Indy Pass sees popularity snowballing

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T0311RedMountainTown_c_HR [credit: Red Lodge Mountain]
The town of Red Lodge, Mont., is part of the charm of a visit to the Red Lodge Mountain ski area. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Red Lodge Mountain

Vail's Epic and Alterra Mountain Co.'s Ikon remain the dominant ski pass products in the U.S. market. But a third pass, geared toward independently owned ski areas, is quickly gaining traction.

Indy Pass, which was launched ahead of the 2019-2020 ski season by Oregon-based marketing agency owner Doug Fish, will feature 76 ski areas this year throughout the U.S. as well as in Canada and Japan.

Uptake of the pass has been impressive. During that first ski season, passholders recorded just 8,500 skier days, Fish said. Last year, that figure jumped to 96,000. This coming season, with sales significantly up, Fish has set a goal of 400,000 skier days. 

The pass offers access to ski areas in 23 states. And though its participating resorts are generally smaller than the mountains enjoyed by Epic and Ikon passholders, that's not always the case. For example, Indy Pass partners include Utah's Powder Mountain, which has the most skiable terrain in North America. Other sizable offerings include Jay Peak in Vermont, Red Lodge in Montana, 49 Degrees North in the state of Washington and Minnesota's Lutsen Mountain, which is the biggest ski area in the Midwest.

Fish said Indy Pass is geared primarily toward people who ski a few days a year and want to visit a variety of ski areas. As such, passholders are afforded just two days per year at each participating ski area, with a 25% discount on the third day. But the Indy Pass price is easy on the wallet, starting at $299 for adults, or $399 with no blackout dates. Passes for children 12 and under start at just $129.

He said the pass is ideal for young families where the parents are introducing the kids to the sport. "We can take care of all your lift tickets for the season for a family of four for under $800," Fish noted.

But he also said that approximately a quarter of Indy Pass customers are destination skiers who use it either as a standalone or to augment other pass products.

Places like Brundage in Idaho or Beaver Mountain in Utah, Fish pointed out, are far easier on the wallet than larger destination resorts scattered throughout the West and Northeast. 

"You can take two destination trips for the price of one if you visit Indy Pass resorts," Fish said. "And you are always within three hours of another resort." 

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