By Matt Myers
Many fine folks have been complaining about the cost of or lack of discounts for lift tickets this season at Breckenridge, Vail, and Keystone. Vail Resorts (who owns Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek and many other ski areas) announced in November that they would no longer allow sweet sweet companies like ours—or any other vendor—to sell their lift tickets for them. Which has meant only there's one place to buy and only one exorbitantly high price to pay. Boo.
Because we get so many lift ticket requests for these resorts, we are in a position to hear about a lot of different hustles for cheaper passes. Some of them are good. Some not. Here is the list that we have developed for discount Vail and Breckenridge lift tickets this year to help you ski a little cheaper.
For some context, here are the window prices for the resorts in question for tomorrow, January 23:
Vail - $145
Beaver Creek - $145
Breckenridge - $140
Keystone - $115
This is the most boring and the least cunning, but it's easy, there's no concern, and it works. In most cases, you are going to save $20 off the window rate and sometimes as much as 25%, but the key is not to forget this tidbit for the rest of your natural days. Just like hotel rooms or concert tickets, you have to move on things in advance if you want to get a good rate. Know this: there is no higher price to pay than the price at the ticket window. So if you aren't trying other options, then you aren't trying.
Here are the links to buy in advance from the resorts:
In general, I try to steer clear of Craigslist, and I wouldn't be a friend if I told you to go there and waste your time. But DANG IT SO MUCH, YOU GUYS! These prices make us do insane things. Here's a link to the most potent list for Vail and Breckridge discount lift tickets.Flightcar, that rent your car while it's parked at the airport, this is developing into a marketplace for Epic and other season pass holders to sell their unused buddy passes and even use of their passes. I believe more of this is coming, just you wait.
Pretty narrow shot that this one hits a lot of people, but you can cash in Amex points at Vail. A 3-day Vail lift ticket costs 28,000 points. If you take the typical conversion of $1 per 1000 points, it works out to $286 for this ticket that would cost $435 ($149 savings) at the window and $336 ($50 savings) with the 7-day, online discount. A pretty slick angle if you have points to spare. And you'd better, if you are skiing Vail on the regular.
You haven't been coming up here to ski for very long if you don't know this one. The City Market grocery stores in Breckenridge and Dillon have discounts on Breck and Keystone lift tickets. The discounts aren't usually that deep, maybe a buck or three off the window rate, but help is help. Buying 7 days in advance is a WAY better deal, but if you forgot or were none-the-wiser to begin with, this can help a smidge. Note. I haven't seen more than 3-day passes being sold. King Soopers stores down in the Denver area also do this. Here are the addresses in the Breckenridge area:
400 N Park Ave Breckenridge 80424
336 US Highway 6 Dillon 80435
300 Dillon Ridge Road Dillon 80435
Knowing someone with an Epic pass—which is good to all of the resorts above—can be as cheap a deal as you can find. Epic passes not only come with discounted ticket purchasing ability, but they also come with MO-bility, as in loaning it to a friend for the day. Depending on the friend, this could range from free on up to $75, from what I have heard. This is common for Denver folks, but it has been stretching outside the state boundaries, too. Sure, the resorts don't want you to do this and they are going to try their hardest to convince you that you will get caught, but the great thing about snow gear is that it hides a lot of identifying features. I mean, maybe this is me. Maybe it isn't.
Who WOULDN'T want to be this pretty?
There is a deal going on through the end of January for $96/day to Keystone just from booking online. No special codes or coupons. I'll bet you all the gold in Kentucky that this is Vail's weather balloon to see if visits spike when discounts are available. And if you love your fellow skier and hate the lift ticket price trend, you will take all your friends to Keystone these next few days to make the people's voices heard. Solidarity!
This is a bit repeated, but you need to know your Colorado 7s.
Book 7 days in advance online and save at ANY resort.
If you live in Denver and don't leave before 7 on a weekend, might as well stay home. (Really, probably 6.)
There are 7 Colorado ski resorts that don't offer discount lift tickets as of today. Those are:
There are a handful of lodging companies that are allowed to sell Vail and Breck discount lift tickets to their clients who also book lodging within the Breck - Vail industrial complex. I'll just pull Vacation Roost's name out as an example. If you are already booking lodging through a big group like this, it makes sense to ask about their lift ticket deals. Most of the time it seems you can squeeze them a little for a discount on tickets, since they want to make the full lift ticket + lodging sale. I can't say for sure whether this is a smart money deal, so you'll need to do the math yourself, but the incentive is definitely there for them to try to book everything for you, so this *can* play in your favor if you work it.
There are 24 ski resorts in this great state, plus a few others that are semi-operational, and forests upon forests of backcountry. No matter what anyone has led you to believe (looking at you, Texans), there are really are other places to ski besides Breckenridge and Vail. More than that, most of them are cheaper, and all of them will have fewer people clogging up the lift lines, the trails, the bars, the hot tubs, and the restaurants.
Expand your concept of a ski trip and ski in Copper or Wolf Creek or Winter Park or Crested Butte. These are great ski areas with tons of space, more skiing per hour, and quaint little towns where you can soak your legs in a hot tub after an all-out day without sharing it with 40 other people. And here's the kicker, we have lift ticket deals to many of these places. Here's just a few: