Why You (Almost) Never Want to Buy Half-Day Lift Tickets

By Matt Myers

Published 1.29.2014

The issue here is one of poor assumptions. When people think of a half day ticket, they assume that they're half price or maybe just a little more than half price. This is hardly the case.

The biggest full day : half day discount is the Aspen/Snowmass/Buttermilk/Aspen Highlands ticket at 29% off their adult full day price. But they have a lot of room to give in an already hefty $119/day.

The worst going is Winter Park, where half day lift tickets are $99 this week, which is only 9% off their $109 full day price. Not a great deal there.

So we called around to all of the resorts (or went online for those who were hard to get in touch with), and got the window rate for Adult One Day Passes and Adult Half Day passes for Wednesday January 29. The results are posted in the grid below. Keep in mind that prices change daily, so this table—while accurate today—is likely to be a couple dollars off either direction, depending on when you get to the window.

But, as we will discuss after the table below, you don't want to find yourself in the half day market anyway.

Ski ResortWindow RatePercent OffTime Available
$82 18% 1230
$119 29% 1200
$119 19% 1200
$129 19% 1230
$124 22% 1230
$119 29% 1200
$118 20% 1200
$102 24% 1230
$77 25% 1230
$79 19% 1230
$59 14% 1230
$39 26% 1230
$109 17% 1200
$61 20% 1130
$65 23% 1230
$59 24% 1230
$49 N/A N/A
$47 17% 1155
$119 $85 29% 1200
$119 25% 1230
$57 18% 1200
$109 21% 1200
$129 19% 1230
$109 9% 1200
$58 22% 1230

* Offer 1/4 day passes starting at 200p

** Price includes their 4% mountain tax

*** 1/2 days seem to be available only on Sundays, but we couldn't get a hold of anyone to confirm. But if you want to hear something pretty funny, call their ticket office after hours. You'll love the recording: 970-259-3711

**** Offer morning and afternoon 1/2 days plus 1/4 days

***** Offer 1/2 days for both morning and afternoon

When NOT to Buy 1/2 Day Lift Tickets

The biggest decision-making error occurs within an hour of 1/2 day passes going on sale. Let's say it's 11:30, and you think if you just wait another hour, you can save $15 bucks. Here are just some of the many reasons why this is dumb:

  • You came there to ski. Just start skiing. Yes, you are SAVING $15, but you are COSTING yourself an hour of skiing. If you only ski 4-5 days/year, you don't want to waste it trying to be Dave Ramsey.
  • You don't ski at resorts because it's cheap, low-maintenance fun. It's expensive. It's REALLY expensive. You didn't get all your gear together, drive all the way up to the slopes, park, take a bus, walk to the lifts, and think "I'll just wait a little bit. Save some money." You want a cheap hobby? Take up running.
  • If you have to wait an hour, what are you going to do? Probably shop or buy a coffee or have a snack or a beer. You're not going to sit there and read a book. So that time is going to cost you money anyway. Worse yet, if you get something to drink, you increase the chances that you'll need to stop to pee, further limiting your already creased time to ski.

When TO BUY 1/2 Day Lift Tickets

Pretty straightforward and obvious, but since we are already having this discussion, it seems like we just need to say it:

  • It's already after 12:30 when you arrive to the ticket window.
  • If you have to wait less than 10 minutes before they go on sale.
  • When you're skiing Keystone. Keystone has night skiing included in a full day ticket, so for $90 ($19 off the full day price), you can ski from 1200 to 800p. Or the same amount of time at any other resort paying full price.

 Hopefully, these tips will help you to make the best decisions with your time on our glorious mountains. But fear not if you ski and ride in another state. Our serious wisdom will travel to you across state lines and international waters.

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