This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Right now, a one-day walk-up lift ticket at a ski resort like Beaver Creek, Vail or Breckenridge costs more than $200. For those ranking pricy family trips, that’s almost twice as much as a one-day ticket to Disney World. There’s no question the high price of the occasional lift ticket has priced out many families from major mountains. But thankfully, Vail Resorts is addressing this very real issue for the 2019–2020 ski season by introducing a “Build Your Own” Epic Pass option, with one-day ski rates as low as $89 per day for adults and about half that for kids.
The catch: You have to plan ahead and know how many days you want to ski.
Vail Resorts has said that 47% of lift revenue in its last fiscal year came from those with a seasonal ski pass, which really isn’t shocking since the relative value of a pass has dramatically improved in recent decades as single-day lift ticket prices have skyrocketed.
New: Build Your Own Epic Pass
Epic Pass’s new build your own pass option for the 2019–2020 season prices a single day of skiing at Beaver Creek, Vail, Breckenridge, etc. at just $106 for adults and $55 for kids. That’s still not cheap, but it’s much better than what was available for the one- or two-day skiers this season.
The Epic Day Pass can be loaded with one to seven days of skiing. You get to decide whether you want those days to be valid for peak holiday stretches (Nov. 29–30, Dec. 26–31, Jan. 18 and Feb. 15–16) or not. A three-day adult pass would set you back $300 for adults or $156 for kids on other dates; that increases to $352 and $183, respectively, if you’d like to ski those peak dates. Vail says the average daily lift ticket skier spent 2.3 days on the mountain in 2018, so it’s great to see a three-day pass option for those families.
The Epic day pass can be used at Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge, Keystone, Crested Butte, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stowe, Okemo, Mount Sunapee, Stevens Pass, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton and Wilmot Mountain. If you purchase four or more days, you also can use some or all of those days at: Telluride, Sun Valley, Snowbasin and Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.
Epic Local Pass Returns
For the last couple of years, the best deal for me has been the Epic Local Pass (though that may change going forward with the new day pass options). For 2019–2020, the Epic Local Pass allows for unlimited, unrestricted skiing at Breckenridge, Keystone, Crested Butte, Okemo, Mount Sunapee, Stevens Pass, Wilmot, Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton. You’ll also get unlimited access (with holiday restrictions) at Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood and Stowe. The Local Pass also includes 10 total combined days (with holiday restrictions) at Vail, Beaver Creek and Whistler Blackcomb. There are additional dates at some partner resorts such as Sun Valley, Snowbasin and Hakuba Valley and 16 total “Buddy Tickets” (which are discounted tickets at a flat rate) and “Ski With a Friend” tickets (where the discounted rate fluctuates and is generally a bit higher than with the Buddy Tickets). That’s more than last year.
If you are going to ski more than roughly six days in the season at Epic mountains, and are willing to have some limits and peak date restrictions at select resorts, the Epic Local Pass at $699 for adults, $569 for teens and $369 for children (ages 5 to 12) may be your best bet. These prices are $10 to $30 more than last season.
Ski Without Restrictions With the Epic Pass
Those who need unlimited, unrestricted skiing at all of Vail’s owned resorts, with additional access to partner resorts, are still looking at the full Epic Pass. Prices for the 2019–2020 ski season start at $939 for adults (13+) and $489 for children (ages 5 to 12). Unlike the Epic Local Pass, there is not a discounted teen Epic Pass — at 13, you jump from child to adult.
Launching at $939 for the 2019–2020 winter season ($40 more than last year), the Epic Pass provides unlimited, unrestricted access to all of the company’s owned resorts and additional access to partner resorts around the world.
This pass gets you unlimited skiing at Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Crested Butte, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stowe, Okemo, Mount Sunapee, Stevens Pass, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton and Wilmot in North America. The Epic Pass also includes access to Perisher in Australia, and is expected to include access to Falls Creek and Hotham, pending close of the transaction and receipt of certain approvals.
At partner resorts, the full Epic Pass gets you seven days of skiing each at Telluride, Sun Valley, Snowbasin and the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies; five consecutive days at Hakuba Valley, Japan’s 10 ski resorts; and five consecutive days at Japan’s Rusutsu Resort. The Epic Pass also grants limited access to Les 3 Vallées, Paradiski and Tignes-Val D’Isere in France; 4 Vallées in Switzerland; Arlberg in Austria; and Skirama Dolomiti in Italy.
Because skiing alone isn’t nearly as fun, the EpicPass also includes 10 “Buddy” tickets (up from six last year) and six “Ski With A Friend” tickets.
In addition to the more customizable day passes and slightly higher pass prices, there are a few other changes coming for next ski season. Notably, Arapahoe Basin has reportedly had enough of the Epic crowds and won’t renew with Vail Resorts for next winter. However, Idaho’s Sun Valley and Utah’s Snowbasin are coming on board as partner resorts.
Points Hotels Near Epic Mountains
- Park Hyatt Beaver Creek (30k Hyatt points)
- Hyatt Place Keystone (15k Hyatt points)
- Vail Marriott Mountain Resort (60k Marriott points)
- Hotel Talisa Vail (60k Marriott points)
- DoubleTree by Hilton Vail (80k Hilton points)
- DoubleTree by Hilton Breckenridge (60k Hilton points)
- Residence Inn by Marriott Breckenridge (35k Marriott points)
- Hyatt Residence Club Breckenridge (25k Hyatt points)
- Waldorf Astoria Park City (80k Hilton points)
- Hyatt Centric Park City (20k Hyatt points)
- Stowe Mountain Lodge (hopefully joining the World of Hyatt — fingers crossed!)
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Gunnison (20k IHG points)
- Dunton Town Home in Telluride (not a points hotel, but amazing and bookable via Hotels.com)
For those who know they want to ski Epic mountains next season, you can purchase a pass now for $49 and pay the balance in September.
There are Epic Pass discounts for those in college and in the military, as well as lower prices for some mountain-specific passes.
Families with kids may also want to wait and see if the Epic School Kids program will work to get your kids on the mountain for free next season.
Stay tuned for a full head-to-head comparison of the Epic, Ikon Pass and Mountain Collective passes.
For more ski planning tips, check out:
- Unlimited Skiing With Ikon Ski Pass
- Tips for Visiting Crested Butte
- Where Kids Ski Free
- Skiing at 70: Ski Tips for Seniors
- 6 Tips for Taking Big Family Ski Trips
- Plan Your Ski Trip Using Miles and Points
- Best Ski Resorts for Families in North America
- Best Ski Schools for Kids in the US
Featured image by gladassfanny / Getty Images
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees