast. Sometimes, it does the dumbest, most alienating things imaginable, like make Killington close in April or announce a super-special rich-people lift line six months after its $1,000-plus season passes go on sale. Other times, it feels like the most skier-friendly Big Co. in skiing, joining the Ikon Pass, keeping its mountains open well into spring (after the Killington debacle), and investing heavily into lift and snowmaking infrastructure. Lee Canyon is another example of Powdr done right: the Very Important People in Park City have either allowed their Nevada bump to build one of the most extensive reciprocal networks in North America, or they haven’t noticed. For whatever reason, Lee Canyon did not get invited to the Ikon Pass party. So the ski area built this coalition instead, giving its passholders plenty of options: Mt. Baldy is the raddest of the Southern California ski areas, and Diamond Peak is a nice way to get lost in frenetic Tahoe. But with partners all over the west, skiers in isolated Las Vegas can plan little getaways all season long to Colorado or the upper Rockies, and fill in the days between with laps up Lee Canyon’s two branching alpha lifts and the hike-in radness above.
Pairs well with: An Indy Pass, whose network of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming ski areas – along with Snow Valley in Southern California – complements Lee Canyon’s reciprocal network nicely. Although I imagine most Las Vegas-based skiers are scooping up a full Ikon Pass and jumping on the hour and 15-minute flight to Salt Lake or Reno, where powder is stacked to the stratosphere.
BOGUS BASIN, IDAHO
Overview: 1,800-foot vertical drop, 2,600 skiable acres, 11 lifts (4 high-speed quads, 3 doubles, 4 carpets), 53 runs, 200-250 inches of average annual snowfall
Current pass price: $629 ($549 without reciprocals; was $479 with reciprocals in early “flash sale”) - visit their pass site
Next deadline: N/A
Do they mail them?: Yes, if the online waiver is signed and the passholder has a photo on file
Pass coalitions: Powder Alliance, Freedom Pass
Reciprocal partners: 3 days each at Bridger Bowl, Diamond Peak, Great Divide, Lee Canyon, Monarch, Mount Bohemia, Mt. Ashland, Pebble Creek, Powderhorn CO, Seven Oaks, Sleeping Giant, Soldier Mountain, Spirit Mountain, Tamarack
Why it’s a great deal: This is one where it’s vital to get in early… and we’ve blown right past early. Even at $150 premium, Bogus Basin’s pass delivers plenty of value. It is the only mountain that is a member of both the Powder Alliance and the Freedom Pass, delivering 100-ish potential bonus days of skiing on those partnerships alone. The reciprocal partnerships outside of those coalitions provide another 45 days. Especially valuable are three days at Tamarack, the burgeoning comeback story just two and a half hours up the road. Bridger Bowl and Diamond Peak make nice regional reach destinations for a long weekend. Bogus Basin itself, seated in the mountains just 18 miles north of downtown Boise, may be the most substantial urban ski resort in the country: 2,600 skiable acres is big by just about anyone’s definition. Add in four high-speed quads, and you have a hell of a ski area for an insanely reasonable price.
Pairs well with: An Indy Pass, which adds two days each at big boys Brundage and Powder Mountain, along with smaller Soldier Mountain and Pomerelle.
Overview: 1,921-foot vertical drop, 1,920 skiable acres, 6 lifts (1 high-speed quad, 4 triples, 1 carpet), 70 runs, 320 inches average annual snowfall
Current pass price: $599 (early-bird price was $499) - visit their pass site
Next deadline: April 30
Do they mail them?: Yes, if waiver is complete and updated photo is on file with the mountain
Pass coalitions: Indy Pass
Reciprocal partners: While 2022-23 partners will be finalized over the summer, the list will likely resemble the 2021-22 roster, which included:
5 days at Red Lodge
4 days at Diamond Peak
3 days each at Loveland, Monarch, Mount Bohemia, Snow King, Ski Cooper, Sunlight, Mount Hood Meadows, Beaver Mountain
2 days Homewood
1 unguided day Silverton
Why it’s a great deal: Idaho and Montana are filled with places like Brundage. Big snowfall? Check. Big vertical? Check. Big skiable acreage? Check. Low prices? Check. People? Where the hell are all the people? They’re in Colorado, they’re at Mammoth, they’re lined up on the access road to Crystal or waiting for the shuttlebus at Park City. Brundage, despite its steady, low-key growth over the past two decades, has remained comfortably unknown even as it’s joined the Indy Pass. Perhaps because of that, the pass has remained quite affordable, and it comes loaded with some vacation-worthy reciprocals. Mount Hood Meadows can certainly eat up three days. Diamond Peak/Homewood or Cooper/Sunlight/Loveland/Silverton would make a great Tahoe or Colorado run, and the Red Lodge deal is generous and inviting.
