What Will the Ski Season Look Like in a COVID-19 World?
As we transition from our Lost Summer into Fall, the continued uncertainly around COVID-19 and the impacts it has on our day-to-day continues more than six months after the pandemic made landfall in the United States.
What remains the same is the optimism all of my fellow powder hounds have in their absolute faith that we WILL have a ski season, even if it looks rather different than seasons past. When our banner snow year came to a screeching halt in March, it was hard to believe that this “new normal” would extend into fall and – now we know – winter.
But the ski areas have been working double-time to bounce back and intend to open, as planned, this winter, albeit with COVID-19 protocols in place. Which means it’s time to review the Season Pass products being offered, including extended purchase deadlines and enhanced pass protection options due to the pandemic.
I always begin my season pass overview with Deer Valley Resort, as it’s my “home” resort for myself and my family. Though there are runs and bowls to accommodate every level of skier (and never, ever snowboarders …), many folks enjoy simply cruising the resort’s famous corduroy blues on their way to world-famous turkey chili and chocolate chip cookies the size of a dinner plate. But it’s the customer service that helps DVR to stand apart from other Utah resorts, and this year should be no different, with the resort clearly articulating on their website as to how they are adhering to COVID-19 protocols to keep their guests and staff safe.
However, some activities continue to have dates that are “to be determined,” including the highly-anticipated FIS World Cup, but the ski season will open on Dec. 6, with a closing date of April 11, 2021. They’ve also posted their winter operational plans will be shared in mid-October.
As a gesture to folks who missed out on the final weeks of last year’s season, DVR is offering season pass holders a 20% discount on the renewal of a 2020-21 pass now through Oct. 14, which can be purchased at ikonpass.com. Deer Valley’s “Local’s Only” Passholders can use any remaining days from last season during the upcoming season, but those days will be forfeited at the end of the season. They are also offering “Adventure Assurance,” which means guests will be able to defer the use of their unused 2020-21 pass and exchange it for a credit toward the purchase price of a 2021-22 pass product. Also, if – god forbid – DVR must cease operations due to COVID-19, the passholder can apply a proportional credit toward the purchase of a 2021-22 season pass product.
Full season passes are outlined in the table below, with restrictions regarding the Ikon pass as noted:
|PASS NAME||OCTOBER DEADLINE*||POST OCTOBER DEADLINE*|
|Adult (23-64 years)||$2,450||$2,850|
|Senior (65+ years)||$1,150||$1,300|
|Young Adult (13-22 years)||$1,500||$1,800|
|Child (5-12 years)||$680||$790|
|Military Season Pass***||$1,700||$1,700|
|Tot Season Pass (4 and under)||$165||$190|
*Pass rates do not include sales tax.
**College Student Season Pass: Available to full-time students as defined by school. Also available to Grade 4 Trade Schools. Verification through SheerID will be required before pass is issued. Apply discount in cart upon check-out.
***Military Season Pass: Passes are valid for active, reserve, honorably discharged and retired U.S. Military personnel, their spouse and dependents and are non-transferrable. A current, valid military photo ID for each pass holder must be presented at the time the pass is issued. Those who were honorably discharged should contact the Deer Valley Ticket Office at 435-645-6626 to purchase a Military Season Pass. Verification through SheerID will be required before pass is issued. Apply discount in cart upon check-out.
DVR also offers the Mid-Week Season Pass, which gets you on the mountain Monday through Friday (excluding 12/26/2020 – 1/2/2021) for just $1,395 before the October deadline, with the price increasing to $1,510 afterward.
To purchase passes or learn more, click here.
While Deer Valley Resort’s been famous for limiting its skiers each day, resulting in certain high-volume days being “sold out,” Park City Mountain traditionally placed no restrictions on the number of skiers and boarders on its mountain, resulting in some days being more crowded than locals are accustomed to experiencing.
That shouldn’t be a problem this season, with the advent of Park City’s parent company – Vail Resorts – implementing a skier reservation system to help adhere to COVID-19 protocols. With a reservation window opening on Nov. 6, Epic Passholders will be able to view availability in real-time, and their passes will automatically be activated for whichever days they choose.
