The fresh mountain air is calling us as the 2021-2022 ski season is here! We enjoyed hopping back onto skis and snowboards in early 2021. Epic snowfall has us excited to be back in the mountains in 2022. It feels toadally great to get back to the snow with plenty of physical distancing space in the great outdoors. Things move closer to normal this season but the mountains are still keeping safety in mind. Here's what to expect at the Ikon Pass destinations in 2021-2022.
Ultimately, skiing and snowboarding have always been outdoor, open-air and physically distanced activities. We felt toadally safe on the mountain last season, especially with safety protocols in place. In fact, skiing felt like one of the most normal activities we have done this past year. Each destination has instituted new health and safety protocols for the upcoming season, loosening some restrictions in outdoor areas and staying vigilant for indoor spaces to keep guest and employees safe from COVID-19. Many of the family-friendly mountain resorts on the Ikon Pass are part of the Alterra Mountain Company. Here’s what to expect when skiing or riding at Ikon Pass destinations 2021-2022, with a focus on the Alterra Mountain Company destinations.
Keep hopping back for updates as the season unfolds, and always look up what to expect for your resort before your visit so you know what to expect.
What to Expect at the Ikon Pass Destinations in 2021-2022
The ski season is underway! You can expect a few changes to your ski experience this year no matter where you ski. Alterra Mountain Company has developed new standards based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health and government officials. The mountains will follow all health orders and protocols and update them as necessary. You can expect new protocols and procedures throughout lodging, restaurants, retail and activities that meet or exceed the current guidelines. Health and safety are foremost in every decision. If you ski in California, be aware that there is a statewide mask mandate for indoors.
We will get into the details below, but in a nutshell, here's what to expect. Rules for face coverings change, social distancing standards remain at some resorts and crowd management of people both on and off the mountain also stay in place. Things will look a little more normal but with safety rules and signage reminding people of the rules still in place. Masks remain mandatory indoors and recommended outdoors. (Psst ... we have hopped into Ikon Pass sales and offer 4-day Session Passes, Base Passes, Base Plus and the full season pass). If you already have a pass, you can get Ikon Pass Renewals to save some green.
What About Ikon Pass Sales?
Keep in mind that the Ikon Pass for 2021-2022 is sold out at Undercover Tourist as of Dec. 1, 2021! If you are looking to buy for 2022-2023, hop back in spring, summer or early fall. You'll want to purchase before passes sell out by around the time the ski destinations start to open. The earlier you buy, the better the savings. (You can compare all the ticket options in our Ikon Pass post.) If you have the Ikon Pass for the 2021-2022 ski season, you might be wondering what skiing looks like this season.
Our passes went on sale for the 2021-2022 season on March 11. The earlier you buy each year, the cheaper the price. The price starts to creep up at intervals in the fall. Keep this in mind for next March. Any time you purchase the next season's pass early in spring, you might get spring skiing at the end of that season at select resorts. It pays to buy early and save.
Worried about buying early? Hop over to learn about Adventure Assurance to find out how your purchase is protected if you are not able to use the pass. Don't delay too long as we expect passes to sell out by early December.
If you value spontaneity and flexibility, most mountains do not require Ikon Pass holders to make a reservation to ski (with some exceptions such as Jackson Hole and Taos Ski Valley). Despite safety protocols to keep guests and employees safe, some things remain the same. Once you are skiing and riding down the mountain, the experience is just as normal as it ever was. Whether you bought a pass before sales ended or not, you'll find some hopful information below. (FYI: If you do not have a pass, you'll want to be sure to purchase any necessary lift tickets in advance to save money.)
What Is Alterra?
Before we get started, let’s briefly introduce the Alterra Mountain Company. Alterra issues the Ikon Pass. Alterra is a family of popular family ski destinations. These mountains are part of the multi-resort season pass and lift tickets, the Ikon Pass, along with several other partner resorts.
Alterra Mountain Company is comprised of:
- Winter Park
- Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows)
- Mammoth Mountain
- June Mountain
- Big Bear Mountain Resort
- Deer Valley Resort
- Blue Mountain
- Crystal Mountain
- CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures
We are going to take a closer look at what to expect at Alterra Mountain Company destinations for the 2021-2022 ski season in terms of new safety rules and protocols. We'll also take a brief look at what you need to know about the other destinations on the Ikon Pass.
Other Ski Destinations Outside Alterra
What about the partner destinations on the Ikon Pass? There are several other popular mountains on the Ikon Pass that are not part of Alterra, such as Jackson Hole, Alta, Snowbird and the Aspens, just to name a few. Some may follow similar protocols as Alterra, but not all of them do, so definitely do your research if you use you plan to use your Ikon Pass to ski at them. Some may require advance reservations or have date restrictions. Hop over to our post on the Ikon Pass to see the complete list of pass options, accessibility by pass and more.
