Why the Off-Season Means Steep Deals for Skiers

The slopes might be closed, but now is the perfect time to tap into savings for a chilly getaway.

During the off season, ski resorts across the country churn out deals that are hotter than ever to drum up a busy winter calendar. So if the snow has already started melting off your favorite mountain, that means it's time to get the scoop on the best deals for passes for next year.

The deals are best for die-hard skiers and snowboarders. In the spring, ski areas tend to put together early-bird discounts for their annual passes, and they also sell deeply discounted bulk passes that let you ski multiple mountains over multiple days. These passports come in a variety of packages—and prices—so you can pick the best option for you and your family or friends.

Though the deal is almost gone, Multi Alpine Experience, or M.A.X. pass, grants users access to 26 mountains for five days each. There are no blackout dates, and children under 17 have discounted youth passes. Visit resorts from Vermont to Ontario, through the Midwest and the west coast or stop at all 26. And since there are no limitations on when you use the passes, your ski vacation can last all month or span a few weekend trips here and there. The passes are good for the 2016-2017 winter season.

Of course, if you're more of a Colorado ski fan, the Epic Pass might be a better option. This pass offers varying levels at different price points, but even the lowest tier includes four unrestricted tickets to nine locations, plus four free days at Afton Alps or Mt. Brighton. This level has no restrictions, but no extras, either. The highest tier gets you 13 mountains, plus a visit to an international partner slope.

If you're planning a shorter trip, your best bet might be deals at individual mountain resorts. At Loveland Ski Area in Colorado, skiers who don't want season passes can pick up a No Restrictions 4Pak, which includes lift tickets with no blackout dates or restrictions, and can be shared with friends and family on the same day at any point in the season. John Sellers of Loveland Ski Area says the price of a 4Pak is typically a 50 percent savings over purchasing at the window. Over on the East Coast, visitors to Sugar Mountain in North Carolina can purchase a season pass for under $600, before July 5th, using a discount available online. What's more is that signing up for your favorite mountain's email list may put you on the receiving end of special flash sales and temporary discounts for season passes.

But why book now? Kevin Cooper at Kirkwood says it's simple math. "Walkup passes can be $100 at Northstar, and $86 at Kirkwood," and those are single-day passes at one mountain only. Instead of paying close to—or more than—$100 a day per mountain, off-season deals for the Epic Pass means you can score passes to all Colorado resorts, plus passes for international resorts for a little more than $800. Kevin says mid-week passes can sometimes run over $1000 each, a cost he remembers needing a resort job to work off. But booking now with a low down payment means your passes are locked in to the current rate, keeping you from having sticker shock at the gates. If you're planning to spend more than a day or two in the snow, packages like these are definitely the way to go to get more powder for your buck.