New To Ski

How Much Does It ACTUALLY Cost To Ski In Colorado? (We Did The Painful Math)

by Travis McCullough | Updated: October 27th, 2022
Colorado Ski

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There’s a reason that skiers travel from around the globe to experience the slopes and snow that Colorado has to offer, it’s steep, it’s deep, and because the entire state stands at least 3,000 feet above sea level, the season is long.  Skiing isn’t cheap, especially in this state, but how much does it actually cost to ski in Colorado?

This exact number will vary greatly and is determined by things like lift tickets, equipment & rentals, lessons, lodging, transportation & parking, and food.  Worst case scenario, you can expect to shell out upwards of $700 a day, though some of the expenses can be mitigated if you have your own equipment & transport and don’t need lessons or childcare.

Colorado Ski Resorts

    Lift Tickets

    skier chair lifts

    Since the 2020 pandemic, the IKON/EPIC super-passes lift ticket prices have a lot more variability in their price from day to day; historically, there were early/main season prices as well as weekday/weekend/holiday prices.  Now, most mountains limit the number of lift tickets they sell each day for non-pass holders, which causes the prices to fluctuate on a daily or weekly basis, so be sure to check in with the mountain you want to ski at to get an exact price.

    Key Takeaway: You can expect to pay more on weekends, holiday weeks, and during the main season. 

    Early and late season prices are usually slightly lower.  Use the following table to give you an idea of what you will spend for a day of skiing, but it is imperative that you check the resort’s website directly to get an exact price.

    All prices are in $USD, the same day at the window, average, regular season, and single day for the 2022/23 season.

    Resort NameChild Weekday/ WeekendTeen Weekday/ WeekendAdult Weekday/ WeekendSenior Weekday/ Weekend
    Arapahoe Basin Ski Area59 / 6979 / 9989 / 10999 / 109
    Aspen Snowmass131 / 141131 / 141189 / 199131 / 141
    Beaver Creek Resort132 / 170132 / 170215 / 275191 / 237
    Breckenridge Resort142 / 166142 / 166220 / 255209 / 245
    Copper Mountain99 / 11999 / 119144 / 179144 / 179
    Crested Butte Mountain Resort86 / 96149 / 165149 / 165125 / 139
    Echo MountainTBDTBDTBDTBD
    Eldora MountainTBDTBDTBDTBD
    Howelsen HillFree31 / 3143 / 4331 / 31
    Keystone Ski Resort113 / 131113 / 131195 / 225185 / 215
    Loveland Ski AreaFree40 / 40119 / 11989 / 89
    Monarch Mountain64 / 7974 / 89104 / 11974 / 89
    PowderhornFree29 / 3469 / 7479 / 84
    PurgatoryFree52 / 7952 / 7952 / 79
    Silverton Mountain99 / 9999 / 9999 / 9999 / 99
    Ski CooperFree60 / 6080 / 80Free
    Ski Granby RanchFree82 / 82117 / 117117 / 117
    Steamboat133 / 144133 / 144177 / 192167 / 182
    Sunlight Mountain ResortFree49 / 4969 / 6949 / 49
    TellurideFree106 / 119209 / 219160 / 179
    Vail Ski Resort155 / 169225 / 245225 / 245215 / 235
    Wolf Creek Ski AreaFree41 / 4182 / 8251 / 51
    Listed prices are correct at the time of publishing – check the resort website directly for updates.

    Equipment & Rentals

    Check Price on Backcountry.com

    Obviously, you can save some money in this category by owning and bringing your own gear, Denver International Airport is no stranger to handling skis and snowboards, but unless you are a full-time skier you will most likely need to rent equipment

    See Also:  5 Ways To Safely Secure Skis In A Truck Bed? (Bags, Racks & Containers)

    Resorts will offer any piece of equipment or clothing you could possibly need, no matter the weather conditions, and will usually offer a discount for renting packages of gear (boots, skis, and poles).

    You can rent equipment from independent rental shops or directly from the mountain, both will offer basic and performance gear based on your experience level. 

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    Key Takeaway: Either way, you can expect to spend an average of $20-$40 for single pieces of equipment or closer to $65 dollars for a package.

    Lessons

    Checking out the ski school department at your next mountain is always advisable if you haven’t skied in a while or are new to the sport.  Resorts will usually offer group lessons for cheaper, and individual/private lessons for a higher rate.

    This rate varies greatly depending on if you want a group or private lesson and between mountains, but on average you can expect to pay upwards of $150 dollars per person. 