Pairs well with: Ikon Base Pass, which could add to any of the trips above: combine Meadows with Bachelor or mix up your Tahoe and Colorado trips with stops at Palisades Tahoe, Copper or Winter Park. Salt Lake – and access to Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton – is just seven hours south. A simpler, more practical add-on is an Indy Pass, which is just $189 to add onto the Brundage pass and tacks on two days to nearby Tamarack, plus plentiful options within a six- to eight-hour drive.
GREAT DIVIDE, MONTANA
Overview: 1,500-foot vertical drop, 1,600 skiable acres, 6 lifts (5 doubles, 1 carpet), 140 runs, 180 inches of average annual snowfall
Current pass price: $525 (early-bird price was $300) - visit their pass site
Next deadline: N/A
Do they mail them?: Yes, upon special request
Pass coalitions: None
Reciprocal partners: 3 days each at Whitefish, Mt. Spokane, Snow King, Bogus Basin, Mount Bohemia, Lee Canyon, Powderhorn Mountain, Ski Cooper, Sunlight
Why it’s a great deal: I’ll admit I’m a little bit dumbstruck right now, looking at this trail map and trying to process how this is not a major ski area. Just nine miles off Interstate 15 and 27 miles from downtown Helena, with clearly divided zones of green, blue, and black terrain, this chunk of Rocky Mountain meat has all the ingredients to go big time. Except: the fleet of Riblet doubles. Except: the paltry (by Rocky Mountain standards) snowfall. Except: I’m not sure where that 140 trails number comes from, as the trailmap shows maybe half that. The resort does have relatively new owners, so who knows where it’s headed. For now, the pass gets you a monstrous amount of skiing, particularly if you snagged it during the $300 early-bird sale. And the reciprocals are quite strong: I included this for the three Whitefish days alone.
Pairs well with: Full Ikon Pass. While Helena is not particularly close to any other major ski hubs, twice-per-day direct flights to Salt Lake City put Ikon’s absolutely crushing Utah lineup (Snowbird, Alta, Solitude, Brighton, Deer Valley, Snowbasin) in your lap.
MOUNT ASHWABAY, WISCONSIN
Overview: 317-foot vertical drop, 65 skiable acres, 2 lifts, 13 runs, 120 inches average annual snowfall (it’s in a lake-effect zone)
Current pass price: $192 ($136 “first-time individual”) - visit their pass site
Next deadline: N/A
Do they mail them?: No
Pass coalitions: None
Reciprocal partners: 1 day each at Mont Ripley, Big Powderhorn, Chester Bowl, Mt. Zion, Mont Du Lac, Porcupine Mountains
Why it’s a great deal: This is the definition of a community bump that will pound out lifelong skiers. And one of the best ways to nudge bugged-up newbs into the zeitgeist is to telegraph the adventure and variety of the sport to them via tickets to neighboring ski areas. Unlike many reciprocal programs, this dirt-cheap pass delivers tickets that its passholders can actually use with no more effort than setting an early alarm clock. Big Powderhorn, Zion, Chester Bowl, Mont du Lac, and Porcupine Mountains sit two hours or less away. The drive to Mont Ripley is a bit more than three hours. Crush midweek hot laps here and venture out on the weekends or holidays – ski areas this far north in the Midwest are rarely crowded even when conditions are prime.
Pairs well with: A couple options: an Indy Pass is the obvious choice, as Ashwabay sits equidistant from Granite Peak and Lutsen, two of the Midwest’s largest and best ski areas. The adventurous could also pick up the $99 Bohemia season pass and stop off at Porcupine, Ripley, or Powderhorn on the four-hour drive north.
