Is this the year you are going to travel around the U.S. to your bucket list of ski resorts that are Epic Pass destinations? Have you sold everything except the van and the dog? If that sounds like you, you might want a Vail Epic Pass to hit the slopes this winter.
Read on to learn about the epic pass destinations, buddy tickets, Epic pass cost and even how to get a refund in this epic guide.
What Is the Vail Epic Pass?
The Vail Epic Pass is the gateway to Vail ski resorts. You better be ready to do a bit of traveling over the winter season as there is unlimited access to the Vail resorts and no blackout dates.
If traveling isn’t in your plans for the winter then there is still the Vail Epic Local Pass and Epic Day Pass, both of which we will explain here in a little bit.
The Vail Epic pass provides access to over 40 resorts in North America, including all your favorite Vail resorts. For ski bums who can afford the Epic Pass and want to ride at Vail ski resorts, it is a no-brainer but there are some drawbacks to the Epic Pass.
As with anything good, a lot of people get the Epic Pass. This can mean:
- Busy lift lines
- Crowded slopes
- Packed lodges
That doesn’t even take into account the extremely high food prices at Vail resorts. Sure, you get a little discount on food with the Epic Pass but it still doesn’t help the wallet too much.
The best way to avoid the crowded slopes and busy lift lines is to go during the week if you can. Skiing and snowboarding on non-peak times can actually make the famously “oversold” Epic Pass, enjoyable.
It’s no secret that year after year, there are complaints that Vail is selling too many Epic Passes. The only way around it is to try to ride weekdays and knowing what you are signing up for at some of the most popular ski resorts on the list; long lift lines.
How Much Does the Epic Pass Cost?
The Epic Pass cost goes up the closer it gets to the season. Vail loves to push up the prices and add little bonuses to get people to buy early. Early in the season, if you bought an Epic Pass, you would get 10 buddy lift tickets. Then it drops to 2 buddy lift tickets with the Epic Pass. Finally, Vail gets rid of the buddy tickets as the sale goes on before the ski season.
There are three different Epic Passes and their cost is as follows:
- Epic Pass cost: $841
- Epic Local Pass cost: $626
- Epic 4-day Pass cost: $347
The Epic Pass cost certainly isn’t cheap for the season but if you plan to visit a lot of Vail resorts, it can pay off. Compare the Epic Pass cost of $841 to a single Vail lift ticket of $170 a day and you would break even on your Epic Pass after just 5 days on the slopes.
Clearly, it doesn’t take a lot of skiing to break even on the Epic Pass, which is one of the reasons so many people buy it.
Doing a Payment Plan to Get the Pass
If the Epic Pass cost seems astronomically high to you then you can take advantage of Epic Flexpay. It is Vail’s way to off $0 down and no interest till September of the year.
By using Flexpay, you can break the Epic Pass down into more manageable payments of 3 months,6 months,9 months or 12 months.
So what does that look like? Well if you get into the Epic Pass for $841 then you can make 12 payments of $71. If you cancel your Netflix then you’ll be on a start to be able to make those monthly payments.
Don’t Overlook the Discounts
Still think the Epic Pass cost is expensive. You might not even need to pay the full price. A few options for Epic Pass discounts are as follows:
- Epic Pass Student Discount: The student discount for the Epic Pass knocks a couple of hundred dollars off the Epic Pass if you go with the Epic Local College Pass. Alternatively, Vail has specific Local College Passes for many areas that are even cheaper.
- Epic Pass Military Discount: It’s great to see that Vail makes skiing and snowboarding accessible to the military with steep discounts on the Epic Pass by offering the Epic Military Passes. Full verification is required for active, retired or veteran military members. This is one of the cheapest ways to get an Epic Pass if you meet the requirements.
The final noteworthy discount is the “Turn in Your Ticket” discount. It’s one that many people overlook. You can reduce the cost of your pass up to $100 if you skied/rode in the last 48 hours at one of Vail’s owned & operated North American resorts. You have to call 970-754-0005 to use the discount.
Epic Pass Mountains List
When you get down to the real nitty-gritty of the Epic Pass, the two most important factors are the Epic Pass Mountains List and the Epic Pass cost. We already covered the cost, so here are all the mountains you could be riding on the Epic Pass broken down by region.
East Coast Epic Pass Destinations
Some of the our favorite Epic Pass mountains are on the east coast. Make sure you check out the resort guides on a few of these before visiting and to help make your decision-
Central Epic Pass Destinations
There isn’t a lot of Epic Pass destinations in the middle of the U.S. You better be ready to drive or if you go with the full Epic Pass. Otherwise, the local pass might be a better option for you for resorts like Afton Alps. That being said, don’t write off the Epic Local pass just yet, read why you need to ski Afton Alps.
West Coast Epic Pass Mountains
Some of the most ridden Epic Pass mountains are on the west coast. They have vast terrain, lots of trails and lots of people. Here is a list of the west coast Epic Pass mountains:
Before you head to resorts like Stevens Pass or Vail. Make sure you have an idea where you will stay. We have great info on that in our Stevens Pass, Vail and Kirkwood resort guides that you won’t want to miss.
