Travel & Outdoors

Multimountain Passes Let You Sample Regional Ski Areas for One (Still Not That Low) Fee

We look at some of the multiresort options.

By Julia Silverman December 4, 2020 Published in the Winter 2020/2021 issue of Portland Monthly

Locations of ski resorts affiliated with Indy Pass (green circles), Ikon Pass (blue squares), or season pass perks from Timberline (black diamonds) and Mt Hood Meadows (black diamonds with M)

Some of the ground you can cover with an Indy Pass (green circles), an Ikon Pass (blue squares), or season pass perks from Timberline (black diamonds) and Mt Hood Meadows (black diamonds with M). Some ski resorts, like White Pass and Mission Ridge in Washington, are part of multiple programs. 

Image: Michael Novak

Sports that naturally lend themselves to being outside and social distancing—golf, tennis, biking, fishing—are having a moment. And as winter sets in, add skiing and snowboarding to the list of safe sports du jour.

Those who hope to rack up the runs, but maybe not all at one place, might opt for a multiresort pass. The concept originated in Colorado, where many resorts were quick to hop on the bandwagon. The idea has been slower to take root in the Pacific Northwest, which has fewer of the destination resorts around which people plan their winters.

But now our local mountains are in on the trend in a big way, says Doug Fish, founder of Indy Pass, which seeks to give local, independently owned resorts a toehold in the multipass market.

“Most of the small and midsized resorts have plenty of capacity, and crowding is not an issue,” he says. “Within four hours you can get to half a dozen resorts.”

Here’s a look at some of the multiresort options, categorized by how much gnarl and shred you’re seeking.

Indy Pass

For the casual skier who may hit the slopes a few weekends a year, the Indy Pass grants two days of skiing at any of 56 resorts for $199 ($299 for the no-blackout-dates version, and $99 for kids 12 and under). Indy holders could head to Hoodoo Ski Area near Sisters or take a long weekend and hit Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort in Wenatchee. Fish’s pick is the often-overlooked White Pass Ski Area, just over two and a half hours from Portland but tucked away enough that Seattle crowds give it a miss.

Ikon Pass Central

Oregon’s Mount Bachelor has signed on with one of the big behemoths in this game, the Ikon Pass. There are many levels, but the Ikon Base Pass ($849, some blackout dates apply) grants five days of skiing at each of 27 resorts, including Bachelor, plus unlimited days at 14 others, among them the Summit at Snoqualmie and Crystal Mountain Resort—why should Seattle-area skiers get them all to themselves?

Season Passes with Perks

Committed skiers will probably want to stick with season passes at Timberline Resort or Mount Hood Meadows, which makes the most fiscal sense if you’re planning 10 or more ski days. Both also offer some perks at other resorts for season-pass holders. Timberline fans can buy a Fusion Pass, which gives them access to Mt Hood Skibowl, just down the road (a great choice for days when Timberline runs out of capacity) as well as reciprocal privileges at 50-plus Powder Alliance resort members. That translates to three free days of skiing at drivable destinations including Bogus Basin in Idaho and Sierra-at-Tahoe in California. Meadows is a multiresort pass outlier; its season pass program’s only swaps are with the venerable Mt Baker Ski Area, where passholders are entitled to five free days (Christmas holidays are blocked out) and three days at Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana (no blackouts).

Pricing and details can be in flux; check pass and resort websites for the latest.

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