Ikon/Epic Unlimited Skiing with Points Hotels

Table of contents


I love to ski and try to do so often, but, no surprise, I don’t like the high window rates for skiing by the day. I also love powder and I can increase my chance of finding fresh snow by not being tied down to one mountain. Over the past half decade or so, two competing systems of multi-mountain passes have been introduced to solve my problem, the Epic Pass (mostly mountains owned or operated by Vail Resorts (NYSE: MTN), Resorts of the Canadian Rockies and Sinclair Oil Group) and the Ikon Pass (mostly mountains owned by Alterra Mountain Company, Boyne USA, Powdr Corp. and Aspen Skiing Company). Between the two passes, most large mountains in the USA are covered, leaving only a handfull of independents largely in the east such as Pacific Group Resorts (e.g., Ragged, Powderhorn), State of New York (e.g., Whiteface, Gore), State of NH (Cannon), and Smuggler’s Notch. A new pass has also come out of 47 very small mountains called the Indy Pass, but none that I ski and very few that I have heard of, though if you do frequent them, it is $419 for 2 days at each mountain (as of APril 6, 2023). These passes have expanded to provide extensive coverage of North American east, rocky and west coast mountain skiing (and a decent amount of international). One day when I retire I could imagine carrying both passes, for now, choosing one makes the most sense. The bad news is you need to make your decision long before ski season to get the best price, so it is key to thing about which one you will get more use from, so you will want to consider which mountains you will be most interested in skiing. There are some key factors that I consider including:

  • Are there hotels that are available on points on or near the mountain? I have come to consider paying cash for a hotel to be a failure of imagination, so I want to know if there are points hotels and if those hotels are on the network where I have points (the big ones being Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and IHG along with the ability to use Chase Ultimate Rewards at many other hotels). You will note below that I track these for each mountain based on a hotel reasonably close to the mountain that I would consider staying at it (this distance is different based on the mountain. If there are no hotels within 30 miles than one 40 miles doesn’t seem so far, however, if there are a lot of reasonable cash options on mountain, than a points hotel 40 miles away seems too far).
  • How big is the mountain? Looking at the acreage is a quick way to know if the mountain is large enough to be interesting to me. This is also subjective as I am willing to drive to a much smaller mountain than I would be willing to fly to. You may note some of my biases as a New England-based person, but I try to give all the facts anyway.
  • Is it too high? I am altitude sensitive and there are mountains that will challenge most sea-level dwellers. I tend to try to arrange trips where I start at a lower mountain and work my way up to the higher altitude over the week. Altitude sickness can build up and you are spending many more of your 24 hours at the base then the peak, so I focus on the base altitude to compare.
  • What airports are nearby and how far are they? You may want to consider if you can fly directly to that airport and how hard it will be to get to the mountain once you land. I note the closest airport unless the airport is small and there is a major hub airport less than apx 2 hours further. For instance, many Americans can fly directly to Denver International, but need to stop to fly to the handful of small Colorado airports closer to the big mountains. However, if it is a 1 hour drive from the small airport and a 2 hour drive from Denver, I would prefer to drive an extra hour than connect.
  • Kids programs - I also want to know if they have childcare for a baby or ski lessons/camp for an older child and also how much those programs cost. Hint: the East Coast generally charges less than Rocky/West Coast for kids programs and Ikon mountains generally charge less than Epic mountains (keeping the pass cheap and the add-on prices high appears to be Vail’s pricing strategy) though the east coast has been trending toward the west’s prices and Ikon’s programming has been raising quickly as well so this statement is barely still true in 2023.

