Last Updated on by Rodrigo @ OutofYourComfortZone
Got yourself an Indy Pass for the 2023-2024 season? Wondering which ski/snowboard resorts are worth fitting into your travel plans for this year? Read on for our personal ranking of the best Indy Pass resorts (focusing on The Rockies & The PNW), plus itinerary ideas, where to stay on a budget, and more.
In the world of ski passes, the Indy Pass is certainly changing up the game.
Coming in at a fraction of the price of the “mega” passes like Epic or Ikon, the Indy Pass gives you 2 days each at 120+ non-traditional, independent, and ‘authentic’ ski resorts scattered across North America.
But if you’ve got yourself an Indy Pass, perhaps you’re wondering which of these 120+ Indy Pass resorts are best. In which case, we’ve got you covered!
Over this last season, my husband and I had the chance to visit 14 Indy Pass resorts across The Rockies and Pacific Northwest. And we put together this article with our personal ranking of them all to help you in your Indy Pass itinerary planning.
But before we get to the rankings…
Table of Contents
- 1 Is the Indy pass worth getting? How does the Indy Pass compare to the Epic, Ikon, or Mountain Collective passes?
- 2 What’s the difference between the Indy Pass and the Indy+ Pass? Should I get an Indy Pass or Indy+ Pass?
- 3 OUR RANKING OF THE BEST INDY PASS RESORTS IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST & THE ROCKIES
- 4 Indy Pass Itinerary Ideas for the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest
- 5 In sum…
- 6 In conclusion…
- 7 Planning your next trip?
Is the Indy pass worth getting? How does the Indy Pass compare to the Epic, Ikon, or Mountain Collective passes?
In our humble opinion, the Indy Pass is absolutely worth getting.
Over the years, we’ve been lucky enough to try many of the “mega” passes like Epic and Mountain Collective. And while it’s tons of fun to hit up some of the massive, world-famous resorts (like Park City, Big Sky, Telluride, etc.)…
I think this last season we spent skiing on the Indy just *may* have been my favorite!
We loved the “local” feel of the mountains, the chance to visit more off-the-beaten parts of the United States that we may not have explored otherwise, and, of course, the price. (The basic Indy Pass comes in at just $300…for reference, you’d pay significantly more than that just for TWO days of skiing in many large resorts.)
And perhaps best of all…almost no lines! Which meant days of easier parking, less time waiting and more time skiing, and easier access to powder and groomed runs that hadn’t been skied out yet.
Sometimes, people get a little pretentious and complain about the slower lifts or smaller verts of Indy Pass resorts.
But we’re of the mind that you can have fun skiing or boarding just about anywhere with the right attitude. And no matter the size or type of terrain, there’s always some new skill you can train. So, we definitely think the benefits of the Indy Pass resorts outweigh any downfalls.
Of course, if you haven’t yet tried one of the “mega” passes yet, then they might be worth looking into. But certainly don’t discount the Indy, especially if you live in an area like we do (Boise, Idaho) that has easy-ish access to many Indy resorts.
What’s the difference between the Indy Pass and the Indy+ Pass? Should I get an Indy Pass or Indy+ Pass?
The major difference between the two is that the Indy+ Pass has no blackout dates.
Both passes will give you two days of skiing at each of their 120+ participating resorts (as well as discounted lift tickets for any additional days you want to ski at said resorts).
But with the basic Indy Pass, each resort decides on its blackout date policy. So some resorts have no blackout dates, some have blackout dates during holidays, and some have blackout dates every weekend.
If you have some flexibility in your schedule and can fit in some weekday skiing, then the basic Indy Pass should be plenty.
However, if you’re more limited on when you’re available to ski and will probably have to stick to weekends or holidays, then you’ll probably want to grab an Indy+ pass. This way, you don’t have to worry about any blackout dates getting in your way.
OUR RANKING OF THE BEST INDY PASS RESORTS IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST & THE ROCKIES
Obligatory disclaimer: the ranking below is based on our personal experience at each resort, and only includes the Indy resorts we actually got the chance to visit (we live in Boise, Idaho, so we focused on the ones in The Rockies and the PNW that were within 8 hours of driving from us).
