It’s getting late in the snowboarding season and you might be moving on in your mind, now that the crocuses are starting to poke through the frozen ground. Snowboarding might be starting to take a backseat in your mind to whatever summer activities you have planned. But if you call it quits for the season now, you are missing out on some of the most fun snowboarding of the season! You could also be missing out on some great deals.
Now is the time to think about a season pass for next year. If you already have one, you know all about the benefits you can get by committing to a season at a specific resort. If you have never had one, allow me to point out some of the benefits and you can decide if it’s for you.
The biggest reason to get a season pass is price! Look at the price of passes and divide that by the number of times you will realistically be able to ride at a given place and you will be able to tell if it’s worth it. We have found that having a season pass encourages us to go more to really get our money’s worth. If you buy early (the date varies by resort, but usually it’s between April 30 and mid June) you will get the best pricing. After that date there will usually be an increase until around the end of October and if you wait even longer, you will usually be paying yet another tier of pricing after October.
Spring riding….spring riding can be really fun! The air is warming up, the sun is out, the snow is still there, and there is the coveted corn snow if you’re lucky. It’s a different way of riding, but it beats riding on ice hands down! Many season passes, if purchased early, will give you riding privileges for the rest of the season. Lots of resorts also have some type of spring pass (usually between $79-$199) to ride from mid March through the end of the season, which is often mid April in New England. The cost of these passes is often applicable to the purchase of a season pass should you decide to commit for next year.
Direct to lift access…no more waiting in lines to get lift tickets. You might have to wait once to pick up your pass, but then you are good to go and can maximize your time on the mountain and minimize you’re time waiting around.
If you are not sure where to get a pass, here are a number of factors to take into consideration
- Distance from home…pick a distance that is realistic for you to make the trip regularly
- Terrain– what type of riding do you like to do? Lap the park, ride in the glades, charge the groomers? Make sure that options you are entertaining have terrain that will be worth the trip for you
- Pricing– there is usually a variety of passes available, from passes with unlimited access, to those with blackout dates around holiday periods, to those that are only valid midweek. The pricing can vary wildly between resorts and also within a resort the more restrictions you put on when you can snowboard. Weigh the features and benefits and figure out how much pass you need. College passes or passes for people in their 20’s are usually a fantastic deal. If that is you, get a pass somewhere…those of us who are old are so jealous that you have this option.
- Accommodations- are there adequate lodging options near the resort if you can’t make the trip in a day? Friends and family with mountain houses are always a good place to start if they really like you, a LOT. Otherwise, make sure there are options fitting your tastes and budget. Hotels are almost always less expensive if you can avoid Friday and Saturday stays but some places will offer multi night discounts. Everything will be less crowded if you can avoid the weekends, but alas…work gets in the way of that for most people.
- Dining options– along with accommodations, if you are going to be visiting an area regularly and will have to stay overnight, you also want to make sure there are restaurants that you like and that fit your budget
- Snowmaking– with global warming and the finicky nature of winter weather, you might want to consider a resort’s snowmaking capabilities. If you are a diehard who wants to get out the second the mercury drops below zero, even if there is only one trail open, you will want to explore those resorts that make a sport out of opening early and making snow the second it’s possible. If you are content waiting for actual winter to arrive, your options are many more.
There are other considerations to keep in mind when considering any snowboarding season pass. Those include…
- Is the pass good at other resorts? Many ski resorts are owned by bigger companies, which own or manage several mountains. In that case, a pass for one resort might be good at others. You might get a few free days somewhere else or at least a discount at the affiliated mountains.
- There are usually other discounts too that may include retail, restaurant, lessons, other activities at the mountain like tubing or the Nordic center, a limited number of tickets for friends, and perhaps lodging or local businesses in the town.
If you find yourself torn between a couple of different mountains, weigh all of the features that will benefit you and choose from there. The more times you go, the more worth it your pass will be. There’s something nice about having a home base. You get to know the routine and it makes it easier to go. For us, the frequency with which we go combined with our inability to make decisions, make a season pass the only way to go!
If you are not ready to commit to a season pass, check out this post for some other ideas to get discounted lift tickets. And keep in mind that snowboarding in spring is usually cheaper than peak season so you can still get some riding in before the season ends.