In the old days of skiing, you bought a pass for one mountain and that’s where you skied.

No more.

These days, ski passes are all about options.

For example, Monarch Mountain’s 2015-16 season pass includes three days of skiing at Copper Mountain, Loveland, Purgatory, Ski Cooper, Pajarito, Sipapu and Arizona Snowbowl; one free day at Silverton; half-price tickets at Sunlight and Powderhorn; and access to Hochkossen, Kampenwand, Wendelstein, Oberaundorf and Masella.

The 2015-16 Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus is good for unlimited access to Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Eldora and limited access to Steamboat, Crested Butte, Mt. Ruapehu, Alyeska and Cardrona.

This seaon’s Vail Resorts Epic Pass gives you unlimited access to 11 mountains – Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton – and a few international resorts.

If you’re the parent of a fifth- or sixth-grader, wax up those skis. A whole season of free skiing or snowboarding awaits the kids if you sign up for the Colorado Passport programs.

But don’t wait until the lifts are running to buy your pass. Some deals expired in September, many others will expire Oct. 11-17, or in October and in November and December. It seems with each passing week (pun intended), the price of your pass increases. So buy early.

Something else to consider: There also are lift ticket deals available only at special events held throughout Colorado during Labor Day weekend and before the season begins. These deals are particularly handy if you’ll ski or ride only a few times a season or if you have friends or family visiting and everyone wants a low-cost day on the slopes.

HERE’S A GUIDE TO DEALS AND PASSES FOR THE 2015-16 SNOW SEASON.

(See those “crossed out” prices? They give you an idea of how dramatically prices increase the longer you wait to purchase. If you see something amiss or have a great tip to share, email dena@outtherecolorado.com.)

MONARCH MOUNTAIN

This southern Colorado ski area is a favorite for its abundant snow, short lift lines and laid-back vibe. Some gripe about the runs being too short, but if you get tired of what Monarch offers, you have 29 other ski areas from which to choose. (First, though, hit Mirkwood Basin and try Monarch’s cat skiing.)

Monarch has been touting its pass as “one planet, one pass.” And that’s not far off. In addition to skiing Monarch you get three unrestricted days at Copper Mountain, Loveland, Purgatory, Ski Cooper, Pajarito, Sipapu and Arizona Snowbowl; one free day at Silverton; half-price tickets at Sunlight and Powderhorn; and access to Hochkossen, Kampenwand, Wendelstein, Oberaundorf and Masella.

You also get a buddy ticket each day ($49 at the ticket window), discounts on Monarch lessons, gear, food and childcare as well as discounts at area businesses.

Cost (through Nov. 28 Dec. 20): $449 $489 (ages 16-61), $259 $299 ages 13-15, $149 $159 ages 7-12, and $299 $339 for ages 62-68. Kids ages 3-6 and seniors ages 69 and older ski free after paying a $20 processing fee. The ski area also offers a $199 military discount pass for skiers and riders ages 13-61.

Prices increase Nov. 29 ($159 to $509).

Where to buy: skimonarch.com

Vail Mountain Skiing - OutThere Colorado
Opening day at Vail Mountain, 2015. Courtesy of Vail Resorts

VAIL RESORTS

If you like big mountains with endless terrain and the freedom to bounce among huge ski areas, the Epic Pass might be for you. With unlimited skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton – and international resorts (Perisher is included) – it’s for those who want to ski a lot. Cost: $769 $789 $809 for adults and teens, $399 $409 $419 for children ages 5-12

If you don’t see yourself needing $$$ worth of skiing, a cheaper option is the Epic Local Pass, formerly known as the Colorado Pass. It includes unlimited skiing at Breckenridge, Keystone, A-Basin, Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton, 10 restricted days at Vail and Beaver Creek, and limited skiing at Park City, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood. Cost: $579 $599 $619 for adults, $459 $469 $479 for ages 13-18 and $299 $309 $319 for ages 5-12.

Maybe you’re a Summit County rat? The Summit Value Pass is good for unlimited skiing at A-Basin and Keystone and restricted skiing at Breckenridge. Cost: $489 $509 $519 for adults, $389 $399 $409 ages 13-18, $269 $289 $299 ages 5-12

Or you simply can ski two areas with the Keystone/A-Basin Pass. Cost: $299 $309 $319 for adults and teens, $219 $229 $239 ages 5-12.

Do you want variety of terrain without commitment for so many days on the slopes? Take a look at Vail Resorts’ Epic 7-Day and Epic 4-Day passes. The 7-Day pass gives you seven unrestricted days at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, A-Basin, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood and seven days at Afton Alps or Mt. Brighton for $579 $599 $619 adults or $299 $309 $319 kids. The 4-Day pass applies to the same ski areas (with four days at Afton Alps or Mt. Brighton) for $389 $419 $429 and $219 $229 $239.

The passes all include the option to buy 6 Ski-With-A-Friend tickets. Don’t wait too long if any of these passes seem like a good fit; prices may increase as high season nears.

Where to buy: snow.com/epic-pass and Colorado Ski & Golf locations.

COPPER MOUNTAIN, WINTER PARK AND STEAMBOAT SPRINGS

Another popular multi-mountain option is the Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus, good for unlimited access to Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Eldora and limited access to Steamboat, Crested Butte, Mt. Ruapehu, Alyeska and Cardrona. Cost: $559 $579 $599 for adults (18-69), $429 $439 $449 ages 13-17, $299 $309 $319 ages 6-12, $429 $439 $449 ages 70+, $429 $439 $449 for full-time college students with ID. Military discounts are available for $379 $399 $419 ($239 $249 $259 for kids ages 6-12).

If you’re a huge fan of Copper and Winter Park, the Rocky Mountain Super Pass might be your best option. It includes unlimited access to the two ski areas and restricted access to Mt. Ruapehu. Cost: $469 $499 for adults (18-69), $379 $399 ages 13-17, $269 $289 ages 6-12, $379 $399 ages 70+, $379 $399 for full-time college students. Military discounts are available for $329 $369 ($209 $229 for kids ages 6-12).

Another great option is the Route 40 Pass, which provides unlimited access to Winter Park and four days at Steamboat. Cost: $469 $479 for adults (18-69), $379 $389 ages 13-17, $269 $279 ages 6-12, $379 $389 ages 70+, $359 for full-time college students. Military discounts are available for $329 ($209 for kids ages 6-12).

The passes offer discounts for friends and family tickets as well as discounts on gear rentals and purchases and lodging. Prices are likely to rise as high season approaches.

Where to buy: skicolorado.com/MultiMountain_SeasonPasses.html and Christy Sports shops.

Telemark skiing at Ski Cooper - OutThere Colorado
Telemark skiing at Ski Cooper

SCHOOL OF SHRED/PASSPORT PROGRAMS

Parents of fifth- and sixth-graders can acquire a pass for their kids from Vail Resorts, good for free access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone and a free first-time ski or ride lesson with equipment rental.

Where to get it: Colorado Ski & Golf, Colorado Ski & Sport or Boulder Ski Deals.

5th and 6th Grade Passports: Trade group Colorado Ski Country USA offers free days at all 20 member resorts for fifth-graders. The group also offers a $99 pass for sixth-graders, good for four days at all 20 ski areas.

Where to get it: coloradoski.com/passport

MILITARY DEALS
Active-duty service members can find great deals at most resorts. Among the offers:
+ Monarch Mountain: Season pass is $199 for active-duty military. Must have a military ID valid through April 13. Call 1-719-530-5105 to order.
+ Vail Resorts: The Vail Resorts Liberty Pass is good for unlimited skiing at Keystone and A-Basin. This year’s price has not been set. It sold for $209 in the past.
+ Ski Cooper: Active-duty and retired military can get an adult pass for $189 and a child pass for $99.
Where to buy: Most passes can be bought at Fort Carson, the Air Force Academy and Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases, as well as other military installations. Check resort websites for details and other deals.

MORE DEALS
If you’re the traveling type and expect to spend as much time outside Colorado as in, check out these pass deals: Mountain Collective, Powder Alliance and the M.A.X. Pass.

Check out the discounts offered by purchasing a $20 Gems Card.

Go for the gusto! The Colorado Ski Country USA Gold Pass provides unlimited access to 20 Colorado ski areas all season for $3,200. There are no blackout dates and the pass is fully transferable, so you can share the pass with family members, friends and co-workers.

Sarah Gibeau Rides The Schauffler Chute in Montezuma Bowl at Arapahoe Basin - OutThere Colorado
Sarah Gibeau of Colorado Springs rides the Schauffler chute in Montezuma Bowl at Arapahoe Basin. Photo Credit: Christian Murdock

ARAPAHOE BASIN

A-Basin is a favorite among locals and, since the lifts often run from October to June, has one of the longer ski seasons in North America. Its season pass is good for unlimited skiing there and, this season, three days at New Mexico’s Taos Ski Valley and one unguided day at Silverton. Passes include discounts on lessons and discounts on friends and family tickets as well as discounts on food and gear. Cost: $299 $309 ages 19+, $219 $229 ages 15-18, $159 ages 6-14.

A-Basin also offers the four-day Elevation 4 Pass for $139 $149 ages 15+ and $99 ages 6-14 – prices good through Sept. 7. A transferable 4-pack is $159 $169.
Where to buy: arapahoebasin.com

LOVELAND SKI AREA

The closest ski resort to Denver offers great deals. The pass includes free days at Monarch, Durango, Crested Butte and Powderhorn. Cost: $389 $429 for adults, $279 $319 ages 15-22, $179 $199 ages 6-14 and $89 for ages 70+.

For those with flexible schedules, the Midweek Pass is a great way to save money. You can see Mondays through Fridays all season for $269 $309 and get three free days at Monarch thrown in for good measure.

Loveland also sells four-day passes for $139 (until Nov. 22). If you don’t want to go all-in on a pass, you can buy a $44 card ($53 beginning Dec. 12) good for discounted lift tickets, and the first and every fifth day are free.
Where to buy: skiloveland.com

SKI COOPER

This small area near Leadville is great for families as you can let the kids loose without worrying about them getting lost. The season pass comes with three days at partner resorts including Monarch. Cost: $379 for adults, $175 ages 6-14, $299 ages 60-69, $149 ages 70-79. Kids 5 and younger and seniors 80 and older pay a nominal free to process a pass. Military discounts provide access all season for $189 ($99 for ages 6-14).

You can buy an XP Pass that gives you four days on the mountain this season for $109 (it’s nontransferable).
Where to buy: skicooper.com

ELDORA MOUNTAIN

This regional ski area offers deals. An adult super value pass, which includes some blackout dates, costs $299 $309 for adults, an adult off-peak pass (some blackout dates) costs $339 $349. A family pass for four people costs $999 $1,049. Junior passes (ages 13-17) cost $259 $269 and children’s passes (ages 6-12) are $219 $229. A pass for a senior (65+) costs $259 $269. College students can pay $189 and active military can pay $259 $269.

Four-packs of tickets (non-transferable) cost $189 $199.
Where to buy: eldora.com

COPPER MOUNTAIN

Copper’s season passes include unlimited skiing and riding at Copper Mountain and 3 days at Purgatory and Monarch, free skiing at Grand Targhee and 3 free days at Taos Ski Valley. Cost is $409 $429 $439 for adults; $319 $329 $339 for college students; $319 $329 $339 for teens ages 13-17; $239 $249 $259 for children ages 6-12; and $319 $329 $339 for ages 65 and older.

Copper’s Four Pack includes 4 days of skiing & riding (no blackout dates, but non-transferable), discounts for additional tickets and other discounts at the ski area for $169 $179.
Where to buy: coppercolorado.com

ASPEN / SNOWMASS

Season passes give you access to Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass. An adult pass is $2059 (through Nov. 13) $2099; $619 for college students ages 18-24, teenagers and children; $1679 $1,849 for ages 65-69; and $459 for ages 70 and older. If your time is limited, or you’ll be in the area off and on throughout the season, a flex or double flex pass might be your best bet. It provides access to the four mountains one or two days a week for $1059 or $1719 $1,109 or $1859.
Where to buy: aspensnowmass.com

Crested Butte Mountain Resort - OutThere Colorado
Skiing fresh powder at Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

