You better act now if you hope to pay less than face value for a lift ticket this season to Alta. Right now, every resort from Deer Valley to Brian Head offers locals coupon books, and season passes are the way to go if you ski more than 20 - 30 days at any one resort. But deadlines loom. Sales usually end by Oct. 1 even though ski season rarely starts before Thanksgiving.
The pricing this year hasn't dropped from last season despite the economy, but the good news is that many resorts have opted not to raise prices.
Alta's early season pass is still $999 until Sept. 30 and the Alta/Bird pass remains at $1,499 ($1,599 after Sept. 30). At Alta, kids under six do not ski free like they do at Snowbird, Park City, The Canyons, Solitude, Brighton, Powder Mountain, and Snowbasin. They'll need to purchase a $199 season pass or $34 lift ticket. You're better off taking them in the afternoon when everyone skis free at Alta after 3 p.m., because the little ones don't usually ski for more than an hour or two anyway.
The Alta Silver and Powder Cards are by far the best deal for local skiers who either won't ski at Alta more than 25 days this season or like to spread their days among several resorts.
The Powder Card gets you 10 days of skiing for $49 per day. This card is transferable but you can only use it once a day. The card can be reloaded with an additional 10 days at the pre-season rate and any unused value can be applied towards the purchase of season passes or season cards next season. The hitch is that Alta has a limited supply and they are not an option after Sept. 30. The Silver Card is not transferable and can only be used by Utah residents. The card itself costs $99 but then you show the card at the ticket window for a $39 lift ticket instead of the walk-up price of $66. Reloads are allowed. The price of the card goes up to $199 after Sept. 30.
While pre-season ticket deals can save money, for the best value, check to see if the tickets are transferable from one person to another, the unused portion can be carried over to the next season, are reloadable (i.e., if you use them up can you buy more at the same price), and have no holiday blackout dates.