Today in Stoke: Pre-season Spring deals on 2011/2012 ski passes

Many Colorado ski areas announced pre-season discounts on 2011/2012 season passes this week. Yes, we know there are still three or four good weeks of Spring skiing and shredding ahead of us, and that Arapahoe Basin will be keeping the dream alive until at least the end of May, but it's never too soon to start planning ahead for next season. After the jump we'll break down the best early-bird pre-season deals on next year's season passes, starting with some great bargains you may have been overlooking.

Of the ski areas that have announced pre-season deals, Ski Cooper's is the cheapest: $199 for an adult pass, $99 for the kid pass if you order online by April 8 or by mail before April 18. Visit SkiCooper.com for details.

Monarch Mountain's season pass doesn't go on sale until April 1 and the price hasn't been announced yet, but we picked it as our Best Season Pass Deal in 2010 and it will be worth looking at again this year: In addition to unlimited skiing/riding at Monarch, the $429 pass (pre-season price: $289) included up to three days each at partner ski areas Loveland, Sol Vista, Sunlight, Powderhorn, Silverton, Durango, Angel Fire, Pajarito, Sipapu, Alta, Grand Targhee, Indianhead, Snowbowl, Revelstoke, Red River, Taos and China Peak, for adventures all over Colorado and across the country. The Vail Resorts' Epic Pass is getting industry-wide recognition for its value: Get in early to get it for $649 and unlimited skiing/riding at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Heavenly and Northstar-at-Tahoe. Sounds steep compared to the above values, but it's a steal compared to Vail's prices from just a couple of seasons ago, and unlimited ripping at the Vail resorts is, well... epic. Front-rangers also like the slightly cheaper Epic Locals Pass (formerly the Colorado Pass, $499 for unrestricted use at Breck, Keystone, and A-Basin, plus 10 restricted days at Vail or Beaver Creek). Copper Mountain ($369), Winter Park/Mary Jane ($369), and Steamboat ($929) all announced pre-season prices this week, but locals know to go for the combo Rocky Mountain Superpass ($409) instead, which includes unlimited shred at Copper and Winter Park plus six days at Steamboat. Another one of our favorite bargains is the Silverton Mountain Season Pass, which starts at $699 and includes half-price heli-drops in 22,000 acres of the state's gnarliest terrain plus four days at A-Basin, five days at Monarch, and five days at Loveland.

Eldora's offering a $369 pre-season price; Crested Butte has Gold Passes for $899 and Platinum Passes for $999. For more pre-season discounts (and Spring deals for the remainder of this season) visit the Colorado Ski Country USA website.

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