MONT DU LAC, WISCONSIN
Overview: 320-foot vertical drop, 10 skiable acres, 3 lifts, 8 runs
Current pass price: $99.99 - visit their pass site
Next deadline: N/A
Do they mail them?: Yes (resort is also developing an “electronic pass” that they hope to have ready for the 2022-23 season)
Pass coalitions: Freedom Pass
Reciprocal partners: Mont du Lac’s reciprocal partner list is nearly impossible to track, as it seems to change every week. We are likely far from seeing a final 2022-23 list, but this 2021-22 list will give you a sense of what that $100 will get you:
Unlimited access to Chester Bowl, Coffee Mill, Mt. Itasca
4 days at Beech Mountain
3 days each at Howelsen Hill, Mt. Crescent, Lee Canyon, Ski Apache, Mt. Spokane, Plattekill, Shawnee (PA), Hogadon Basin, Pine Creek
2 days each at Crystal (MI), Mont Ripley, Pine Mountain, Powder Ridge, Mount Ski Gull, Mt. Ashwabay, Great Bear
1 day each at Song, Snow Ridge, Swain, Willard
Why it’s a great deal: It’s hard to even comprehend what’s going on here. A couple seasons ago, some little outpost that’s remote even by Wisconsin standards started appearing on reciprocal pass pages all over the country: Ski Cooper, Sunlight, Red River, Greek Peak, Beech. “We believe it is the best value reciprocal pass in all of skiing,” Mont du Lac General Manager Rick McCurley told me via email. It’s hard to argue with him. Even if you never get within two states of Wisconsin, one day of skiing off this thing will more or less pay for the pass. Most people who don’t live within 20 miles of this ski area probably have little interest in seeking it out, but just about any adventurous skier would be interested in this pass, which costs roughly the same as one day of super-special rich-guy add-on access in Snowbird’s one-percenter lanes.
Pairs well with: Pretty much anything. For the cross-country rambler or completist, this pass fills some holes that no other multi-mountain pass touches: Great Bear, South Dakota; Beech Mountain, North Carolina; Mt. Spokane, Washington; Coffee Mill and Mt. Itasca, Minnesota; Howelsen Hill, Colorado.
MOUNT BOHEMIA, MICHIGAN
Overview: 900-foot vertical drop, 585 skiable acres, 2 lifts, 95 runs, 273 inches of average annual snowfall
Current pass price: N/A (has been $99 for many years, and is really $129 after various fees; two-year pass is $162; lifetime pass is $1,299) - visit their pass site
Next deadline: Anticipated 2022 sales dates: Nov. 23 to Dec. 3
Do they mail them: No, you receive a digital pass with a QR code
Pass coalitions: None
Reciprocal partners: Bohemia tends to release its reciprocal partners one-by-one in late summer, but last year’s lineup was pretty strong:
3 days each at Mission Ridge, Brundage, Great Divide, Pine Creek, White Pine, Sleeping Giant, Mt. Spokane, Eagle Point
2 days each at Hurricane Ridge, Porcupine Mountains, Bogus Basin, Crystal Mountain (MI), Lost Trail
Why it’s a great deal: If it weren’t for Vail Resorts’ $145 Military Epic Pass, this would be the best season pass deal in skiing. Silverton excepted, Bohemia is the most unique ski area in the country. Hanging off the top of the Keweenaw Peninsula and exposed to Lake Superior’s lake effect dump truck, Bohemia is a wild sprawling labyrinth of free-falling cliffs and glades. There is no grooming, no snowmaking, no green-circle terrain. A one-day lift ticket this season is $85 and Saturdays are restricted to passholders only. So everyone buys this pass. Everyone. Then there are the reciprocals, which tend to change considerably from one season to the next. For Michigan skiers, Mission Ridge, Brundage, Bogus Basin, Lost Trail, or Great Divide offer skiing on a captivating scale, and are worth a journey west if one can get over the lack of brand-name cache (many can’t). Past partners have included Silverton and Whitefish – you never really know what the crew up at Boho will shoot at you, though Crystal and Porcupine have been staples on the past for several years.
Pairs well with: If you live in Southeast Michigan, Wisconsin Resorts’ six-mountain pass ($620 for the 2021-22 ski season), gives you three options for weekday turns – Pine Knob, Mt. Holly, and Alpine Valley – to fill in the days between Bohemia runs. That group also includes the excellent Searchmont, which was the Midwest’s go-to radster before Bohemia beat it up and took its lunch money around 20 years ago. If you’re on the Wisconsin side, Milwaukee-based skiers should consider a Little Switzerland or Rock Snowpark pass, which provides night turns seven days a week and an Indy Pass add-on option.
The reciprocal game is broad and varied, and plenty of additional resorts have padded together nice offerings for their passholders. Here are a dozen of them:
Powderhorn, Colorado: We already missed the $379 early-bird pass window, but Colorado’s western-most resort is still a bargain at $479. Reciprocals include three days each at the standard Sunlight-Monarch-Loveland-Cooper Colorado circuit (Powderhorn, with 1,650 vertical feet and 600 skiable acres, is similar in size to these four), plus some compelling goodies like Mt. Waterman, the lost boy of Southern California skiing. Visit their pass site for details.
Silverton, Colorado: Most of the time, Silverton is the closest thing you’ll get to heliskiing off a chairlift: skier numbers are limited, guides are required, and avy equipment is a must. In the spring, when snowpack stabilizes, Silverton open the chair to skiers willing to roll without the guide. This short window, known as the unguided season, stretches a maximum of 24 days. A pass is just $199, and for an extra $99, the pass includes three days each at Sundance, Brundage, Red Lodge, and Eagle Crest, as well as two days each at Monarch and A-Basin. Silverton mails the passes upon request. Visit their pass site for details on 2023 unguided dates and reciprocals.
Cherry Peak, Utah: While the reciprocals are not amazing with this pass, the price is: just $265. This is a Freedom Pass mountain, and, while next season’s partners are not live yet, last year’s included Diamond Peak, Sunlight, and Snow King, among others. Watch their pass site for details. They mail the passes for a $3.99 fee.
Lookout Pass, Idaho/Montana: Like Cherry Peak, this pass is notable mostly for its very approachable price point. It’s just $379 for new passholders, and $335 for renewals. The reciprocals are all a bit distant (everything from Lookout Pass is a bit distant), but they would make for a fun road trip: Bogus Basin, Mission Ridge, Sunlight, and Ski Cooper among them. Visit their pass site for updates.
Red Lodge, Montana: At $849, this pass is far pricier than anything else on this list. In fact, it costs more than an Epic Pass (a Red Lodge-only version is $699). But it’s a terrific mountain, with two high-speed quads, a 2,400-foot vertical drop, and 1,635 skiable acres. Passholders get unlimited access to Tahoe gem Homewood (which shares a management company with Red Lodge), five days at Whitefish, and three days each at Loveland, Brundage, Red River, and Diamond Peak, plus an unguided day at Silverton. They don’t ship passes, so you’ll have to pick it up at Red Lodge. Visit their pass site for details.
Eaglecrest, Alaska: Even by the standards of sprawling Alaska, Eaglecrest is remote. There are no roads there: you enter Juneau by boat of by plane. However, the 1,540-vertical-foot ski area has scraped together one of the broadest reciprocal coalitions in skiing, with three days each at 17 different ski areas last year, plus Powder Alliance membership. Pricing is not live for 2022-23, but the pass debuted for this season at $524. Check in on their pass site for updates. Given the remoteness of this place, check to see if they mail the passes before you buy one.
Bluewood, Washington: With a 1,125-foot vertical drop and 400 skiable acres, Bluewood isn’t a large ski area by Washington standards. Compared to the monster, Seattle-adjacent trio of Crystal, Summit at Snoqualmie, and Stevens Pass, Bluewood is lost in the wilds of the state’s western quarter. But the ski area’s $449 season pass includes something that many partnership-loaded passes don’t: reciprocals skiers will actually use. While they aren’t all necessarily close, they are within Washington or neighboring Oregon (Bluewood practically straddles the states’ border): Mission Ridge, 49 Degrees North, Anthony Lakes, Loup Loup, Mt. Ashland, and White Pass (and Mount Shasta Ski Park, in Northern California). Visit their season pass page for details.
Seven Oaks, Iowa: Like all ski areas in Iowa, Seven Oaks is pretty contained, with a 275-foot vertical drop and a handful of lifts serving 11 runs. It is an Indy Pass member, however, and passholders receive three days each at Ski Cooper, Powder Ridge (MN), Great Bear, and Mont du Lac. At $256, it’s a great deal. Visit their pass site for details.
Big Powderhorn, Michigan: Like Bluewood, Powderhorn’s pass partnerships are highly useful to its passholders: two days each at Mount Bohemia, and one day each at Marquette Mountain, Mount Ashwabay, Mont Ripley, and Pine Mountain, all but one of which are fellow Yoopers (residents of the UP [the Upper Peninsula]). For the wide-ranging, Powderhorn is also an Indy Pass partner. Another really cool perk: each $479 adult pass includes a free pass for children age 7 to 12 (kids 6 and under ski free).
Pine Mountain, Michigan: At $249, this is one of the cheapest season passes in the country. They push a long season (they’re still open today), and have a nice 500-foot vertical drop and three chairlifts. Again, the reciprocals are mostly local and useful – one day each at Marquette, Big Powderhorn, Ripley, and Ashwabay – but also include reach goals, with three days each at Colorado’s Ski Cooper and Powderhorn. Visit their pass site for details.
Shawnee Mountain, Pennsylvania: Reciprocals have yet to really take hold in the Northeast, most likely because the megapass was late to arrive here. The Ikon Pass only dropped in 2018. The Epic Pass landed a year earlier, but didn’t take off in earnest until Vail bought Peak Resorts in 2019. There has been less urgency for independents to band together, and many of the large or mid-sized mountains left off the Epic or Ikon passes have joined the Indy Pass instead. Shawnee was one of those, but the ski area began experimenting with reciprocals last season anyway, signing deals with Ski Cooper, Mont du Lac, Ski Big Bear, and Seven Springs. While the 700-footer will lose Seven Springs next season, Shawnee Marketing Director Rachel Wyckoff told me that they had already reached agreements with three, yet-to-be-announced partners for the 2022-23 season. Next season’s passes are not on sale yet, but last year’s debuted at just $400. Details will go live on their pass site in “June or July,” Wyckoff said.
Snow Ridge, New York: In my recent podcast interview with Snow Ridge General Manager Nick Mir, he detailed his earnest reach into the world of reciprocals: three days at Plattekill, “any day” access to Swain, and weekday access to Hunt Hollow. These are nice, regionally relevant bonus days for Snow Ridge passholders, who already feast within one of the largest and most consistent snowfall zones in the Northeast. 2022-23 season passes for this little mountain that skis big start at $400. Snow Ridge is an Indy Pass partner, so you can also pick up the add-on to make this a super-pass. View their pass site for details.
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Great analysis. I'll throw in one more for the mix for Southwest skiers. Silverton's early deal on their unguided season is $200 and you can throw in $40 more for a heli run. For an extra $100 you get a decent selection partners, with the most realistic being Monarch and A-bay. This is a great supplemental pass for anyone buying in SW Colorado, Northern NM, or general road trippers who are interested in driving very far from anywhere to get to Silverton.
Separately from the above, speaking as a Taos local, we've got some interesting options. If you're here for the skiing you're buying the Taos pass and probably the Ikon base. For your supplemental you can pick MCP Power pass (Sipapu and Pajarito), Ski Santa Fe (joint pass which also works at Sandia Peak in Abq) or you can do some alliance which gives you days at both Red River and Angel Fire (most likely candidate being Ski Cooper). Other pass options would be Full Epic if you're planning a Telluride trip and / or you want to ski the I 70 corridor for some reason (CB is basically Colorado Taos so not a huge value add). Silverton's unguided pass is a strong contender if you're only planning one big trip and / or you have Ikon base. Finally, Wolf Creek season pass is pricy but basically acts as insurance for a low tide year. I'm still personally deciding but it's fun for me to think through these things and hit my target cost per day. If you're reading this article you're probably in the same boat.
Sunlight's trail map is gorgeous!