All destinations are subject to local rules so you may see some variation. Visit each mountain's site for the most updated information before you visit.
Limited Capacity and Advance Lift Ticket Reservations
The Alterra destinations fully reopened with the safety and health of skiers, employees and members of the surrounding communities in mind. Each destination complies with local, county and state regulations, so you may encounter slight differences if you resort hop this season. Alterra is limiting capacity through reduced day ticket sales, so that means fewer people will be on the mountain. This equates to wide-open runs and more fresh snow for you! One thing to be aware of is that lifts and gondolas will not be fully utilized in order to separate parties not traveling together or will be running at reduced capacity. That means you might wait longer in lift lines at really popular spots (with physical distancing protocols in place to keep you safe).
The good news is that Ikon Pass holders do not need to make an advance reservations for Alterra properties for 2021-2022! But there are just 15 Alterra mountains and many other destinations on the Ikon Pass. Some of those other properties (such as Jackson Hole and Taos Ski Valley) do require advance reservations, even for Ikon Pass holders. Most do not.
To make a reservation where required, visit ikonpass.com or use the Ikon Pass mobile app. Reservations are available starting Oct. 21, 2021. Friends and Family tickets need to be booked directly with Taos or Jackson Hole.
The following mountains are on the Ikon Pass (but outside of Alterra). Hop by each mountain's site for the latest reservation and safety requirement details:
- Alta, UT (reservation needed to park weekends and holidays)
- Arapahoe Basin, CO
- Aspen Mountain, CO
- Aspen Highlands, CO
- Snowmass, CO
- Boyne Highlands
- Boyne Mountain
- Buttermilk, CO
- Brighton, UT
- Big Sky Resort, MT
- Crystal Mountain, WA
- Cypress, B.C.
- Jackson Hole, WY (requires reservation)
- Killington/Pico, VT
- Lake Louise, AB
- Loon Mountain, NH
- Mt. Bachelor, OR
- Red Mountain, B.C.
- Revelstoke, B.C.
- Blue Mountain, Ontario
- Snowbird, UT
- Snowshoe, WV
- Stratton, VT
- Sugarbush Resort, VT
- Sugarloaf, ME
- Summit at Snowqualmie, WA
- Sunday River, ME
- Taos Ski Valley, NM (requires reservation)
- Tremblant, Quebec
- Windham Mountain, NY
- Winter Park, CO
Double-check each resort you plan to visit well in advance. While Ikon Pass holders may need to make a reservation, other seasonal passholders may not. For example, Jackson Hole passholders are not required to make a reservation, but Ikon Pass holders are.
You’ll need to do your part to avoid virus transmission. Stay at least 6 feet away from others, wash hands frequently, wear a face covering, stay home if you do not feel well and follow resort posted signs and policies. We all still have a responsibility this ski season to limit the spread of COVID-19 through our behavior. We do appreciate the signage at some resorts to remind guests of the health and safety.
Here's What to Expect at the Alterra Mountain Company Destinations in 2021-2022
Let’s take a general look at what to expect at the Alterra Resorts during the 2021-2022 ski season. Ultimately, the mountains are asking guests to partner with them to stay safe so they can stay open. We all have to do our part.
The Face coverings rules change a bit for 2021-2022 from last season. Guests are not required to wear a face covering outdoors at Alterra destinations (check individual resorts outside of Alterra). But they are encouraged, especially when near others. Face coverings are required indoors, in restaurants except when seated at a table and as posted. Employees must wear a face covering indoors at all times and when within six feet of another person. The mountains follow local guidelines so some resorts may have stricter rules than others.
Ski goggles protect your eyes and face from the sun and elements, but they also add an extra layer of protection from COVID-19. So keep those eyes covered with goggles or at least sunglasses. Also, make sure your goggles do not fog up with a mask. You may need different goggle or an anti-fog product.
Physical Distancing Measures Still in Place
The ski resorts are asking guests to practice physical distancing by standing at least six feet from others.to ensure a safe experience during the Alterra Mountain Company reopening continuation. Here are a few changes you can expect at ski resorts this year:
- Gondolas and Chair Lifts - Guests will self-group to ride with their party in gondolas and on chair lifts or at a reduced capacity. Gondolas are being cleaned for frequently throughout the day. Unvaccinated guests must wear a face covering. Vaccinated guests are encouraged to wear a face covering.
