Heavenly Ski Resort lift tickets

Skiing's Best Lift Ticket & Pass Deals Are Right Now - For Next Season

For decades, ski lift ticket and season pass pricing followed a very simply and crude model – raise the price every single year, whether demand was rising or falling.

But in recent years there has been a paradigm shift in the ski industry to pre-sell discounted (sometimes heavily discounted) season passes and lift tickets a full year ahead of time. Well not really a full year – buy today and you might be using your 2103-14 tickets in as little as seven months. Or even tomorrow.

Part of the reason is just better marketing, and a large part is savvier buyers used to the internet model of getting better prices on everything from air to hotel based on timing. But a large part has to do with industry consolidation. Once Vail Resorts, the largest operator of destination ski resorts in the country, introduced its Epic Pass, covering mountains from Switzerland to Michigan to Colorado to California, and started selling it for relative peanuts, other resorts fought back.

The full-blown Epic Pass has been expanded since last year and is now good for unlimited skiing – with no blackout dates whatsoever – at 11 U.S. resorts and also includes five free days at Switzerland’s Verbier, a partner resort. The U.S. Resorts are: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Eldora in Colorado; Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood in Tahoe; and Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton in Michigan. Right now the pass is 9 for the full season at all these resorts, but requires just a down payment, and if you buy before April 14, it is guaranteed to be the lowest available price, but might very well go up if you don’t act. Also if you buy before 4/14 Vail is throwing in 6 buddy tickets for your skiing partners for next season, and pre-activating the pass for lift service all this summer at Colorado and Tahoe resorts for hiking and mountain biking.

There are also several scaled down options. The Epic Local Pass excludes Eldora, Verbier and the Michigan resorts, limits skiing at Vail and Beaver Creek to 10 days, has holiday blackouts, and runs $529. The same early order bonuses are offered. There is also a 7-Day Epic Pass which means basically pre-buying seven days of unrestricted skiing, good at any of the resorts except Verbier, Eldora and Michigan, also $529 but without the buddy ticket bonus. This comes to around $75 a day, a saving of $20-$30, or $140-$210 for the season.

In Vermont, resurgent Jay Peak just opened up its season pass pre-sale, and at $649, the cost is less than passes were for this winter – and they can be used right away, for the next month or so to finish up this season. Add fifty bucks and $699 pass also covers Burke Mountain, which Jay acquired last year. Until April 30, Okemo is discounting all of next year’s passes and has some unique offerings. Its Millennial Pass offers savings to those 19-29 with no blackout dates or restrictions and is good at both Okemo and New Hampshire’s Mt. Sunapee for $519. Their other passes, including one that includes Crested Butte, CO are all on sale as well.

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