To ease into the new restrictions, Park City is offering exclusive early season access for passholders through Dec. 7, which means no individual lift tickets will be sold until Dec. 8, though Epic Day Pass holders will be admitted. Week-of reservations will also be available.
To accommodate for COVID-19 concerns, the resort is now including Epic Coverage at no-cost for all season pass holders, which provides protection across a range of qualifying personal events and qualifying resort closures. Click here for an overview of Epic Coverage.
Park City’s cornerstone pass product, the restricted Epic Local pass, includes some blackout dates, but costs just $749 for adults, $599 for teens (ages 13-18) and $389 for children (ages 5-23). Unrestricted full Epic Passes are $999 for ages 13 and older, or $509 for ages 5-12, and offer unlimited riding at Vail’s multitude of resorts. Introduced last season, the Epic 1-7 Day Pass provides a deep discount for guests who purchase their day passes early, and little ones through age four can receive a free season pass. One of the best deals is the Epic Military Pass, available to active duty and retired military who served at least 20 years, at a cost of just $189.
For skiers and snowboarders, alike, Snowbird is hallowed ground, where “Go Big or Go Home” should be the greeting at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon. However, skiing purists (but – like Deer Valley Resort – never snowboarders) might prefer the Alta-Bird Pass, which offers a great value by allowing unlimited access to both Snowbird and legendary Alta, while the Ikon and Mountain Collective passes both provide access to additional ski areas beyond Little Cottonwood Canyon. For those looking to experience just Snowbird (and without blackout dates), check out the Summit Pass pricing below (info on Alta-only passes can be found here):
|Summit Pass Type||2020-21 Pass Price|
|Summit Senior (65+)||$1,099|
|Summit Young Adult (19-25)||$1,099|
|Summit College/Medical Resident/Military||$1,099|
|Summit Teen (13-18)||$649|
|Summit Youth (7-12)||$449|
|Summit 6 & Under||$89|
|Prices and benefits are valid through February 28, 2021.|
New for the 2020-21 season is the Superior Pass, which offers unlimited access to Snowbird in addition to ski days at 35+ ski destinations with the included Ikon Base Pass .¹ Special benefits of the Superior Pass include a one-day Guided Mountain Experience at Snowbird, one free day at Woodward Park City, plus additional opportunities, depending on purchase date.
|Superior Pass Type||20-21 Pass Price|
|Superior Senior (65+)||$1,479|
|Superior Young Adult (19-25)||$1,479|
|Superior College/Medical Resident/Military||$1,479|
|Superior Teen (13-18)||$919|
|Superior Youth (7-12)||$719|
|Superior 6 & Under||$289|
|Prices and benefits are valid through February 28, 2021.|
Like other resorts, Snowbird is offering pass protection for skiers for the upcoming season in the form of a Passholder Promise, which includes In-Season COVID-19 Coverage, an improved payment plan, extended pricing, pass refunds up until December 1 and a renewal credit for all 2019-20 season passholders.
To access Snowbird
One of the sweetest benefits of living (or just visiting) Utah is the Ski Utah 5th & 6th Grade Passport. At an all-in cost of just $45, 5th Graders can ski or ride three times at EACH of Utah’s resorts – which means a whopping 45 days on the mountain for just $45. The 6th Grade Passport is a little more modest with just one ticket at each mountain, but that’s still 15 days of skiing for just $45. (This year’s passes are not yet on sale, but if you visit the link above, you can share your info to be notified when they become available). Make it a ski season adventure-to-remember, and purchase the Ski Utah Yeti Pass for $649, and receive one ticket at each of Utah’s 15 resorts to accompany your little shredder to experience the Greatest Snow on Earth from every resort across the state!
Additional areas to consider in Northern Utah include the budget-friendly Brighton, easy-to-navigate Solitude, charming Sundance and the wide-open expanses of Snowbasin. A great rundown of all pass products, courtesy of Ski Utah, can be found here.
Whatever this year’s ski season holds, it will be memorable thanks to the unmatched mountain access, which is why so many people Choose Park City. Connect with Christine Grenney at 435-640-4238, or visiting her website by clicking here to learn more about the distinctions between each resort, and the many mountain properties providing easy access to each.