As I’m sure you know, ski resort conditions can change significantly from day to day, so we can’t guarantee your experience anywhere.
For example, one of our favorite days of skiing this year was at a tiny, middle-of-nowhere resort in Idaho called Pomerelle (ranked as #11 on the list below). But that was a unique occasion that likely can’t be replicated since A) there had just been a snowstorm, and B) it was a weekday with almost no one else there. So we were able to have the entire mountain (with fresh powder up to our knees!) almost entirely to ourselves.
With this in mind, our rankings below are based on a predicted “normal” day of skiing (in other words, Pomerelle remains ranked quite low as we don’t believe that’s a “typical” experience) and include the quality and variety of runs, the atmosphere, and the overall “trip” experience of traveling to the ski resort itself (nearby places to go, scenic views, etc.).
Alongside each resort mentioned, I’ll talk a bit about the quality of the skiing as well as where you can stay nearby on a budget. And at the end of the article, you can find a map with some Indy Pass itinerary ideas for how you can group different resorts into one trip. Enjoy!
1. Powder Mountain, Eden, Utah
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Powder Mountain *just* might be the best Indy Pass resort in the United States, not just in the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest.
For one, it’s massive (it claims to have the largest skiable terrain in the United States, and I’d believe it!). And true to its name, they have amazing annual snowfall that means you can just about always find hidden stashes of powder to play in.
Plus, since they limit the number of daily lift tickets, you won’t be jostling for space (or powder) with a million other skiers. They even have $25 snowcat skiing, which is quite a steal.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Since Powder limits the number of skiers on the mountain each day, Indy Pass holders are required to make a reservation at least 5 days before their first day of skiing. Take a look at this page here for more details.
WHERE TO STAY ON A BUDGET NEAR POWDER MOUNTAIN
Unless you want to make the drive in from Salt Lake City, your best bet is probably going to be Ogden.
Ogden is a large suburb north of Salt Lake that’s just 40 minutes away from Powder. You should be able to find lots of options for budget motels and hotels here.
2. Mt. Hood Meadows, Mt. Hood, Oregon
Our second favorite Indy Pass Resort was Mt. Hood Meadows.
We loved Mt. Hood Meadows not just for the quality of the skiing (it’s a big resort with everything from wide-open bowls to challenging glades to famous terrain parks), but for its overall beauty and the abundance of activities nearby.
Mt. Hood Meadows is located on the slopes of Mount Hood, just 65 miles from Portland. As expected, this lends itself to breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, as well as the imposing peak of Mount Hood itself.
That said, its proximity to Portland does make it one of the most popular ski resorts in the Pacific Northwest. So if possible, we recommend trying to go during the week or later in the season. (We went on a weekend at the end of March and it was pretty quiet.)
WHERE TO STAY ON A BUDGET NEAR MT. HOOD MEADOWS
Unfortunately, you aren’t going to find a ton of super budget-friendly accommodation options near Mt. Hood Meadows. However, you may be able to find some reasonable-ish motels or Airbnb in one of the small towns between Mt. Hood and Portland (Mt. Hood Village, Sandy, etc.).
If you don’t mind the drive, you could consider looking into hotels in Portland. Alternatively, you could consider staying on the other side of the mountain in Hood River, a lovely town right on the river famous for its kitesurfing.
(Side note: Hood River is super cool in the summer. So if you ever get the chance to visit then, definitely do!)
3. Mission Ridge, Wenatchee, Washington
To us, Mission Ridge felt like a true local’s mountain – complete with a friendly atmosphere, a mix of fun terrain, a convenient location (just 25 minutes away from charming Wenatchee), and the dramatic backdrop of the ridge that gave the resort its name.
On a clear day, you can even see the crisp, perfectly-pointed peaks of Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mt. Adams 100+ miles away.
While Mission Ridge might not have the same level of international recognition as some of the larger resorts, it’s definitely a local favorite. And with approximately 36 runs and 6 lifts, you’ll have ample opportunities for fun.