Resort Master List

Mountain Region Acres Base Altitude Pass Family Full Pass Base/Local Pass Airport (distance) Hotel Family Notes
Steamboat CO 2965 6900 Ikon U 5-BO HDN(0.5) Marr, Hilt, Chse
Winter Park CO 3081 9000 Ikon U U DEN(2) BW, IHG
Copper CO 2465 9712 Ikon U U DEN(2) BW, IHG
Eldora CO 680 9360 Ikon U U
Palisades Tahoe Tahoe 4000 6200 Ikon U U-BO RNO(1)
Mammoth CA 3500 7953 Ikon U U-BO MMH(0.5) Marr
June CA 1500 7545 Ikon U U-BO
Big Bear CA 748 7140 Ikon U U
Stratton New England 625 1872 Ikon U U-BO
Showshoe WV 244 3348 Ikon U U
Crystal WA 2600 4400 Ikon 7 5-BO
Tremblant QC 630 755 Ikon U U
Blue Mountain true 364 750 Ikon U U
Solitude UT 1200 7988 Ikon U U-BO SLC(0.75)
AspenSnowmass CO 3362 8104 Ikon 7 5-BO(+$200) ASE(0.25) Marr, IHG, Hyt
Jackson Hole WY 5500 6311 Ikon 7 5-BO(+$200) JAC(0.75) Hilt
Big Sky MT 5800 7500 Ikon 7 5-BO BZN(1) Marr, Chse
Killington-Pico New England 1509 1165 Ikon 7 5-BO
Sugarbush New England 484 1483 Ikon U U-BO
Boyne Highlands MI 435 773 Ikon 7 5-BO
Boyne Mountain MI 850 620 Ikon 7 5-BO
Summit at Snoqualmie WA 1914 2610 Ikon 7 5-BO SEA(1.25)
Banff Lake Louise Banff 4224 5400 Ikon 7 5-BO YYC(1.75)
Revelstroke Banff 3031 1680 Ikon 7 5-BO Various(Various)
Cypress BC 600 2985 Ikon 7 5-BO
Sunday River New England 870 800 Ikon 7 5-BO
Sugarloaf New England 1240 1417 Ikon 7 5-BO
Loon New England 370 950 Ikon 7 5-BO IHG
Taos NM 1294 9.2 Ikon 7 5-BO(+$200) ABQ(2.75)
Deer Valley UT 2026 6570 Ikon 7 5-BO(+$200) SLC(0.75) Hilt, Marr, Hyt, IHG
Brighton UT 1050 8755 Ikon 7 5-BO SLC(0.75)
Snowbird/Alta UT 5114 8100 Ikon 7 5-BO(+$200)* SLC(0.75)
Thredbo Australia 1186 4478 Ikon 7 5-BO CBR(2.5)
Mt Buller Australia 740 4511 Ikon 7 5
The Remarkables New Zeeland 1500 5203 Ikon 7 5 ZQN(0.5)
Niseko United Japan 2191 853 Ikon 7 5-BO Hilt
Valle Nevado Chile 2224 9843 Ikon 7 5
Mt. Bachelor OR 4318 5700 Ikon 7 5-BO RDM(0.5) Hilt, Marr, IHG
Windham Mountain NY 285 1500 Ikon 7 5-BO
Vail CO 5289 8120 Epic U 10* BO EGE(0.75) Hyt, Marr, IHG
Whistler Blackcomb BC 8171 2214 Epic U 10* BO YVR(2) Marr, Hilt
Keystone CO 3148 9280 Epic U U DEN(2) Hyt
Northstar California Tahoe 3170 6330 Epic U U-BO(50%) RNO(0.75) Marr, Hyt
Heavenly Tahoe 4800 Epic U U-BO(50%) RNO(1)
Stowe VT 485 1559 Epic U U-BO(50%)
Afton Alps MN 300 350 Epic U U
Perisher Australia 3080 5640 Epic U N/A CBR(2.5)
Hotham Alpine Australia 790 4760 Epic U N/A
Crested Butte CO 1547 9115 Epic U U GUC(0.5) Chse
Beaver Creek CO 1815 8100 Epic U 10* BO EGE(0.5) Hyt, Marr
Breckenridge CO 2908 9600 Epic U U DEN(2) Hilt, Hyt, Marr
Park City UT 7300 6900 Epic U U-BO(50%) SLC(0.75) Hilt, Marr, Hyt, IHG
Kirkwood Tahoe 2300 7800 Epic U U-BO(50%) RNO(1.5)
Wilmont Mountain WI 120 770 Epic U U
Mt Brighton MI 130 1100 Epic U U
Falls Creek Australia 1110 4593 Epic U N/A
Okemo Mountain Resort New England 667 1134 Epic U U
Mount Sunapee New England 230 1230 Epic U U
Stevens Pass WA 1125 4061 Epic U U SEA(2)
Telluride CO 2000 8725 Epic 7/50% N/A TEX(0.25)
Snowbasin UT 3000 6391 Ikon 7 5-BO(+$200) SLC(1) Hilt, Marr, Hyt, IHG
Sun Valley Idaho 2054 5750 Ikon 7 5-BO(+$200) BW
Kicking Horse, etc & Mont-Sainte-Anne Canada 2750 3900 Epic 7/50% N/A
Hakuba Valley (10 resorts) Japan 550 3100 Epic 5 5
Rusutsu Japan 523 1312 Epic 5 5 CTS(2.5) Marr
3 Valleys France Alps 26000 4600 Epic 7 N/A GVA(2.25)
Paradiski Alps 35559 3937 Epic 2 N/A GVA(2.5)
Tignes-Val D’Isere Alps 25000 6069 Epic 2 N/A TRN(2)
Skirama Dolomiti Italy Alps Epic 7/50% N/A
Mount Snow New England 600 1900 Epic U U
Attitash New England 311 600 Epic U U
Wildcat New England 225 1950 Epic U U
Crotched New England 100 1050 Epic U U
Roundtop PA 103 755 Epic U U
Big Boulder PA 65 1400 Epic U U
Liberty Mountain PA 100 570 Epic U U
Whitetail PA 109 865 Epic U U
Jack Frost PA 80 1400 Epic U U
Brandywine OH small 871 Epic U U
Boston Mills OH small 871 Epic U U
Mad River OH OH 144 1160 Epic U U
Alpine Valley OH 90 1260 Epic U U
Hidden Valley (MO) MO 70 2405 Epic U U
Hidden Valley (PA) PA 110 2405 Epic U U
Seven Springs Mountain Resort PA 285 2240 Epic U U
Laurel Mountain PA 70 2000 Epic U U
Snow Creek MO 25 799 Epic U U
Paoli Peaks IN 600 Epic U U
Hunter NY 320 1600 Epic U U
Zermatt Matterhorn Alps 3500 5276 Ikon 7 5 GVA(2.7) Chse
Kitzbühel Alps 1421 Ikon 7 5
Dolomiti Superski Alps 29652 4685 Ikon 7 5 Innsburck
RED Mountain BC Ikon 7 5-BO
Schweitzer ID 2900 4000 Ikon 7 5-BO GEG(1.8)
Chamonix Mont-Blanc Alps Ikon 7 5
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area CO 1428 10780 Ikon 7 5 DEN(1.5) Hyt
Panorama Canada Ikon 7 5-BO
Lotte Arai Japan Ikon 7 5
Verbier4Vallées Alps Epic 5 N/A
Ski Arlberg Alps Epic 3 N/A
Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis (Switzerland) Alps Epic U 5+50% ZRH


