Which Colorado Ski Pass is right for you?

Here's a guide

With summer coming to a close, now is the time to choose your ski pass. Not sure which pass is best for you? No problem. We did some investigating with our friends at Ski Butlers and here’s what we found out:

When deciding on whether to buy a daily lift ticket or purchase one of the many seasons ski options, there are a few things to consider:

  • The amount of days you plan on skiing at the resort (or resorts) of your choice.
  • The time of year as certain peak times -- Christmas, President’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Easter -- can be "blacked out" and excluded from the passes access for the weekend.
  • How many people you are bringing on your vacation. It is just you or your entire family? Are you under 18? There may be a discount.  Are you in college? There are many factors that may qualify you for discounts on your season pass.

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What are the Vail Resort markets and what are each of their passes? The Vail Resort Markets include: Breckenridge, Vail/Beaver Creek, Keystone, Northstar (North Lake Tahoe), and Heavenly & Kirkwood (South Lake Tahoe).

The EPIC Pass: The epic pass gives you access to every resort they operate. This pass can be of amazing convenience and a money-saver if you plan on skiing or snowboarding six or more days in a season. The price is $859 (until October 8th, then prices go up) and that gets you an unlimited pass to all their resorts with no blackout dates. The average price of a Vail Resort Mountains lift ticket (keep in mind they all differ) is roughly $120 a day, so this is a great option should you plan on taking your vacation during the holiday periods when daily prices surge and blackout dates are in full-effect. In addition, this pass alone provides access to ski all 15 of Vail Resorts worldwide. Not to mention, get on the mountain quicker and completely avoid lift ticket lines for the whole season.

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The Epic Local Pass: The Epic Local Pass is about $200 cheaper than the Epic Pass, at $639, but still provides access to all the resorts mentioned above. The key difference is there are several blackout dates: typically thanksgiving (often opening day), Christmas, President’s Day week, Martin Luther King Jr. and Easter week, based on when Easter falls. If you are not going to travel during those peak times, this would be a great pass. You only need to ski or snowboard about five days to justify the pass.

Other things to consider with Epic pass: If you’re in college, there may be a discount. Some resorts have junior passes for kids under a certain age. You can also do a 7-day or 4-day pass. So, if you are only skiing or snowboarding that many days in a season, those will save you money over going to the ticket window. By going to snow.com you can see all the available options.

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The Tahoe Local Pass: There are three resorts to ski in Tahoe alone. This pass will cost you $549 and get you access to those resorts only. It’s a great option if that’s where you plan on taking your vacation.

Non-Vail Resorts: For non-Vail resorts, like Jackson Hole and Telluride, there are a few options, as well. These passes are some of the most expensive in the country (between $1500-$2500). You would need to ski or snowboard 20 or more days to justify these passes. The daily lift ticket prices are expensive, but typically lower than Vail Resorts on average. One thing to keep in mind is the ticket price is usually posted the day-of and varies based on volume of people skiing/boarding the mountain.

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Mountain Collective: Another newer option is the Mountain Collective. This is a collective partnership between 16 resorts around the world. Typically the pass costs around $469 for adults and $99 for kids 12 and under. This pass gets you two days at each of the six resorts, a total of 32 days to all. After you use your two days, there is typically a half price discount for another lift ticket. This is good if you like to travel and ski or snowboard multiple resorts, but not a lot of days at each resort. Some resorts who participate in the Mountain Collective include Jackson Hole, Telluride, Sun Valley, and Snowboard Alta.

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Steamboat: They are not part of any program. You can either buy a day ticket or a season pass. If you go to Steamboat’s website you can see the season’s pass price, daily lift tickets and decide what makes the most sense for you.

Now that we’ve broken it down, it’s time to buy and the best time to buy is now! Epic passes go up after Labor Day and they typically stop selling them around Thanksgiving. Be safe, have fun on the slopes, and be sure to check out the available InvitedHome Vacation Rentals for your next ski trip.

We have 44 homes in Telluride, click to start your search We have 19 homes in Breckenridge, click to start your search We have 8 homes in Vail, click to start your search We have 0 homes in Jackson Hole, click to start your search We have 4 homes in Steamboat, click to start your search We have 33 homes in Lake Tahoe, click to start your search