WHERE TO STAY ON A BUDGET NEAR MISSION RIDGE
Part of what makes a trip to Mission Ridge so great is that it gives you the chance to stay in charming Wenatchee, a town nestled in the valley of Washington’s fertile fruit-growing region.
Within Wenatchee, you’ll be able to find a handful of budget-friendly hotel options. Make sure you set aside some time to visit the town itself, as well!
4. Snow King, Jackson, Wyoming
To be frank, I probably wouldn’t have ranked Snow King quite as high if it wasn’t for its amazing location right in the heart of the Teton Range and immediately above the city of Jackson, just a few blocks from the famous Jackson Town Square.
The skiing is pretty solid, sure. (Plus, they have night skiing!)
But what really sold me on Snow King was the unreal view, made up of the imposing Grand Tetons and the charming cityscape of Jackson.
Plus, there’s tons to do in Jackson and the surrounding area. Explore Grand Teton National Park just down the road, make the 1-hour drive up to Yellowstone National Park, visit the National Elk Refuge on the outskirts of town…
WHERE TO STAY ON A BUDGET NEAR SNOW KING
I’ll be honest here. Jackson is not, and probably never will be, a budget destination.
If you’re really on a budget, try taking a look at Driggs, Idaho, about a 50-minute drive away.
Otherwise, the “cheapest” accommodation in Jackson is going to be the local Super8.
5. White Pass, Naches, Washington
Tucked within the beautiful Cascade Mountains and boasting breathtaking, up-close views of the majestic Mount Rainier, White Pass is a real treat for the eyes.
Plus, as one of the larger resorts on our list today, the skiing certainly isn’t bad either. 😉
And with more than 45 runs that range from beginner-friendly slopes to challenging expert runs and glades, there’s definitely something for everyone.
While you’re here, make sure to take some time to stop and enjoy the many incredible viewpoints on the White Pass Scenic Byway.
WHERE TO STAY ON A BUDGET NEAR WHITE PASS
Unless you’ve got the budget to stay right on the mountain (which – surprise! – we didn’t), you’re probably going to be staying about 50 miles away in the town of Yakima.
Honestly, Yakima isn’t the nicest of places. But there are a lot of reasonably cheap hotels and motels to choose from to help make up for that.
6. Brundage Ski Resort, McCall, Idaho AND 7. Tamarack Ski Resort, Tamarack, Idaho
Everyone who lives in Idaho has an opinion about which of these two neighboring resorts – both located near the scenic mountain town of McCall and both about two hours from Idaho’s capital city of Boise – is better.
So, I figured I’d group them together here as it was a close competition for us as well.
But ultimately, it was Brundage that won us over. As someone we met on the chairlift put it: “Tamarack is for vacationers. Brundage is for skiers.”
Overall, Tamarack tends to be more well-known and popular, offering up a resort-style ski experience with a big ski village (complete with million-dollar condos), wide-open groomed runs, and more developed amenities.
So if you’re a fan of the ski village experience, then definitely hit up Tamarack!
Brundage, on the other hand, had a more laid-back, uncrowded, and off-the-beaten-path vibe. It’s smaller and has less vert than Tamarack (though we’ve been told it has better snow!), but still has plenty of great terrain – particularly backcountry – to ski.
All that said, given the proximity of the two resorts, I definitely recommend visiting both on a single trip.
Pro tip: whether you’re visiting Tamarack or Brundage, make sure to check out the nearly Golden Fork Hot Springs! These beautiful and secluded natural hot springs are the perfect way to soothe sore legs after a long day on the slopes.
(Just make sure you bring cash, $10 per person, for the entrance fee! They don’t accept credit cards, and you won’t find an ATM around for miles.)
WHERE TO STAY ON A BUDGET NEAR BRUNDAGE AND/OR TAMARACK
If you happen to be visiting Boise, a day trip to Tamarack (2 hours each way) or Brundage (slightly above 2 hours each way) is easy enough to do.
Otherwise, your best bet is to stay in the cozy mountain town of McCall, set right on the shores of Payette Lake.