The Epic Pass Destinations Abroad
When you are paying the big bucks of an Epic Pass, it gets you access to some Canadian, European and Japan resorts as well. While a majority of people don’t use the access, if you can, you should. Here are some of the resorts.
- Whistler Blackcomb, Bc
- Fernie Alpine Resort – 7 Day Access
- Kicking Horse Mountain Resort – 7 Day Access
- Kimberley Alpine Resort – 7 Day Access
- Nakiska Ski Area – 7 Day Access
- Mont-Sainte Anne – 7 Day Access
- Stoneham – 7 Day Access
Japan Epic Pass Destinations
- Hakuba47 Winter Sports Park – 5 Day Access
- Hakuba Cortina Snow Resort – 5 Day Access
- Able Hakuba Goryu – 5 Day Access
- Hakuba Happo-One Snow Resort – 5 Day Access
- Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field – 5 Day Access
- Hakuba Norikura Onsen Snow Resort – 5 Day Access
- Jiigatake Snow Resort – 5 Day Access
- Kashimayari Snow Resort – 5 Day Access
- Tsugaike Mountain Resort – 5 Day Access
- Rusutsu, Japan – 5 Day Access
- Perisher, Australia – 2023 Access
- Hotham, Australia – 2023 Access
- Falls Creek, Australia – 2023 Access
In addition to all that, there is even access to 26 resorts in Europe including Andermatt-Sedrun.
We Have to Address The Holiday Restrictions
The Local Pass still does let you go to many resorts over the holidays so it certainly isn’t a deal-breaker but is something to be aware of when comparing the levels of Epic Passes.
Epic Pass vs Epic Local Pass
For most people, the Epic Local Pass is a great option. It is almost everything the full Epic Pass is but it does not have as much access to ski resorts abroad. On top of that, there is some holiday restriction placed on the Epic Local Pass while there aren’t any on the full Epic Pass.
If you want to save a couple of dollars, the Epic Local Pass is the way to go. Most people will find they don’t need the full Epic Pass, so why pay the full price…
The Epic Day Pass: Why It is Often Overlooked
For casual skiers, snowboarders or people who are only going to visit a few days out of the season, the Epic Day Pass is perfect. You’ll save a little bit compared to buying single lift tickets and you can choose between 1-7 flexible skiing or snowboarding days. From that, you can narrow it down to access to all the resorts or fewer resorts.
If you just want a few days on the slopes, don’t overlook the Epic Day Pass as it can be one of the most effective ways to get out on the trails.
Perks of the Epic Pass
While the Epic Pass has some perks, keep in mind they are designed to get you to spend more money at the Vail resorts. The notable perks of the Epic Pass pretty much include:
- 20% off food and beverage – Watch out, it’s already expensive
- 20% off lodging – This can be useful
- 20% off ski school – You probably don’t need this if you have an Epic Pass
- 20% off activities
- 20% off rental – Most likely you don’t need
- 20% off Epic Mountain express
While there is a lot of “perks”, most go unused. The main thing to pay attention to when picking an Epic Pass is which resorts you plan to use and if you need holiday access.
Epic Pass Hotel Discounts: What to Know
The most useful perk of the Epic Pass is likely the 20% off lodging. If you plan on doing a lot of traveling then the Epic Pass hotel discounts will come in handy. That being said, even when you use the Epic Pass hotel discounts, it isn’t always the cheapest option.
We have found that in most areas, vacation rentals by owners (“Vrbos” are the option to go with if you are staying a few days and need lodging.
What if I Need an Epic Pass Refund?
Getting a refund on an Epic Pass can be done but isn’t easy. Keep that in mind when shelling out for an Epic Pass. Once you start to use some days on the trails, it reduces your chances of getting a full refund, to a partial refund and then down to nothing.
As long as you have one of Vail’s valid reasons in their terms like injury or job loss, an Epic Pass refund is possible. Just don’t get the impression you can ride 40 days and then ask for a refund.
A Few Reasons Peak Seekers Don’t Like the Epic Pass
Before we wrap up, we do want to highlight a few areas where the Epic Pass falls short. As we mentioned the food is expensive at the resorts and you most likely won’t use a lot of the perks.
Unless you are skiing/riding during the week, be prepared for large weekend crowds at the big resorts. They may leave you feeling totally defeated with the Epic Pass in your hands.
The lodging will still be expensive even if you use the hotel discount on lodging so be sure to check other options too.
So is the Epic Pass Worth it?
Some people are all about Vail while others enjoy the independent resorts and low crowds on the Indy Pass. The Vail pass can be worth it if you know you’ll have time off during the week and can beat some of the crowds. While bad parking might be unavoidable on busy days, you can avoid the overpriced food and reduce some of the sting there.
The Epic pass is worth it if you plan to be on the trails a lot but it doesn’t come without the drawbacks we mentioned.