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Go Outdoors: How to Navigate the World of Ski Passes

Arapahoe Basin in all of its glory. Photo courtesy of: Nevin Fowler

If Colorado had an official sport, it would undoubtedly be skiing. Ok, fine, it would be both skiing and snowboarding—I’m not looking to instigate a rivalry. Either way, beautiful landscapes and the occasional “warm-up beer” provide the quintessential Colorado experience.

Of course, that perfect day comes with a price, and a seriously big price at that. Lift tickets for Colorado resorts can cost over $150. There is no need to pay that much for a day on the slopes. With this article and a little planning, you can shred without breaking the bank.


For starters, you need to know how many days you will be hitting the slopes. Then decide which resort fits your style. Use the guide below to figure out what pass works best for you.

Note: Many ticket prices increase on Monday, September 5, 2016.

Types of Passes

Under Four Days

If you fall into this category, go watch Warren Miller ski films—you may need some inspiration. Still set on less than four days? Suck up to a friend, or even the friend of a friend, just find someone, anyone who has a season pass—they have something you need… The coveted buddy pass. Most season passes come with around six buddy passes, which are essentially discounted tickets.

There are also numerous companies that pair up with ski resorts in order to give away promotional lift tickets. The Shell “buy ten gallons of gas and get BOGO lift tickets” is one great example.

Four Days

I would prescribe some Warren Miller inspiration to anyone in this category as well. Although, if you do it right, all four of those days can be powder-filled. Plan carefully.

Almost every resort offers four-day passes, which are cheaper than their single day cousins. Four-day passes will also be cheaper than the discounted single lift tickets I mentioned earlier.

Skis in the Rocky Mountains.
Skis in the Rocky Mountains Photo courtesy of: Nevin Fowler

Seven Days and Over

Anyone who is in this category truly knows how to live! If you do fall into this category, a season pass is perfect for you. Not only do you save a lot of money, certain season passes give you access to multiple resorts, as they are often grouped together.


Over Twenty Days

For any addict in this category, there is a solution. Become a ski bum and start working for a ski resort.

Resorts options

With over 28 ski resorts to choose from across the state, choosing the right resort can be a daunting task. Each resort provides access to a unique set of terrain and amenities. Thankfully, there are numerous pass options available.

The Local Epic Pass

Cost: $609

This pass is perfect for a Colorado local. It provides access to numerous Vail resorts across the country. That being said, the pass restricts users to a set amount of days at certain resorts, and there are blackout days at certain resorts.

The Epic Pass

Ski Resorts
Keystone resort is visible in the foreground, with Breckenridge behind it. Photo courtesy of: Nevin Fowler

Cost: $809

The Epic pass has it all. It provides access to all Vail resorts without blackout dates.

The Keystone/Arapahoe Basin Pass

Cost: $319

This pass provides incredible skiing for half of the price. I love both of these ski areas, and I have been satisfied in the past with this pass.

The Rocky Mountain Super Pass

Cost: $509

This pass provides access to Winter Park and Copper Mountain resorts, and it has no blackout dates. As a skier I love Winter Park—it has a wide variety of terrain.

Note: Be sure to check for a college discount as most resorts offer them.

I look forward to seeing you on the slopes this winter!

Collegian Blogger Nevin Fowler can be reached online at, on Twitter @nevintfowler or on Instagram @nevintfowler.

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