As many single-resort season passes continue to rise to ridiculous prices (a season pass at Deer Valley will run you $2,685) and smaller resorts continue to struggle competing with multi-resort passes owned by the same company, like Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass, there has been a rising popularity in a new kind of pass.
Introducing the M.A.X. Pass, which features five days each at 44 different resorts across North America for only $729. Already have a season pass to one of the nearly four dozen mountains? For $379, get five days at the remaining 43 resorts with the M.A.X. Season Pass Add-On.
For the skier looking for a little extra adventure this winter, whether it’s exploring resorts across the country or spending more time in those right in their backyard, we’ve mapped out the best road trips for getting the most out of the M.A.X. Pass.
East Coast: 7 Days, 444 Miles, 10 Hours Driving
Wachusett, Stratton, Okemo, Killington, Loon, Sunday River, Sugarloaf
Including 13 ski areas across East Coast, the M.A.X. Pass is almost a no-brainer for the ice coaster looking to do a little exploration away from their home mountain this season. With so many options, we mapped out a seven-day trip, hitting a new mountain each day, for a sample platter of New England snow.
Starting from Boston, the first stop is a short hour-long drive to Wachusett Mountain, a 1,000-vertical-foot hill tucked in north central Massachusetts. After a day (or night, Wachusett is open till 10 p.m.), the next stop is Stratton Mountain Resort, a two-hour drive northwest in the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests of Vermont. Day three requires a quick 40-minute trip north to Ludlow, Vermont, and Okemo Mountain Resort. Rolling into the halfway point of the trip, day four is spent at the largest ski area in the eastern U.S., the Beast of the East itself, Killington.
Waving goodbye to the land of maple syrup and Ben and Jerry’s, a two-and-a-half-hour drive to the northeast ends at Loon Mountain, in the heart of New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. The trip wraps up in the most northeastern state in the Union, with one day at Sunday River and a final day at Sugarloaf, the second largest ski resort east of the Mississippi, after Killington, and the only East Coast resort to offer skiing above treeline.
Canada: 4 Days, 430 Miles, 8 Hours Driving
Nakiska, Kicking Horse, Kimberley, Fernie
For M.A.X. Passers looking to ski outside the U.S., four resorts bordering the Alberta/British Columbia border offer the perfect escape to the Great White North.
Only an hour east of Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway, Nakiska Ski Area, which hosted the 10 alpine events during the 1988 Winter Olympics, offers skiers with a need for speed the perfect first stop on their Canadian road trip.
Jumping back on the Trans-Canada for two and a half hours and crossing into British Columbia, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort may deserve more than a one-day stop. With the fourth highest vert in North America (only six feet shorter than Jackson Hole) as well as being selected as a new stop on the Freeride World Tour for 2018, Kicking Horse is a mountain playground with something for everyone.
Three hours to the south (with multiple must-stop hot springs on the way) sits Kimberley Alpine Resort, a small five-lift resort that still has nearly 2,500 feet of vertical to get your shred on. Finishing up the road trip is Fernie Alpine Resort with five enormous bowls and countless glades and chutes, the perfect end to a Canadian ski vacation.
Colorado: 4-5 Days, 350-550 Miles, 7-11 Hours Driving
Eldora, Winter Park, Copper, Steamboat, or Crested Butte
While it may be ground zero for Vail Resorts' corporate skiing conglomeration, Colorado is still home to some all-time ski destinations, five of those available on the M.A.X. Pass, a great option for those who are sick of the I-70 weekend warrior crowd and might want a longer trip to destinations more than a day-trip away from the Front Range.
Kicking off the Colorado trip is Eldora Mountain Resort, just over an hour drive from Denver. Located outside the hippie haven of Nederland, Eldora may not be the best skiing available in the Rockies, but it can act as a solid training day for getting those lungs used to skiing at 10,000 feet.
The backcountry accessible from the peak is also worth it for skiers looking to use their pass as a bump to more untouched terrain. Deeper into the Rockies, day two is spent at Winter Park Resort (which can also be accessed via the newly re-opened Ski Train). Day three moves farther west to Copper Mountain, nestled off I-70 between Silverthorne and Vail.
To wrap up the ultimate Colorado ski trip, there are two options. Two hours to the north sits Steamboat Resort, known for its trademarked Champagne Powder and gladed tree skiing. Three hours to the south, in a town only accessible by two roads, one of them closed in the winter, is Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Host to some of the most extreme skiing in the Rockies, CB is a must-ski for anyone looking to ski big lines in one of the last real ski towns in Colorado.
For those willing to make the trek, the drive from Steamboat to Crested Butte is just around five hours, but in winter conditions, be prepared for it to take longer.
Since the resorts on this list don’t even comprise half of the 44 resorts included on the M.A.X. Pass, below is a short list of awesome mountains well worth their own week-long ski vacation.
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