  • BO = Black Out Dates Apply, see Ikon and Epic sections above for Blackout Dates
  • Italics = I have italicized out what I considered to be the more minor mountains. Outside of the northeast, this usually means under 1,000 acres or under 2,000 if next to other large mountains. For the Northeast, I use an undefined sliding scale related to distance from New York and Boston, i.e., the largest mountains at a given distance to the cities are not considered minor.


  • Marr = Marriott/Bonvoy (e.g., St. Regis, Ritz, Sheraton, Westin, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn)
  • Hilt = Hilton (e.g., Warldorf, Doubetree, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites )
  • IHG = IHG Hotels & Resorts (e.g., Intercontinental, Holiday Inn)
  • Hyt = Hyatt
  • BW = Best Western
  • Chse = Significant availability of hotels that can be booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards Note that I only combine acreage when you can connect between the mountains by lift without going out of bounds. Busses don’t count. Backcountry interconnections don’t count.

Ikon Pass

The Ikon Pass is a bit more versatile giving you a broader choice of mountains than the Epic pass, however, it isn’t truly unlimited like the Epic Pass.

  • Ikon Pass $1,159 ($829 military/college/nurse, $859 age 13-22, $369 age 5-12, $269 age 5-12 w/adult purchase, $149 age 0-4) less $50 promotional discount as of April 5, 2023. – No blackout dates – 55 ski resort complexes (unlimited at 15 destinations, 7 days per year at remainder)
  • Ikon Base Pass $829 ($589 military/college/nurse, $599 age 13-22, $299 age 5-12, $199 age 5-12 w/adult purchase, $99 age 0-4) less $25 promotional discount as of April 5, 2023. – Blackout dates 2023/4: July 1-16, Dec 26-31, Jan 13-14, Feb 17-18, July 6-21 – 47 ski resort complexes (unlimited at 14 destinations, 5 days per year at remainder)