CRESTED BUTTE

Season passes give you unlimited access to the mountain and four discounted “buddy” tickets; 3 days at Loveland; 3 days at Purgatory with lodging and up to three half-price days; half-price at Powderhorn; and three days at Powder Alliance resorts, among other mountain discounts. Cost (through Nov. 25): $629 $835 for adults; $315 $419 for ages 13-17; $419 $555 ages 70+; $209 $275 for ages 7-12; and $519 for college students.
Where to buy: skicb.com

PURGATORY

Purgatory, known for a while as Durango Mountain Resort, offers season passes with access to other ski areas around the country and in Italy. Among other perks, Power Pass holders have unlimited access to Purgatory, Snowbowl, Sipapu and Pajarito and 3 days at Copper Mountain, Crested Butte (3 days with lodging reservation or 3 half-price days without lodging), Loveland, Monarch, Powderhorn, Sunlight, Powder Mountain and Brian Head in Utah, Grand Targhee in Wyoming, Taos in New Mexico and Skirama Dolomiti in Italy.
Cost (through Oct. 23 Nov. 13 Dec. 18, when prices jump!) is $749 $849 $899 for ages 30-64; $479 $519 $549 for ages 18-29; $399 $439 $469 for ages 13-17 (or $369 $429 $439 with a parent); $339 $359 $379 for ages 6-12 (or $269 $329 $349 with a parent); $499 $599 $649 for ages 65-79; and $99 $109 $119 for ages 80+. A weekday pass is $489 $589 $639. College students pay $449 $469 $499.

Where to buy: purgatoryresort.com

HESPERUS SKI AREA

The ski area is up for sale. This season’s passes will cost (through Nov. 7): $350 $425 adults, $175 $225 juniors and seniors, $300 $350 students and $225 $350 night sessions. Family passes cost $550 $625 (adult plus 1), $600 $700 (adult plus 2), $675 $775 (adult plus 3), $750 $850 (adult plus 4) and $850 (adult plus 5 or more).
Info: ski-hesperus.com

HOWELSEN HILL

This local hill and ski jump training center in Steamboat Springs offers lower pass rates than you might expect: $180 for adults; $120 ages 6-18; $100 ages 65+; $395 for a family (adult plus spouse and all minor children living at home); and $120 for college students.
Where to buy: steamboatsprings.net

KENDALL MOUNTAIN SKI HILL

This family friendly ski and snow play area near Silverton offers season passes. Cost (based on 2014-15 prices): $275 for a local family (up to 4); $325 for a nonlocal family; $175 for ages 18-64; $125 for ages 6-17; and $125 for ages 65 and older.
Where to buy: skikendall.com

LAKE CITY SKI HILL

This family hill – a 1,000-foot platter lift that feeds four runs – is run by the town of Lake City. it’s off Colorado 149, about 1 mile south of town.
Where to buy: Watch for news on Facebook, facebook.com/lakecityskihill

POWDERHORN MOUNTAIN RESORT

A season pass includes unrestricted access to Powderhorn, discounts at partner resorts and deals on the mountain (rentals, lessons, food and beverages, etc.). Cost: $599 $649 for adults ages 18-64; $455 $489 ages 13-17; $299 $319 ages 7-12; $112 ages 6 and younger; $495 $545 ages 65-74; $118 $129 ages 75 and older; $369 college students (vacation break passes available); and $369 military. Skiers and riders who can regularly hit the mountain on weekdays can save a bundle. Midweek passes are $254 to $480 $519. The resort offers a discounted family pass and also discounted access to Aspen Snowmass for those with full-season Powderhorn passes. If you’ll only hit Powderhorn a couple of days a season, look into the P-Card, which provides access to the mountain for one day at $69 and then gives users a $20 discount on additional lift tickets.
Where to buy: powderhorn.com

Carl Seaver Advising Ski Group on Ropety Dope at Silverton Mountain Ski Area - OutThere Colorado
Carl Seaver watches as his guide advises his ski group on the finer points of Ropety Dope at Silverton Mountain Ski Area.

