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The time to buy your Colorado ski pass is now.

The time to buy your Colorado ski pass is now.

Here are the best options for 5 types of skiers.

Skiers and snowboarders fly down the High-Noon run on opening day at Arapahoe Basin ski area October 21, 2016. (Andy Cross, The Denver Post)

The first flakes are coming to the mountains in Colorado, so it’s time to get serious about that ski pass.

The early spring pass prices — some of which included free kids’ passes — are long gone. Those “last-chance” Labor Day deals have slipped away. The time is nigh to commit and buy. Resort operators don’t sell season passes once the lifts start turning.

And those resort honchos punish skiers who don’t plan ahead with daily lift tickets that will likely near $200 this season. You know who says skiing is expensive? Bad planners.

With the rapid consolidation of the resort industry into now two major players this summer — Vail Resorts and the yet unnamed partnership between Aspen Skiing Co.’s owner and KSL Capital — the diversity of pass options will fade a bit in 2018-19, so this is the last chance to find a truly tailored pass that fits precise needs. (By 2018-19, watch for a pair of sweeping, unlimited passes that corrals resorts into two distinct camps.)

Pro tip: Go ahead and spend the $20 on pass insurance. It is the *only* way to get refund.

Here’s our lowdown of passes to fit five types of Colorado buyers:

1. You ski a lot:

  • Epic Pass: $879 until Oct. 8, unlimited access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Utah’s Park City, Vermont’s Stowe, California’s Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar, British Columbia’s Whistler Blackcomb and Australia’s Perisher. The market leader with no restrictions and all-day, every-day access to 11 major ski areas and three midwest hills. Don’t mind limiting trips to Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler and Stowe for 10 restricted days a season? The Epic Local Pass is $659 until Oct. 8. Available at epicpass.com.
  • Rocky Mountain SuperPass +: $619 until mid-October, unlimited access to Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Eldora Mountain Resort and includes six days at Steamboat, three days at Crested Butte and three days each at Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor and Alyeska in Alaska. Available at skicolorado.com.

2. You ski a lot and are loyal to a single hill:

  • Winter Park pass: $449 until mid-October, unlimited, no restrictions, comes with three days at Oregon’s Mt. Hood Meadows. Available at winterparkresort.com.
  • Route 40 season pass: $529 until mid-October, unlimited access to Winter Park with four days at Steamboat. Available at winterparkresort.com.
  • Copper Pass: $429 until mid-October, unlimited, no restrictions, with three days at Monarch, Purgatory and Taos. Add $150 and get a dedicated lift line and a 15-minute head-start on the lifts. Available at coppercolorado.com.
  • Arapahoe Basin pass: Double Down, $559 (prices subject to change at any time) gets unlimited, no restrictions for 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, including three days at Taos; $329 gets unlimited, unrestricted in 2017-18 with three days at Taos. Available at arapahoebasin.com.
  • Eldora Mountain pass: $409 until Sept. 15, unlimited, unrestricted. Family Pass is $999, for two adults and two kids or one adult and three kids. Available at eldora.com.
  • Monarch pass: $479 until Nov. 3, unlimited, unrestricted with three days at Copper, two restricted days at Crested Butte, three days at Loveland, one day at Silverton Mountain and more. Available at skimonarch.com.

3. You love to chase powder and don’t mind traveling:

  • The Multi-Alpine Experience Pass, or M.A.X. Pass, $679 until Oct. 10 when it goes up $50, will fade away after this year considering Intrawest is now a part of the new Aspen Skiing – KSL gig. The M.A.X. Pass offers five unrestricted days at 44 mountains, including Copper Mountain, Crested Butte, Eldora, Steamboat and Winter Park. Available at themaxpass.com.
  • Mountain Collective, $469 until that price point sells out at which time it will go up $10-$15, is another pass that will likely fade as pass-founding Aspen Skiing, Mammoth and Squaw Alpine join forces under a new, yet unnamed partnership. Offering two days at 16 of North America’s top-o’-the-bucket-list resorts — including Alta, Snowbird, Jackson Hole, Revelstoke, Taos and Telluride — this is the pass for storm-chasing skiers eager to notch a weekend at the best hills. Available at mountaincollective.com.

 

Drew Disalbo from Edwards Colorado skis near the top of the Lenawee Mountain Lift at the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area May 20, 2015. (Andy Cross, The Denver Post)

4. You are going to ski four days or a couple of weekends or a week:

  • Epic 7-Day Pass, $659 and Epic 4-Day Pass, $449 both until Oct. 8.
  • Route 40 Four Pack, $219 until mid-October, offers two unrestricted days at Winter Park and two days at Steamboat. Available at winterparkresort.com
  • Winter Park Four Pass unrestricted Freestyle for $239 until mid-October, or restricted Tethered for $179, offers four days at Winter Park.
  • Arapahoe Basin Elevation 4-Day, $169, offers four unrestricted days.
  • Copper Mountain Four Park, $169 Arapahoe Basin Elevation 4-Day, offers four unrestricted days.
  • Aspen Classic Pass offers seven unrestricted days for $409, and four restricted days for $264. Available for renewal now or new Oct. 9-Nov. 12 at aspensnowmass.com. (These usually sell at the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Expo in downtown Denver — Nov. 10-12 — with an extra day thrown in.)
  • Colorado Gems Card, $25, offers two-for-one lift tickets or 30 percent off deals at each of the ten so-called “Colorado Gems” – like Sunlight, Echo Mountain, Powderhorn and Granby Ranch. Available at coloradoski.com/gems.

5. You are going to ski in the spring:

  • Stay tuned. Resorts will be dropping first-ever spring skiing passes and late-season deals this year as a way to bolster visitation when typical pass users start eyeing their golf clubs and bikes. Winter Park lists a “Triple Play” and an “April Double Dip” pass online, neither of which are priced or for sale yet. Watch for other resorts to follow suit.

 

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