There is truth to the argument that winter sports are, unfortunately, a rich person sport. According to the HomeToGo Ski Price Index, the average daily cost for ski rentals, lift ticket, lunch, and accommodation is on average $325 and it is quite possible to spend over $500 a day making a day of it in the mountains at luxury results of Aspen, Deer Valley, Park City, Beaver Creek, and Telluride are consistently at the top of the list. When we broke down the details of this study, there are a few conclusions that we were able to draw out.
The average lift ticket is approximately $112 a day. Compared to the early season cost of a “base” / “local” multi mountain pass, such as the IKON ($749) or Epic pass ($669), one would need to ski approximately 7 times to make a “base” or “local” pass worth the initial investment. Factoring in food ($15) and lodging ($150), this study suggests that that the “hidden costs” of over $1100 for buying a pass at the break-even point of 7 days.
The advantage of the US Dollar over the Canadian Dollar makes destinations north of the border worth serious consideration. While fluctuations in Foreign Exchange have occured over time, the US Dollar is about 1.30 Candian. This brings the daily Canadian Ski vacation average to $250 a day compared to the USA vacation average of $348.
Equipment Rental rates vary dramatically, so shop around for your best deal. These costs can often be offset by 20 percent or more by booking in advance. Likewise, lift ticket costs can be reduced by buying tickets at least 7 days in advance. Alternatively, make a friend on the bus from the car to the lift line. Most season pass holders do not use their “buddy” pass discounts.
Lastly, if you are brand new to skiing, several resorts offer never-ever learn-to-ski packages that can be extremely helpful to your budget. So it is worth your time to dig through websites or ask for the program on the phone. For example, Powderhorn Ski Area near Grand Junction offers a restricted, but completely free ski lesson with rentals. Look for these discounts at so-called “feeder resorts” that cater to the novice.