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  • Why Buy a Season Pass?

    Plus.... Season Pass Deals in Tahoe

    By Tammie Thompson

    Photo courtesy Rossingnol My parents were hooked on skiing. Only problem was that we lived in New Jersey and they loved Vermont. All it took was a season pass to turn that problem into an opportunity. We lined up for pass photos at Mad River Glen and never looked back. Sure we put lots of miles on the station wagon, but hey, we never got so many days in as that first season with passes.

    Now I live in Truckee-Tahoe snow country. But I'm amazed at how many friends and neighbors don't take the season pass plunge. There are lots of excuses: too expensive, we won't use it; kids have other things to do. Get over it! There's no better time to take the season pass plunge than right now. Here's why:

  • Season passes give you flexibility. Snowing too hard? Take a run and go home to bake cookies.

  • Wake up to a gorgeous bluebird day? Take a few runs and hit the office in the afternoon. (There's always home schooling.)

  • Offers the flexibility to test the snow, your legs, your little one's temperament and more. There's always another day when it comes to season passes.

  • Value. How many days does it take to ski off your pass? Used to be a good pass rate was 21 days. Do the math. These days it can take as little as three days to earn back your dough. On average it's about 10. Anything after that is gravy.

  • Treat your family. Suck it up and commit to a season of family adventure. What do I remember about growing up? Our season passes at Mad River - family time.

  • Pass Wars. While the deals of the nineties have faded just a bit, resorts are still battling it out, trying to get your dollars earlier. Translates into better value for you.

  • Resort camaraderie. Get to know the resort. Experience how the snow changes from one day to the next. How subtle changes in terrain give you a new taste of exhilaration.

  • Bonding: Have the kids join the ski team or ski club. They'll make new friends, have a reason to go out in foul weather, and you'll have some time to yourself. Join the Master's program and get the adrenaline going. Meet other families who share the love of snow.

  • Get better. Ask anyone who has skied or boarded for a while. It's all about mileage. On snow that is. The more you put in the more you get out.

  • Bragging Rights. Season pass veterans flaunt their time on snow. I know a family who has put 25 years of season passes on a loop in their powder room. Years of photos of Dad with side burns, long hair, short hair, gray hair, no hair. Boy they must be good skiers!

    For every season pass that goes out, there's probably another reason for season pass plunge and commitment. And that's what it comes down to, commitment. Sure it's tough to get the clan rolling, pack lunches, and collect mittens, boots, and even the elusive pass. But it's tough to find a family that says it's not worth it. All it takes are a few turns, and the next thing you know you're on the chairlift with a smile, saying, "yeah, we have passes."

    Early season pass deals worth looking at in Tahoe resorts:

    - Double Whammy Pass - Buy by Sept. 30
    You can ski or ride at both Northstar-at-Tahoe and Sierra-at-Tahoe. If you go with the value pass, you can ski everyday but Saturday and holiday blackout dates for $389. Upgrade to a Limited Double Whammy and you get Saturdays included for $529. Go unlimited (includes holidays) for $729. All passes increase in price after Sept. 30.

    - North Lake Tahoe Combo Pass
    Alpine Meadows has teamed up with their new partner, Homewood, to offer a combo pass valid at both resorts. Midweek adult passes are $649; full passes are $1199. Teens (13-18) get the full pass for $439. Single resort passes are also available. Expect to see price increases in daily ticket rates for both resorts as Alpine's new owner, JMA Ventures, adds more amenities.

    - Sugar Royal Pass
    Get in shape for those steep descents at Sugar Bowl with a cardio workout at Royal Gorge. Adult midweek combo passes are available for $499; slightly restricted passes for $899 and unrestricted for $1149.

    - Beginner Pass at Diamond Peak
    A beginner of any age can get a season pass for just $109. With all that skiing or riding you won't be a beginner for long! Regular adult full season passes are $454.

    - Night Skiing or Riding Passes
    You've missed the early deadline at Squaw Valley, but there's still time for an unlimited night riding pass for $199 for adults and $149 for youth (13-18). Perfect for hitting the park, the night pass gives you cable car access to Riviera Park. Kids 12 and under still ski for a daily rate of $5.

    - Family Pass
    Soda Springs is focused on families. The Family Pass gets you two adult season passes, plus unlimited children (5-12) for just $399. The best part? It includes access to all lifts AND snow tubing tows. Season long adult passes are $199. Kids are $99; both include tubing.

    - Keepin' it Low
    Donner Ski Ranch still offers one of the least expensive full season pass out there - just $249 for adults (on sale now, they may increase on undetermined date).

    - Midweek at Boreal / Night Pass
    The SuperSaver Pass is just $199 and gets you unlimited midweek lift access. For students and working warriors the Night Pass is a great option. Just $99, the pass is good 3:30 to 9pm all season, plus daily when Boreal ceases night operations in March.

    Going? Get on it as many early season deals end soon.

    Archived articles:

    Want more on winter family fun? Be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter to get the latest on winter family travel & gear deals, plus tips to make your life easier! Ollie in!

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