Epic Pass

  • Epic Pass $909 ($463 age 5-12) as of April 5, 2023 – no blackouts – unlimited at most destinations, 7 days at 3 resort groups, 5 days at 2 Japanese resort groups, and a limited ability to use certain european resorts (often with a hotel purchase) – 6 Ski with a Friend (SWAF) tickets (percent discount off window rate), 10 buddy tickets (fixed price ticket, better than SWAF) if purchased before April 16, 2023, 20% off food, lodging, group lessons, rentals
  • Epic Local pass – $676 ($547 age 13-18, $351 age 5-12) as of April 5, 2023 – Blackout dates:Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stowe, Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb (11 days in total): 11/24/23-11/25/23, 12/26/23-12/31/23, 01/13/24, 02/17/24-02/18/24. – 10 day combined limit at Vail, Beaver Creek and Whistler – 6 SWAF tickets (percent discount off window rate), 10 buddy tickets (fixed price ticket, better than SWAF), discounts
  • Epic has 1 to 7 day passes (holiday and non-holiday versions), various regional passes, various military passes (including one as low as $129 for unrestricted 18 resort pass), various college passes.

Additional Details (West Coast / Rockies)

  • Vail (5,289 acres)
    • Marriott: Sheraton Mountain Vista Villas, Marriott
    • IHG: Holiday Inn
    • Hyatt: Grand Hyatt (personal favorite)
  • Beaver Creek (1,832 acres)
    • Hyatt: Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, The Residences at Park Hyatt
    • Marriott: Ritz-Carlton at Bachelor Gulch, Westin Riverfront Resort, Westin Riverfront Villas
  • Breckenridge (2,908 acres)
    • Hilton: DoubleTree
    • Hyatt: Hyatt Main Street Station
    • Marriott: Mountain Valley Lodge
  • Park City/Canyons/Deer Valley (7,300 acres) Note that Park City and Canyons are operated together on one ticket and are on the Epic Pass. Deer Valley, while separated from Park City by a simple (though very well guarded) rope, is a totally separate company and ticket and on the Ikon Pass. Note that there are easy shuttle busses between the town of Park City and the 3 mountains (though I have had some long waits between Mountain Village and Canyons Village). There is also a “Town Lift” from the center of the town of Park City onto Park City Mountain. The Town Lift is pretty easy if you are staying in town. Stayed near the town lift in 2019 and skied all three. Canyons is my personal favorite. If you are looking for steep easy access powder, Canyons is the place to be. Spent a lot of time on the Ninety-Nine 90 Express chair. From Mountain Village there is an area called Jupiter but it involves a fair number of slow lifts to get to and some of the better stuff involved hiking.
    • Hilton: Hampton Inn & Suites, Waldorf Astoria, DoubleTree)
    • Hyatt: Hyatt Escala
    • IHG: Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites
    • Marriott: St. Regis Deer Valley, Park City Marriott, Marriott’s MountainSide (Vacation Club), Marriott’s Summit Watch (Vacation Club)
      • Note that the MountainSide and Summit Watch are Marriott Vacation Club properties meaning that your Marriott elite status isn’t worth much at those hotels.
      • I stayed at the MountainSide in 2019. Great experience right at the main Park City base. You exit the ski valet walk by the hot tubs and then a tiny push to the main lift or ski down to another lift if you want to be crazy lazy (happens). Their hot tubs are just what is needed after a day in the powder.
      • As crazy as it sounds, the St. Regis needs to compete for Luxury status with the Montage at Deer Valley. The St. Regis is a bit lower if you are altitude sensitive. The Montage has a kids camp (~$120/day in 2019) if your kids don’t ski and a kids valet (~$75/day in 2019) that provides surround care to ski school allowing you to get last chair. Of course, next to the Montage is a Champagne Yurt. Unfortunately, Montage isn’t on any points program but you may be able to book using Chase Ultimate Rewards.
    • Other Hotels of Note: Silverado Lodge (stayed in 2023)
  • Heavenly, Lake Tahoe (4,800 acres; base at 6,450)
  • Northstar (3,170 acres)
    • Hyatt: Hyatt Regency, Northstar Lodge
    • Marriott: Ritz Carlton
  • Kirkwood (2,300 acres): N/A</ul>
  • Big Sky (Montana) – Big Sky is my favorite mountain of all time. It is utterly humongous. The only mountains of similar scale include Whistler/Blackcomb and the combined Park City resorts. It is also one of the least crowded mountains out there. There used to be no one there, but with the Ikon pass, you now get to see other people. One exception is the tiny tram to the peak, there is always a big line there (and recently, the tram was not included in the Ikon Pass). However, the mountain is so large, you don’t need the tram. You will find glades with real moguls at a good pitch still marked blue. If they mark something a double black, they are serious about it and most triple blacks are pretty extreme. At 50 degrees, they require you bring avalanche gear. But if you are looking for a cruiser, don’t fret. They have countless miles of blue terrain where you will still find fresh corduroy at 3:59pm. To get to Big Sky, use your United points and fly to Bozeman Airport stopping over in Denver. About an hour drive from Bozeman. Bozeman Airport is a delight btw. There are two base areas, Mountain Village and Madison Village. Both have daycare, lessons, parking and food options. Mountain Village is much bigger with a large free parking lot with a shuttle. Madison is an extra 10 minute drive, but much smaller with parking very close to the lifts.
    • Marriott: Residence Inn (“The Wilson”), 15 minute drive from the lifts, reasonable points, new and very nice.
    • Airbnb (click here for $40 off your first stay)
    • With the Chase Reserve, may also be worth considering directly booking with ultimate rewards the Huntley Lodge which is on mountain. I haven’t stayed there but was in there lobby and it seemed like it could be nice.
  • Steamboat (Colorado) – Steamboat is a wonderful mountain with minimal crowds. It is about a half hour or so drive from Hayden airport with direct flights from certain Delta, American and United hubs. Alternative is to drive 3-6 hours (depending on the weather and car) from Denver. I won’t be doing that again. Steamboat Springs itself is an adorable town that you can almost walk to from the mountain. Tons of restaurants along with a nice library and museum for the kids. There is also an indoor water park in town. Note if you go during a holiday season, the good restaurants fill up months in advance, but the Sheraton’s casual restaurant will serve you in the lobby if needs be and is surprisingly good.
    • Marriott: Sheraton – on mountain; wonderful hotel though now all villas so a bit more difficult on points; Residence Inn Big Sky (a newer hotel in the recently built-up “downtown” area of Big Sky); while I’ve stayed at and liked them both, I would be more likely to save a few bucks
    • Hilton: Hampton Inn
    • With the Chase Reserve, may also be worth considering directly booking with ultimate rewards the The Ptarmigan Inn which is on mountain. I haven’t stayed there but may try it soon.
  • Winter Park (Colorado) – Winter Park is a serious mountain a short ride from Denver. It is big with lots of serious terrain. It is split up into territories including the main Winter Park, Mary Jane (a bunch of steep mogul runs off an express lift — serious quad workout), Vasquez Ridge, Parsenn Bowl (wide open skiing), Eagle Wind (amazing glades with no crowds), the Cirque (side country, closed when I was there). The downside is that the mountain gets pretty crowded given how close it is to the city. Also, trying to park there on a weekend wasn’t fun. Get there late and you park across the highway and take a shuttle to the far end of a village where you then get to walk to the lifts. Not a big deal for a couples weekend, but not so easy if you are dragging a little one. Limited points hotel options around, just a Best Western Winter Park in the town of Winter Park (15 min drive) and a Holiday Inn Express in Fraser (30 min drive). The HI Express was very nice though and walk-able from a large supermarket and day care with a drop in option half the price of on-mountain (though didn’t try it). Also note that Winter Park’s base is at a pretty high elevation, if you are altitude sensitive, consider giving yourself a couple of days in Denver and/or getting some meds before you go. Tons of direct flights on points to Denver.
    • Best Western: Best Western Winter Park in the town of Winter Park (15 min drive)
    • IHG: Holiday Inn Express in Fraser (30 min drive). The HI Express was very nice though and walk-able from a large supermarket and day care with a drop in option half the price of on-mountain (though didn’t try it).
  • Copper (Colorado) – Copper is a major mountain a short drive from Denver. While I haven’t been to Copper, it is certainly on my list to try. Downside is the limited choices for point hotels. Tons of points options to get to Denver, of course.
    • Best Western: Best Western at Copper Mountain
    • IHG
