How exactly does one make ski trips “affordable?”
Let me demystify something… it’s not that we have all sorts of secret handshakes that get us better deals than someone else. No doubts about it, we get screwed from time to time. We hope to help you avoid pitfalls we’ve fallen into. That said, we have started to figure out how we can live it up without going broke along the way. The most important advise I can give you is research early and buy as far ahead of time as possible. Over our next 5 stories, we will cover getting the most bang for your buck on:
- Lift tickets
- Rental Gear
- Après Ski
- Dining and entertainment
The closer you get to your desired trip, the more your lift tickets will cost, the more the gear you get will be showing their use, the more you’ll pay for lodging, the less likely you’ll know where the best Après Ski happy hours will be, and the less likely you’ll get the reservations to the places worth the splurge.
The average window price of a lift ticket in the Rocky Mountain region is now over $130 a day with the top lift ticket prices at a budget blowing price of $169 a day at Aspen Snowmass. While there are multi-day options available at the window, you’ll still shell out well north of $100 a day. Rule number 1 avoid the window!
There are some early purchase options available to get your costs down. Residents of Colorado can benefit from the 4-day options that are sold starting around Labor Day with sales ending in early November (when the lifts start to turn). A few examples for early 2017 are as follows:
- Aspen Classic Pass – $269
- Copper Mountain – $169
- Eldora -$239
- Granby Ranch – $169
- Loveland $169
- Route 40 4 pack – $269
- 2 days Winter Park
- 2 days Steamboat
- Winter Park 4 day
- Freestyle- $249
- Tethered – $189 (restrictions apply)
Be sure to take a close look at the side benefits of these 4 packs. For example, the packages from Copper Mountain, Winter Park and Route 40 include 4 reduced rate daily tickets ranging from $69 – $89. These are perfect when you know that out of state friends are coming. We loved this discount when my cousins came from Missouri.
Think you and yours will only go a couple days? No problem!!! One of the best deals we found is the Loveland pass card. With an upfront purchase of $57, the pass gives you and a friend access to a walk-up rate for $57 a day! Kids can get in on the deal too with a walk-up price of $27!
If your reading this post in December, don’t despair, a few places offer late season ticket packages. A great example is the Olympian pass that Steamboat offers. This pass works for 3 days between Martin Luther King Day and Presidents’ Day. Last year, this went for $199. Another place to look for midseason savings is at retail outlets in Denver. A prime example is Costco where your membership last year scored you 3 days at Monarch for $139! Kroger’s King Soopers and REI have also had similar savings. Lastly, Shell gas stations sometimes have a 2 for 1 voucher when you buy 10 gals. The participating stations and resorts are typically announced in early January. We’ll be sure to share details of deals we see as they become available later in the season.
If you can be more specific about which days you’ll be skiing, head over to Liftopia for deep discounts especially if you’re planning to ski during a weekday. They have arranged to price based on demand much like airlines do. As with before, the sooner you buy, the better the deal. At the time of publication, we found a $40 lift ticket for Sunlight for Wednesday, Jan 8. Act quickly as availability is extremely limited.
So you’re probably saying “Hey, what about full season passes like the Aspen Flex / Premier, Epic pass, M.A.X. Pass, and Rocky Mountain Super Pass, Etc.?” I intentionally discussed the other options first as the average days skied for most working individuals has been tracking at 7 days or less. Unless you’re a die-hard with a dedication to a particular mountain, the vast majority of people will only increase the price per day by buying a full pass.
As you can see, there are plenty of options to consider for lift tickets. The main benefit of knowing your desired ski experience early is you can shop around to find the best choice for your money. Once you’ve figured out how many days you plan to go and where our next step will be to locate affordable gear and lodging. Look forward to these details in our future articles.
Until then, pray for snow and celebrate when Ullr Provides!!
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