I (and many others) prefer the terrain at Welch and Afton is always so crowded as it's the closest ski area to the metro core. The Epic pass has nice value. I ski Welch a lot and haven't bought a pass there in several years. Every summer Welch sells tickets online for the following season at a big discount. I bought half a dozen this past summer and just used the last of them. "Like" Welch Village on Facebook and you'll get notice of their summer sale this summer.
Thanks for the reply, man. I didn't really think about buying individual day passes... Do you remember what you paid for the half dozen tickets? They're probably a pretty good deal compared to their normal daily prices. However, given a couple of the responses below, I may just pick a season pass up from them even though it's a further drive than Afton. One of the reason I'm interested in Afton is because it'd allow me to go during week nights instead of just on the weekends. Welch would be doable too, just about twice as far.
Welch usually offers an early bird (March- April) on next years season pass, the past couple of years it has been $150 for the next season. Last year they offered two years for $250 for renewing memberships.
I can ski for Free at Afton, but I choose to pay and drive a little further to Ski at Welch. As far as the steep, and the terrain, it might not be a big deal to you now, but if you progress and become better it will be a big deal. If the drive is too far, and you won't use it enough, then you are better off paying the extra money. Based on were you live, if you are near 494 and 52, Welch takes me 35 minutes from that point. It takes me 35 Minutes to get to Afton from Downtown St. Paul (Robert and 94).
Welch has some great relationships with Grand Targhee, Big Sky, and Lutsen that you should consider as well.
In the end the biggest thing is that you have fun wherever you go skiing or boarding.
Sounds like Welch has really reasonable rates for a season pass if you buy it early. It's funny you mention 494 and 52, I'm in the apartments on the Northwest corner of where 494/52 intersect (Southview Gables). According to Google Maps, it takes me about 40 minutes to get to Welch, and 25-29 to get to Afton, though the miles are about double to Welch.
Do you know what rate the early bird Afton season pass goes for? I think the only reason Afton appeals to me more is because it's close, and also has the Epic Pass which would let me go out west. However, that may off the books for next winter given the response below. Lutsen sounds like it'd be an amazing time...but the deal probably isn't as good as the Vail Epic Pass.
Being that you are new I'd go for the place with the least crowds, best snow and lowest prices, which are all Welch.
In the future you may want to change to Afton for the terrain parks they have for boarders (not sure if you are into that thing at all), closer drive and Epic pass.
I wouldn't bother going out west next year. Wait one more year for when you can really enjoy it and are a more developed rider.
Thanks for the information. I'm still trying to figure out how to not catch edges on my board...it'll be quite a while before I'm into terrain park and stuff. Probably a good idea waiting another year to go out west when I can actually enjoy it and focus on getting better here in MN. I think the appeal of Afton is that it's twice as close and the Epic Pass is a good value...but if I'm not going to take advantage of it, then Welch may be a better option for me now.
Thanks a lot, guys.