  • Mt. Bachelor (Oregon) – Mt. Bachelor (3,683 acres) is a significant mountain in the Pacific Northwest. It’s 20 miles from Redmond (RDM) Airport serviced by Alaska Air (soon to be part of Oneworld) with direct flights to LAX, SLC, SFO, SEA and PDX along with some United flights. Most hotels are in nearby Bend, OR. Spent a week there in April of 2022 with some great snow. Bend is also a very nice “Work From Home” type of town with tons of new housing built for digital nomads from the west coast.
  • Crested Butte (Colorado) – Crested Butte has been added to the pass for the 2016-2017 season. It is over 4 hours from Denver airport so not the easiest to get to.
    • With the Chase Reserve, may also be worth considering directly booking with ultimate rewards the Grand Lodge (a walk across the village) or Elevation Lodge (near the lifts and kids area).</li>
  • Solitude & Brighton (Utah) – Solitude (1,200 acres) and Brighton (1,050 acres) are on the smaller side of the big western mountains but are on the Ikon Pass and only about 45 minutes from SLC airport. I’ve skied both and love them. Solitude’s base is a bit lower and has more of a resort. Brighton has longer runs and tends to get a bit more snow with its slightly higher elevation. They are under a 10 minute drive from each other and there is a trail to ski between them (SolBright) though it is often closed.
    • I stayed at the Inn in 2017 and at the Eagle Springs Lodge West in 2023. If going with a family, I would recommend looking at the Eagle Springs Lodge East as that building has Club Solitude with the gym, pool, “movie theater”, etc. for the kids after skiing. Both East and West have hot tubs. Stayed in a very nice 2 bedroom in West that was over the top large. The Honeycomb restaurant next door is great for dinner, very much enjoyed the Bison Burger, and not too expensive. There is also a Germanic themed restaurant that I haven’t tried but it is also the breakfast spot. Breakfast is pretty affordable at $20 for a hot meal (e.g., eggs & bacon) plus access to a small continental buffet (fruit and scones).
    • There is some type of hostel type lodging at Brighton.
    • It is possible to stay at a hotel in the valley and commute up the Big Cottonwood Canyon road to the mountains. A reasonable plan if it isn’t expected to snow, but in heavy snow the roads can temporarily close and most of the time they require either 4 wheel drive or chains. The closest neighborhood to the mountains is called Cottonwood Heights. There is a Courtyard Marriott, Marriott Residence Inn and a Hyatt Place there. I was forced to stay at the Residence Inn in 2023 when the roads were closed. The Residence Inn was certainly tired and the fold out couch was terrible.
  • Crystal Mountain, Washington (2,600 acres)
  • Stevens Pass, Washington (1,125 acres)
  • Fernie Alpine Resort, British Columbia
  • Kicking Horse Mountain, British Columbia
  • Kimberley, British Columbia
  • Nakiska Ski Area Alberta
  • Eldora Mountain (680 acres) – 21 miles from downtown Boulder and accessible on a public Ski Bus for $9 round trip in about 45 minutes. Could be worth it if you are nearby. Though those altitude sensitive should note that its base is 9,200ft and peak is 10,600ft.
  • Aspen/Snowmass (Colorado)
    • Hyatt: Hyatt Grand, Hyatt Mountain Lodge
    • IHG: Holiday Inn Express Snowmass Village
    • Marriott: St. Regis, Westin Snowmass
  • Mammoth (California)
    • Marriott: Westin Monache
  • Whistler/Blackcomb (British Columbia)
    • Marriott: Westin
    • Hilton: Hilton
  • Jackson Hole (Wyoming) – My first time to Jackson hole was in 2020. It is a reasonable drive from JAC airport and a great mountain (though not quite as good as Big Sky). If you are very low maintenance, consider The Hostel (click here for my review). From Jackson Hole Airport (a great tiny airport that sometimes service mimosas in baggage claim), you can take a free car rental bus to pick up a rental car or pay for a shuttle to town or the mountain. Note that some of the car rental locations (at least Avis, Budget and Alamo) are effectively in town so you are on their free shuttle for 20 minutes. By the time you get to the car rental counter, you may decide you don’t need a car just yet and just jump on the city bus to town or the mountain like we did (we picked it up a few days later for a longer drive). While getting longer with the Ikon pass, the only real line is for the Tram. I would only bother with the tram if there happens to be no line (lots of vertical and a very nice bowl) or you are a good enough skier to be in a ski movie (there are some world famous extreme “trails” off the tram including Corbit’s and S&S). They claim that the tram is for “experts” only but Rendezvous bowl is very doable by an advanced skier comfortable in mixed terrain on a nice day.
    • Hilton: Hampton Inn (19 min), Homewood Suites (21 min)

