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If weather patterns hold the same for this year as last year, we are just 47 days away from the opening of Arapahoe Basin — which is one of the first ski resorts to typically open each year in Colorado. Heck, we are just 32 days from Loveland turning on the snow-making machines. That is hard to believe sitting in 100 degree heat in Texas, but the calendar doesn’t lie and ‘winter is coming’ … we hope.

Winter is coming and Epic prices are increasing

Epic Ski Pass Price Increases Coming Sept. 3

In the ski world, prices generally rise as the snow gets closer. Next week, on Labor Day, prices for the Epic Pass will increase in advance of the upcoming ski season.

I probably don’t have to tell you that skiing can be a very expensive hobby, but annual ski passes are a way to save money on a per-day basis if you are going to ski more than a day or two during the season. A one-day walk-up lift ticket at a pricey resort such as Beaver Creek or Vail will cost you a staggering $200+ for that one day of skiing — not including gear rentals or anything beyond just the lift ticket itself.

But don’t cancel all of your ski dreams quite yet over the thought of $200 lift tickets, as ski lift ticket packages or passes can be purchased starting at around the cost of two days worth of walk-up lift ticket rates. One very popular ski pass is the Epic Pass. This is the pass that I personally had last year in order to ski for less at Whistler, Keystone and Vail.

The Epic Pass is indeed, epic, as it includes access to 65 mountain resorts not only with the US and Canada, but across the globe. I won’t list all 65 Epic resorts since you can find that info on their website, but some big name examples include: Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge, Park City, Keystone, Stevens Pass, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stowe, Arapahoe Basin, Crested Butte and even seven days at Telluride with the full Epic Pass.

Skiing at Whistler

The current price of a full Epic Pass that gives unlimited and unrestricted access to many resorts with limited access to dozens more is $899 for adults aged 13+ and $469 for children aged 5 – 12. There are also less expensive 7-day passes, 4-day passes, local passes and some mountain-specific options available for a smaller financial outlay. Some of these more restricted passes may be your best bet if you have to travel in to ski and won’t be able to get the full benefits of an unlimited pass, assuming you can make the date restrictions work.

Regardless of which type of Epic Pass is the right fit for you, if your 2018 – 2019 ski plans are relatively set, you may want to purchase before the Sept. 3 price increase that will make many of the passes more expensive. It is not clear how much the prices will increase on Sept. 3.

Free Epic Kid Passes Available Now

If your family has a child skier in the mix, also know that Kindergarten – 5th graders can get four days of free skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone (16 total days) with the Epic School Kids Colorado Pack. This free pass even comes with one free gear rental and a first-timers lesson for those brand new to skiing or boarding. There are peak date restrictions with this pass, but since the price is free, that is more than fair.

Ski with your kid for free in Colorado with the Epic kid program

The catch? To enroll for a free Epic School Kids Pass, you must visit a Epic Mountain Gear location in person with your child. Documentation, such as a copy of child report card, student ID, birth certificate or passport is required, but no purchase is necessary to get the free ski pass. There are also no Colorado residency requirements listed, other than the requirement that you must apply for the pass in person in Colorado. Last year, this program was open for sign-ups until early October, so keep it in mind as a way to save several hundred dollars on your child’s lift tickets this year if you will be in Colorado over the next month or so.

There are similar kid’s Epic School Kids programs in Utah and Washington State/Canada, though both of those free K-5 Epic passes have residency restrictions attached.

Purchasing an Epic Pass

In terms of earning points, if you purchase one of the versions of the Epic Pass from Undercover Tourist, as I did last year (thanks to an Amex Offer), it should code as a travel charge since Undercover Tourist typically codes as a travel agency. This would enable you to earn bonus points on the travel charge via your Chase Sapphire ReserveChase Sapphire Preferred or Citi Premier Card.

You can compare similar ski passes, including the IKON and Mountain Collective passes, here and I’d love to hear your family’s approach to ski passes for the 2018 – 2019 ski season.

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