SILVERTON MOUNTAIN

Silverton offers unguided season access for $299 and that price includes 5 free days at Arapahoe Basin, Monarch Mountain and Powderhorn Mountain as well as half-price heli skiing and discounts on guided trips. Kids 17 and younger get 13 days of unguided skiing for $59. For $599 you get some unguided access to the mountain during guided-only season and other discounts. Looking for another bargain? Act now and buy Crazy Eddie’s $69 Silverton Sunday Unguided Pass, which includes 5 Sundays of unguided skiing/boarding during scheduled unguided skiing on Dec. 20 and 27, Jan. 3, April and 10.
Where to buy: silvertonmountain.com

SKI GRANBY RANCH

Families who purchase season passes to this ski area 90 miles west of Denver can customize their passes to a greater degree than they can at most mountains and all season pass holders get 3 free days each at Ski Cooper and Sunlight. Cost (before Nov. 9 Dec. 17) is $289 $339 for ages 19-60; $159 $179 ages 13-18; $119 $139 ages 6-12; free ages 5 and younger; $249 ages 61-69; $59 ages 70 and older; and $229 military ages 13 and older ($89 ages 6-12). Families of three or four people cost $627 to $806 $735 to $932, depending on the age of skiers and riders. Four-pack lift tickets are $99 $144 (non-transferable) and $129 $169 (transferable).
Where to buy: granbyranch.com

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS

Season pass holders receive discounts around the ski resort and can purchase an add-on pass to Winter Park for $149. Cost for a season pass: $1,379 for ages 18-69; $799 ages 13-17; $559 ages 6-12; $709 ages 70 and older; $779 for college students (purchase by Nov. 30). One skier or rider age 12 or younger can ski for free if a parent or grandparent purchases a season pass. Pass holders can add night skiing for $99. Steamboat 6 and Steamboat 15 passes can be used any day throughout the season and allow buyers to purchase additional days at a discount. A night-only season pass costs $209.
Where to buy: steamboat.com

SUNLIGHT MOUNTAIN RESORT

Season passes at Sunlight include discounts at the resort and in Glenwood Springs as well as 3 free days at Ski Cooper, Purgatory, Ski Granby Ranch, Sipapu, and 12 other ski areas around the country. Cost (before Nov. 1) is $439 $529 for ages 18-64; $349 $449 for college students; $299 $399 ages 13-17; $220 $299 ages 6-12; and $299 $399 ages 65-79. There is no cost for skiers and riders ages 5 and younger or 80 and older. A midweek pass costs $349 $449 for the season. Five- and 10-day passes to Sunlight cost $239 and $369 $439. Family passes cost $1,449 $1,800 or less.
Where to buy: sunlightmtn.com

Scott Wickberg at Wolf Creek Ski Area - OutThere Colorado
Scott Wickberg of Denver rides Alberta Peak into Step Bowl at Wolf Creek Ski Area. Photo Credit: Christian Murdock

TELLURIDE SKI RESORT

A season pass at Telluride Ski Resort also provides 3 free days at Snowbasin in Utah, in addition to discounts on the mountain (rentals, purchases, lessons and more). Cost is $1,150 $1,989 for ages 25-64; $279 $489 ages 6-12; $369 $639 ages 13-18; $735 $1,379 ages 19-24 and ages 65-69; $625 $949 ages 70-79; and $25 ages 5 and younger. Skiers and riders age 80 or older can access the mountain at no cost.
Where to buy: tellurideskiresort.com

WINTER PARK RESORT

Skiers and snowboarders can get full or partial access to Winter Park via bundled packages (see above) or by purchasing a season pass to the resort itself. Cost of a Winter Park season pass, which includes 7 days at Mt. Ruapehu and 3 days at Hlidarfjall, is: $429 $439 ages 18-69; $329 $339 college students, teens 13-17 and seniors age 70 or older; $249 $259 ages 6-12; and $30 ages 5 and younger. Season passes provide discounts on friends/family lift tickets and deals throughout the resort.
Where to buy: winterparkresort.com

WOLF CREEK SKI AREA

Wolf Creek offers several discount-ticket days during the season – local appreciation days (no ID required), senior day, college student days and women’s clinics. Season passes include resort discounts. Cost is: $913 for ages 18-64; $403 ages 65 and older; $704 ages 13-18; $367 ages 6-12; and $54 ages 5 and younger. Adults can save money by limiting skiing and riding weekdays – $642. Members of the same family, supported by the same income, receive discounts.
Where to buy: wolfcreekski.com

Resorts covered in packages mentioned above (see Vail Resorts):

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