Additional Details (East Coast)

  • Sugarloaf (Maine) – Sugarloaf (1,230 acres) is probably the best skiing in the east. Gets the most natural snow and is never crowded. The only real downside with Sugarloaf is that it is really far for most everyone to get to. While there are no points hotels, the on mountain options are affordable.
  • Sunday River (Maine) – Sunday River (870 acres) may be the best all-round combination of good skiing, a reasonable drive (if you live near Boston) and affordable pricing. Sunday River has lots of good terrain including steeps like White Heat (which scared the hell out of me when I was young) and trees. At about 3 1/4 hours from Boston, it is accessible. While no points hotels, the local options are not too expensive. Even staying ski-on/ski-off is semi-affordable. Not nearly as much of a night scene as Killington, but better to get to bed early to prepare for first tracks.
  • Killington (Vermont) – Killington (1,509 acres) is a major mountain in the east less than a 3 hour drive from Boston. Note that their acreage count is “boundary to boundary”, so take it with a bit of a grain of salt if you are a front country skier. I have certainly spent more days skiing here than any other mountain. It has lots of varied terrain and is known for evening options on its access road. While it can get fairly crowded, it isn’t too hard to strategically choose lifts and singles lines to mitigate them. I wouldn’t call it very family friendly (lots of separate drive-up bases, party culture, expensive for New England) and some would say that it isn’t so friendly in general (probably due to its relatively large size and more corporate style management than some area mountains), but has a good amount of terrain for those that love to ski. And bonus points for having somewhat recently changed their policy to officially allow skiing off piste for those that know what they are doing. They are also building a new base lodge at K-1 that hopes to be open for the 2020-2021 season. They don’t have any point hotel options on mountain or very close, though there are some options within a 20 to 40 minute drive and a few possibilities to use Chase Ultimate Rewards at a few hotels on the access road . That said, there is a large inventory of unused condos that are rentable through Killington, AirBnb, Craigslist, etc. Also, if you are young enough (in age or at heart), “guest” at a friend’s ski share on the couch for short money. On the east coast, I often tend to stay a night on the way to the mountain, especially if I am leaving late in the evening for a weekend. From Boston, White River Junction is a reasonable resting point on the way to Killington (about an hour away) with a Fairfield Inn, Hampton Inn, and Holiday Inn. A bit closer on the way (about 35 minutes from Killington) and extremely charming is the town of Woodstock, however, the hotels there are independently run and expensive (though I highly recommend them for the summer).
    • Hilton: Hampton Inn Rutland (30 minutes)
    • IHG: Holiday Inn Rutland (29 minutes)
    • Chase: Killington Mountain Lodge (3 min), North Star (6 min), Chalet Killington (3 min), Spruce Glen Townhomes (ski on - from highway base)
  • Pico (Vermont) – Pico (468 acres) is not otherwise noteworthy except that it is adjacent to Killington (though is a very nice mountain in its own right and would be much more popular if it was closer to a big city on the East, basically the same size as Waterville Valley and has more to offer than Mt. Sunappee, for two examples). Getting much less traffic than Killington, Pico will keep the fresh powder a bit longer, making it a good place to visit a day or two after a dump. Also a great place for a family with little ones learning to ski.
    • Hilton: Hampton Inn Rutland (21 minutes)
    • IHG: Holiday Inn Rutland (20 minutes)
  • Loon Mountain (New Hampshire) – Loon (324 acres) is nothing to write home about other than the fact that it is under 2 hours from Boston. I grew up skiing here and have fond memories, but there is very little terrain and extreme crowds. While they claim to have a double black called ripsaw, I’ve been to places where that trail would be a blue or blue/black. While no points hotels, there are some good condo rental options including the Village at Loon across the street and the InnSeason’s Pollad Brook a few blocks away. Both have shuttle service.
  • Tremblant (Quebec) – Tremblant (662 acres) is a nice mountain for non-serious skiers. It has a cute little village with bad food but good beverage options and a surprising great crepe place. However, the mountain is the opposite of steep. For some reason they feel they need to label some trails as double blacks, but they grade inflate even more than Loon. It was also very crowded when I was there last with very long lines, though there is a VIP line for certain condo owners and Canadians with Visa Infinite Privilege credit cards (CIBC Aerogold, CIBC, Aventura, CIBC Dividend, RBC Avion, RBC British Airways, TD First Class, TD Aeroplan, Scotiabank Momentum, Scotiabank GM Card and Laurentian Infinite). It is unclear if Americans are able to get this benefit through the $400/year City National Crystal Visa Infinite card. The good news is that there are multiple points hotels right in the village at the bottom of the lifts.
    • Starwood: Westin – walking distance in mountain village. Fine hotel but a bit further of a walk from the lift than some of the others, though certainly not a big deal.
    • Marriott: Residence Inn – close walk to the lifts
    • IHG: Holiday Inn Express & Suites – close walk to the lifts
    • Hilton: Homewood Suites – close walk to the lifts
    • Fairmont: Fairmont – probably the most fancy of the hotels on mountain
  • Stratton (Vermont) – Stratton (670 acres) is a mid size (for the East) mountain in Southern Vermont about 4 hours from New York City and 3 hours from Boston. It doesn’t have any points hotel options except through Chase. I haven’t been there, but may try it if I’ve already finished my allocation at Sunday River and Killington or a storm happens to hover over Southern Vermont. Note that Mt. Snow is about 10 miles from Stratton so see Mt. Snow Hotels as well.
    • Chase: Black Bear Lodge, Long Trail House
  • Mont Sainte-Anne (Quebec) – Mont Sainte-Anne (450 acres) is a very good mountain
    • Hilton Quebec
    • Marriott/Starwood: Hotel Pur Quebec, Quebec City Marriott Downtown, Courtyard Quebec City
  • Okemo (Vermont) – Okemo (667 acres) is a mid size (for the East) mountain in central Vermont about a bit under 3 hours from Boston. It doesn’t have any points hotel options except using chase. I first tried Okemo in 2018 when it was on the Maxx Pass and very much enjoyed it. I spent a few weekends there in December of 2022 with good snow and was happy with it. They have a good seasonal programs for the kids there (except that the drop off is mid-mountain for some reason). If you live in Boston and plan to get Epic Pass and know how to ski, this is a great weekend escape.
    • Chase: Mountain Lodge at Okemo (ski on), Castle Hill Resort (9 min), Echo Lake Inn (10 min)
    • The hotel at Jackson Gore is the most luxiourous around but also pricey. It is right at the base of Jackson Gore which is great unless you have a kid in one of the programs that runs out of the clock tower base then you need to rush over there by lift or drive anyway making paying for its location silly. If instead you have a kid in daycare, the daycare is in the same building as the hotel. The gym and pool are also very close (though you need to walk outside for a minute).
    • There are some nice AirBnBs in Ludlow, a 5-10 minute drive away.
  • Mt. Snow (Vermont) – Note that Mt. Snow is about 10 miles from Stratton so see Stratton Hotels as well. I spent a weekend there in 2023. The nice part is that there is really only one base so hard to get lost but also a pretty small and crowded mountain.
    • Chase: The Inn at Mount Snow
  • Mount Sunapee (New Hampshire) – Sunapee is a small mountain, but very close to Boston and a good place for beginners and familes. Lots of people do Sunapee as a day trip but there are a few small hotels and B&B’s scattered around.
    • Chase: Mountain Edge Resort, Sunapee Lake Lodge