- Lift Lines - You may notice extended maze designs and more lateral spacing to appropriately space guests waiting in lines. Look for markers and signage to help space guests out in lift lines, especially in gondola lines. For gondolas, funitels and trams, you generally carry your skis and snowboard, so you lose that "ski space" that separates you in standard lift lines. Being that skis are about 6 feet long in many cases, people are naturally spaced about 6 feet from the people in front and back of them in traditional lift lines. You may still encounter a singles line. Reduced capacity could lead to longer lines (but a less-crowded ski run).
- Restaurants and Other Indoor Spaces - The lodges are managing the number of people coming in and out of restaurants and will comply with local or state-mandated occupancy limits. Each restaurant and location may use a different approach that is tailored to its layout and flow. Table layouts will be arranged to ensure appropriate distancing. Outdoor dining is expanded. Some table-service locations may require reservations for lunch (check Open Table). The grab-and-go, food courts, and quick-serve locations may offer a contactless system. Bring other forms of payment besides cash because the restaurants and shops may only accept credit and debit for contactless payment. Expect that some restaurants and dining options will be unavailable this year. Others will have distanced tables and heaters. Try to eat outside of popular meal times to avoid the crowds. Bad weather days that make outdoor dining unavailable will definitely create more demand for indoor seating, so choose your breaks wisely those days. In the interest of safety and reducing contact points, you might want to bring your own food, snacks and water. We always stash a sandwich and some snack in our pockets anyway to save money at the ski lodges. Now, you can do it to reduce contact. This is also a good year to get lodging with your own kitchen. That way, you can cook more meals in and avoid restaurants when off of the mountain. You may end up saving money, too, which is a nice bonus. No shared food and beverage equipment such as fountain drink or coffee machines.
- Bars - For those of you who like to hit the bars après ski, on-mountain, full-service bars are likely to reopen per local guidelines. For those that are open, you'll see spaced-out tables and outdoor fire pits.
- Enhanced Cleaning - As we’ve seen with theme parks and restaurants, ski resorts have implemented enhanced cleaning and disinfecting. The gondola cabins are disinfected daily. Employees are frequently cleaning and disinfecting all high-touch surfaces (such as railings, tables and chairs).
- Hand Washing and Sanitizing Stations - These are placed throughout the destination.
- Ski School Protocols - Expect fewer ski school options and smaller class sizes this year. Full-day group lessons may not be available at your resort. Lesson sizes are limited, and lessons for toddlers and preschoolers will be even further limited. All participants are expected to do a pre-screen for COVID-19 symptoms prior to arriving at the mountain. Instructors also undergo daily health screenings. Reduce exposure to others by taking a family lesson together. We always recommend making advance lesson reservations to save money and to ensure availability. But this year, it’s required. Purchase all ski lessons in advance — no walk-up, day-of lessons are available. If you are bringing non-skiing little ones, bring grandma or a babysitter. The resorts are not offering childcare for guests this winter season.
- Employee Safety - Employees undergo health screenings before starting their shift and stay home if sick. Employees wear facial coverings indoors and when within 6 feet of another person, and in some cases, eye protection and gloves too. They use hand sanitizer and frequently wash hands throughout the workday.
- Equipment Rentals - The mountain equipment rental locations are open this winter. Of course, they are managing the number of people allowed inside with reservations and physical distancing measures. Each mountain’s procedures and rules may vary according to local regulations. Be sure to reserve equipment in advance with a specific fitting time, because your location may not accept walk-ins. Look for delivery services to avoid the shop.
- Lodging - As you can expect, the ski hotels have instituted property-wide enhanced cleaning measures. They have limited touchpoints at check-in, and have moved to cashless transactions. There are new physical distancing policies and shared space guidelines. Being flexible is important when traveling this year. The ski hotels have relaxed lodging booking and cancellation policies so guests have the ability to change plans without penalty. Be aware that booking lodging does not guarantee mountain access (unless you have a package that includes your lift tickets). You have to have a lift ticket or a pass purchased in advance to ski. If you are flying to the mountains, be sure to find out your airline’s cancellation policies before flying. We have more tips for flying with skis and on saving money when flying to Colorado, Utah or Lake Tahoe. Hot tubs and fitness centers may be closed or limited in capacity. Ask about pools being open before you arrive so you know what to expect.
- Shuttles - Shuttles will run at reduced capacity. Budget extra time when parking or planning to use shuttles for transportation.
- Non-skiers - If you are bringing non-skiing family members, find other things for them to do. How about any of these ideas for winter family fun beyond the ski slope? Find out in advance what family fun options beyond the ski slopes are open and available. You may need to make advance reservations for some activities.
Hopfully, we’ve answered any questions about what to expect from Ikon Pass destinations and Alterra Mountain Company for this ski season. If you need to purchase the Ikon Pass, ski hotel or car rental, you can get a hoppin’ deal with your little green friends.