Epic Pass vs. IKON Pass: Battle of the Ski Passes

There is no question who they will be getting their season pass with each year for some folks. Others may look into it each time, and some may not have been able to decide yet. The truth is, you cannot go wrong choosing either one. Both Epic and IKON offer tremendous access to world-class resorts and terrain with the addition of exclusive benefits and rewards. Since 2018 when IKON came on the scene, the season pass debate has yet to fizzle out. In fact, it just got hotter this year when Epic released their sweeping twenty percent price cut on all passes.

As of the 2021/22 season, the Epic Pass runs around $900 per pass, while an adult IKON Pass costs around $1,200. Before jumping onto one or the other over price alone, there are plenty of factors that should be taken into account before swiping your card.

Which ski pass is best for you: IKON or Epic?

The Nitty Gritty of Epic

The company was established in 2008 by Vail Resorts, and Epic ran the multi-resort pass scene until 2018 when IKON came along. Epic’s abundance of options allows you to find a pass tailored to your needs, wants, and budget. The two most popular are the Epic Pass and Epic Local Pass. Variations cater to those in the military, college students, adaptive requirements, and an assortment of day passes ranging from one to seven days.

The Epic Pass

The Epic Pass is offered for adults (13+ years) and children (5-12 years). If your teen lives for being on the mountain, the cost pays off; if not, look into the Epic Local Pass below. Pass holders have access to a total of 84 world-class resorts throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, and Australia. The Epic Pass, in particular, is the only multi-resort pass that grants access to Telluride, Colorado, a selling point for many skiers. In addition to the many places this pass can take you, there are no blackout restrictions.

Epic Local Pass

The Epic Local Pass does not permit the same amount of unlimited access as the Epic Pass, but it is by no means limiting. This pass makes a terrific option for regional locals or out-of-state guests who ski frequently but cannot devote themselves to the slopes all season. The Epic Local Pass pricing extends from only adult and child to the addition of a teen (13-18 yeas) option, something many parents will be grateful for.

The Epic Passes come with some pretty showy benefits. Slightly similar to IKON, you can receive a twenty percent discount on food, beverages, and gear rentals. Unique to Epic, with the pass comes 20 percent off lodging at any Vail Resorts-owned properties. Additionally, you get discounts on lessons, Epic Mountain Express transportation to and from Denver International Airport (DIA), and fifty percent off a tune plus a complimentary wax. As a pass holder, you get up to 10 discounted Buddy Tickets.

The Nitty Gritty of IKON

Comparatively, when Alterra Mountain Company introduced IKON in 2018, many people were excited about a new option. Some people annually even purchase both passes for access to resorts on “both teams.” IKON has three pass variations – this doesn’t allow for the degree of customization as Epic, but the advantages are not lacking. Military, nurses, and college students are eligible to receive significant discounts on their choice of the IKON Pass, IKON Base Pass, and IKON Session Pass 4-Day. Unlike Epic, IKON’s price grouping is consistent through all pass options and ranges from children 4 and under, children (5-12 years), young adults (12-22), and adults (23+). Depending on the family or group age range, this pricing may be more helpful.


As an IKON Pass holder, you have access to 47 worldwide destinations. Fifteen of these destinations are unlimited access with no blackout dates. The remaining limited access destinations permit up to a total of seven days at each resort and exclude any blackout date restrictions.

IKON Base Pass

The IKON Base Pass provides access to forty-four of the 47 resorts partnered with IKON. Out of the 31 locations, thirteen are unlimited (with few blackout dates). The group of limited resorts allows for five days at each (blackout dates apply). If you are itching for days at Jackson Hole, WY, or Aspen, there is an add-on package for this Pass that will access one or both. Adding on Aspen (Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands) is never a bad idea since you can technically get a 4-for-1 deal.

In addition to exclusive terrain, the IKON Pass and IKON Base Pass are exclusive pass holder benefits. Half the fun of carving down the slopes is doing it with your mates. Friends and family don’t have to get left behind; with either of these passes, you can snag a 25 percent discount on up to ten lift tickets. That’s not all. You get 15 percent off of food, beverages, and retail. Because Alterra owns IKON and partners with numerous resorts, there is no bottom line discount on lodging, but you are eligible to receive deals that are exclusive to pass holders.

IKON Session Pass 4-Day

This 4-day pass is stellar for folks who want to test out new resorts, beginners, or average-stay vacationers. With the 4-day pass, you gain access to thirty-eight resorts worldwide. If you wish to ski the four days consecutively or spread them out throughout the year, the choice is yours.

All three passes include free of charge Adventure Assurance – IKON’s guarantee for credit in the case of destination closures. As of the 2021/2022 season, all pass holders are eligible for the free IKON Pass Fast Tracks. This permits the chance to get in early morning laps before anyone else. Be sure to check with your resort if they offer the opportunity and the dates.

What’s Your Style?

Aside from numbers and cost, each pass favors a particular style or experience. All season long, every resort welcomes newbies, mountaineers, or those who like to get in a few runs between shopping trips, brunch, and après. Destinations such as Copper Mountain, Steamboat or Big Sky cater exceptionally well to beginners and young children. If you fall into this area, IKON might be the better choice.

Avid skiers who are eager to seek out new adventure and crave steeper slopes would benefit more with IKON, but it ties up with Epic, too. Jackson Hole, Taos, Palisades Tahoe are all accessed with an IKON pass; the tie comes in with the notorious Telluride on Epic. Brunch, shopping, après, and a light sweat on the trails in between is the dream winter vacation for some people. Whimsical, high-fashion towns like Vail or Whistler Blackcomb make these dream vacations come true. Both Epic pass resorts, you get access to exceptional terrain and savings on great shopping.

Snowboard or Ski?

Since the 1960s, there has been a rivalry in the air between skiers and snowboarders. The competition over superiority ranges from friendly banter to disapproval. As snowboarding gained popularity in the 1970s and resorts saw an undeniable financial uptick, a few stuck to their traditions. Currently, only three resorts in the United States remain ski only. If you are a loyal skier, irked by snowboarders, the IKON Pass will be your optimal choice, as it grants access to Alta Snowbird and Deer Valley.

All-In-All, Location Is The Deciding Factor

The cost of either multi-resort pass is essential. However, keep in mind that despite Epic’s new prices being lower, it’s likely you will make up the cost in other places. Epic resorts tend to lean more toward big-names with more off-slope amenities. Meanwhile, IKON destinations are more unique in character, culture, and terrain. Either pass is going to grant you more than enough acreage to ski and luxury to indulge in. Because each pass accesses its destinations globally and has many similar benefits. It is vital to go with whichever is linked to your favorite place or locations you want to travel to.

Just remember, you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy a ski pass.