Bonus Info for Fellow Bostonians

Airlines that fly direct from Boston to ski destinations

  • Salt Lake City (SLC): Delta (delta has about 3 flights per day; for the return they have a morning, evening and red eye), Jet Blue (note that Jet Blue has one flight per day in each direction and the return is a red eye)
  • Denver (DEN): Southwest, United, Jet Blue
  • Bozeman, MT (BZN) – Big Sky(64 min): Jet Blue has a few direct flights a month mostly near vacation weeks, otherwise, it would involve a stop on: United (DEN), Alaska (SEA), Delta (MSP, SLC)

Airlines that fly from Boston to ski destinations with one stop:

  • Redmond, OR (RDM) – Bachelor(50 min): Alaska (SEA, PDX), Delta (SLC), United (DEN, SFO), American (LAX)
  • Reno, NV (RNO) – Heavenly(61 min), Squaw (52 min), Northstar (45 min): American (Various), Delta (SLC), Southwest (DEN), United (DEN), Jet Blue (JFK)
  • Aspen, CO (ASE) – Aspen(11 min), Snowmass (13 min): United (DEN)
  • Yampa Hayden, CO (HDN) – Steamboat(35 min): United (DEN); note in prior years there have been direct flights from Boston, but haven’t seen them this year yet, but keep checking
  • Vancouver, BC (YVR) – Whistler(124 min): Air Canada (YUL, YYZ), American (DFW), United (ORD), Delta (SEA, MSP)
  • Mammoth Lakes, CA (MMH) – Mammoth(21 min): Alaska from LAX
  • Jackson Hole, WY (JAC) – Jackson Hole(45 min): United (DEN), Delta (SLC)

Please note that I am writing this from the perspective of someone that lives on the east coast so I am including some of the better east coast “driving mountains” in the mix of the worthwhile even though no one would fly from California for them.

Hotels Marriott Hilton IHG Hyatt Skiing Winter

Dialogue & Discussion