Unfortunately, McCall isn’t the cheapest place to stay as it’s the only “city” around and gets quite a lot of visitors. So if you want to stay overnight, make sure you book in advance!
7. Silver Mountain, Kellogg, Idaho
Silver Mountain is a great little gem. This year-round resort is tucked into the mountains of northern Idaho, just 30 minutes away from scenic Coeur d’Alene and just 1 hour away from Spokane, Washington’s second-largest city.
At Silver, you’ll find decent-sized and varied terrain, a family-friendly atmosphere, and additional attractions like a scenic gondola that’ll take you straight from Kellogg to the ski resort, a water park, and other regional things to do.
If you have some extra time, make sure to visit stunning Coeur d’Alene just 30 minutes away, or the Crystal Gold Mine just down the road from Kellogg.
NOTE: During the 2022-2023 Indy Pass season, we had to book our Silver Mountain lift tickets at least 5 days in advance. I’m not able to identify whether or not this will be a requirement for the upcoming season, so please double-check before your trip.
WHERE TO STAY ON A BUDGET NEAR SILVER MOUNTAIN
Believe it or not, there are some cheap accommodation options right in Kellogg (literally less than 1 mile away from the gondola that’ll take you up to Silver Mountain)!
We stayed at Trail Inn (also called Trail Hotel). This no-frills hotel cost us just $45/night in March 2023.
8. Beaver Mountain, Garden City, Utah
Beaver Mountain is a cozy, family-owned resort nestled in Utah’s beautiful Logan Canyon.
The resort has been owned and operated by the Seeholzer family since 1939, making it one of the oldest family-owned ski resorts in the United States. (In fact, the woman who gave us our tickets was the daughter-in-law of the founder!)
Though it’s a small resort, it’s retained an authentic, old-school feel that we think would appeal to anyone seeking a genuine and welcoming mountain experience.
Plus, it’s in Utah. So you know that snow has got to be good 🙂
WHERE TO STAY ON A BUDGET NEAR BEAVER MOUNTAIN
Beaver Mountain is a little isolated, so you’re probably going to want to seek out accommodation in the town of Logan, about 40 minutes west of Beaver.
Alternatively, if you wanted to stay right on the beautiful Bear Lake to the east, you could scope out accommodation options in Garden City. (Though these are likely to be more limited and pricey!)
9. Hoodoo Ski Resort, Sisters, Oregon
Hoodoo is a mellow, relaxed ski resort located in the picturesque Cascade Mountains.
While the resort itself is fairly average, its location near the ever-popular city of Bend makes it worth a visit.
(Plus, Hoodoo has night skiing if you’re looking for that!)
WHERE TO STAY ON A BUDGET NEAR HOODOO
Though it’s a bit of a drive to Hoodoo (about 1 hour), you’ll probably want to stay in Bend – the vibrant, outdoorsy city that 100,000 people call home.
Even during the winter, there’s tons to do in the Bend area. Relax in nearby hot springs, go snowmobiling or snowshoeing, join in on the fun during Bend WinterFest…
And make sure you don’t miss out on visiting the *last* Blockbuster in the world (yup, it’s relocated right in central Bend!).
10. Pomerelle, Albion, Idaho
Pomerelle is a small, humble ski resort located in Idaho’s Sawtooth National Forest.
Honestly, it’s probably not worth going out of your way to visit Pomerelle. We only decided to make the stop ourselves during our drive from Wyoming back home to Boise since we were kind of in the area. (That said, there was a snowstorm and zero lines…so we actually had a blast at Pomerelle the day we were there!).
WHERE TO STAY ON A BUDGET NEAR POMERELLE
I’d recommend looking at either Twin Falls (Idaho’s 2nd largest city –and well worth visiting to see Shoshone Falls and the Snake River Canyon!) or the nearby town of Burley.
11. Soldier Mountain, Fairfield, Idaho
My thoughts about Soldier Mountain are similar to my thoughts about Pomerelle above. Perhaps worth a half-day stop if you’re in the area…but also probably not worth going out of your way for.
WHERE TO STAY ON A BUDGET NEAR SOLDIER MOUNTAIN
Personally, we’d recommend making a day trip from Boise (about 2 hours each way) as there really aren’t any major towns around. Alternatively, you could look into accommodation options around Mountain Home (about 1:15 each way).
12. Kelly Canyon, Ririe, Idaho
Perhaps we caught Kelly Canyon on a bad day, but I have to admit we weren’t particularly impressed.
The resort was small (which we don’t necessarily mind)…but it was also very busy, made worse by the fact that two of the chairlifts weren’t working.
On the plus side, the drive to Kelly Canyon from Idaho Falls is nice. We even saw a moose!
WHERE TO STAY ON A BUDGET NEAR KELLY CANYON
Idaho Falls, Idaho’s third 3rd largest city, is just 40 minutes away. You should be able to find plenty of budget-friendly hotels and motels here.
13. 49 Degrees North, Chewelah, Washington
49 Degrees North is a moderate-sized ski resort situated in the Colville National Forest, located about an hour and a half north of Spokane.
Full disclosure: although 49 Degrees North was on our itinerary and we were already in Spokane preparing to go, we didn’t actually get the chance to ski here!
As we found out the hard way, their hours and days of operation are very limited later in the season… meaning that by mid-March, the resort only operates a few days a week. (And Thursday, the day we had planned to visit, wasn’t one of them.)
So although it may be a great resort, we have to rank it low for this list due to it being trickier to access. So if you’d like to visit, make sure you check their operation schedule first!
WHERE TO STAY ON A BUDGET NEAR 49 DEGREES NORTH
Although not a super budget-friendly city, something in either Spokane or Spokane Valley will probably be your cheapest option in the area.
Indy Pass Itinerary Ideas for the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest
Below, I’ve added a map with a few of my favorite Indy Pass “road trip” itineraries we did this year.
For each itinerary, I’ve included the recommended ski resorts as well as other recommended nearby attractions.
You can click the map below to zoom in and see each of the itineraries in more detail:
1. Indy Pass Utah: Beaver Mountain (#9) and Powder Mountain (#1)
2. Indy Pass “Best of” Central Idaho: Tamarack (#7) and Brundage (#6)
3. Indy Pass North Idaho & Washington: Silver Mountain (#8), 49 Degrees North (#14), Mission Ridge (#3), and White Pass (#5)
4. Indy Pass Oregon: Hoodoo (#10) and Mt. Hood Meadows (#2)
Here is our (personal) ranking of the best Indy Pass resorts in the Rockies and Pacific Northwest:
- Powder Mountain, Eden, Utah
- Mt. Hood Meadows
- Mission Ridge, Wenatchee, Washington
- Snow King, Jackson, Wyoming
- White Pass, Naches, Washington
- Brundage, McCall, Idaho
- Tamarack, McCall, Idaho
- Silver Mountain, Kellogg, Idaho
- Beaver Mountain, Garden City, Utah
- Pomerelle, Albion, Idaho
- Soldier Mountain, Fairfield, Idaho
- Kelly Canyon, Ririe, Idaho
- 49 Degrees North, Chewelah, Washington
And that’s all, folks! What do you think of these rankings? Have you been to any of these resorts yourself? Do you agree or disagree? What resorts are you most excited to visit this year? Or do you have any other questions about planning your Indy Pass trips?
Let us know in the comments below and we’ll get back to you!
Planning your next trip?
Already reserved your hotel or hostel? If not, we recommend Booking.com. They have a huge selection of hotels and hostels all over the world. Plus, in most cases, you can cancel your reservation without any costs up to a few days before the check-in date!
Still haven’t booked your plane ticket and want to save big? Take a look at Momondo. It’s a flight aggregator that combines several other ticket search websites to make it easier for you to compare prices and make sure you are getting the best deal.
And finally, will you need to rent a car during your trip? Then check out Rentalcar.com to search and compare car rental companies from all over the world in a single website. Then, you can find the cheapest price for the best car!
Planning your next trip?