The growth can be explained in part by last season’s Covid-19 restrictions making travel harder and forcing many skiers to patronize mountains near home.
In any given market, the Indy resorts are likely to be the smaller, scrappier alternative, and most are not as big as their fancier brethren (though Utah’s Powder Mountain does spread to a whopping 8,464 acres). In Idaho, Sun Valley (18 lifts and refined amenities) is part of the Epic pass system, while Brundage Mountain (6 lifts and a reputation for great snow) is part of Indy. “I think a lot of the Indy Pass resorts have that cool, laid-back skiing vibe that you remember from when you were a kid,” said Ken Rider, Brundage’s general manager.
Unless you are a local, you may not have heard of the three California resorts on the Indy Pass (China Peak, Mt. Shasta and Snow Valley) or the six in Vermont (including Jay Peak and Magic Mountain). But that’s exactly how Indy folks like it, happy to avoid the weekend lines frequent at Vermont crowd-pleasers like Killington (Ikon) and Stowe (Epic).
The same applies to the six New York resorts on the Indy Pass — Catamount, Greek Peak, Snow Ridge, Swain, Titus and West Mountain — which do not come close to Hunter (Epic) or Windham (Ikon) when it comes to the number of skier visits.
But many Indy Pass buyers are seeking the joys of intimate resorts, especially as crowds and sticker shock for everything from gear rental to parking to food have grown at the more famous properties.
“My husband and I love Indy resorts because we just want to ski,” said Mary Nitschke, 32, from Norfolk, Mass., in an email. “We don’t care about fancy lodges and perfect grooming, and really dislike long lift lines and crowded trails. It feels great to support the smaller mountains where a lot of people are able to start skiing for a more affordable cost.”
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