    This may sound like a lot of money, but any amount of money is better than sustaining an injury on the mountain and cutting your trip short (including paying upwards of $750 for a half-day lesson at Aspen).

    Lodging

    skiers lodging

    You are going to need a place to stay right?  Hotels, condos, and ski-in ski-out chalet costs can stack up quickly but if you are flying into Colorado consider purchasing a package with your flight to save some money. 

    Key Takeaway: Some resorts will also offer discounts on lodging with lift ticket packages so be sure to contact the mountain well in advance to receive the best deal.

    Ski-in and ski-out lodging can cost upwards of $1000 dollars per night, even a hotel with basic amenities in a ski town can easily run you $200 nightly.  You can expect lodging to be one of the highest costs on a ski trip, so be sure to check in with the mountain about any deals they may be offering.

    Transportation

    Getting to and from the mountain can be a chore, especially during a blizzard, so don’t rule out taking a shuttle or bus just yet.  Renting a car will be the most convenient option, as far as determining your own schedule, but you probably won’t save any money unless you are planning a trip with the entire family. 

    The ski industry has been booming in Colorado since day one, and the state has put ample time into infrastructure upgrades to reflect this.

    Key Takeaway: If saving money is the name of the game or you are traveling solo, be sure to check out the Snowstang bus tickets.

    This service is much cheaper than any other option and makes stops along most of the major resorts along the I-70 corridor, including Copper, Loveland, and Arapahoe Basin for $25 and Steamboat for $40. No matter how cheap gas gets, this will still be a cheaper option than driving yourself, plus you can even take a nap instead of navigating white-out conditions or bumper-to-bumper traffic.

    Shuttle services are slightly more expensive than the bus system, you can expect to pay around double the price of a bus, but have the added bonus of smaller crowds and a more customized schedule.  This can be well worth it when traveling with a large group or small children. 

    Car in Snow

    Renting a vehicle will give you the most privacy and freedom with your schedule, but you will need to rent something large enough to transport gear (if you have any) and with 4WD/AWD, so don’t expect to pay less than $100 a day plus gas

    See Also:  My Advice To Stay Hydrated While Skiing (& Why You Should Never Eat Snow!)

    Important: Winter storms are commonplace throughout the state of Colorado so if you don’t feel comfortable driving in these conditions, you may want to opt for a bus, shuttle service or private taxi.

    Parking

    Not all mountains charge for parking, but it is becoming more common every ski season so you should factor this into your transportation costs.  Usually, only bigger mountains like Copper, Vail, and Breckenridge charge for parking, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $10-$60 a day if you choose to drive yourself to the mountain.

    In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, so that snow continues to fall in Colorado, this is another big reason to consider taking a shuttle or bus to the mountain.  Even at $10 a day, 7 days of parking could pay for an extra lift ticket at some resorts.

    Food

    skier in yellow pants

    Since ski resorts aren’t usually centrally located within town centers, you are going to have to plan and pack food for the day or bite the bullet and pay for food on the mountain.  If you drive to the mountain, your car can double as a refrigerator, otherwise, your choices on bringing your desired cuisine to the mountain are going to be limited.

    It’s completely reasonable to expect to pay $20-$30 per meal, and much higher than that should you choose to belly up to the bar.  It should be noted that alcohol and skiing don’t mix, especially if you are coming from a low elevation to upwards of 10,000 feet at a resort. 

    Advice: If you do choose to indulge, obviously drink responsibly and balance your beers with water and electrolytes to avoid dehydration and altitude sickness.

    Childcare

    Maybe you have some kids in tow that are too young to ski, and if so you will need to take advantage of the childcare center on the mountain.  Most, but not all, mountains offer this service so be sure to check before booking your flight if this is something you need for your ski trip.

    Spots are limited and are usually booked up in advance. You can expect to pay around $150.  If you want to avoid this cost you could always enroll your child in ski school and get them started on their journey toward becoming a new skier at the best sport in the world.

    Which Resorts Tend To Be Cheaper?

    Colorado ski

    If you have never been to Colorado and a curious about which resorts/towns tend to be the most expensive, here is a list of the most expensive, standard, and least expensive resorts/towns.  These include off-mountain costs like food, gas, and lodging.

    Luxury

    Average

    Super Budget

    You may have noticed that the larger and more famous mountains that everyone has heard of are toward the top of the list… These don’t necessarily mean better mountains, but they are most certainly more popular, and therefore, more crowded. 

    Tip: Don’t be afraid to take a chance on a smaller mountain, you very well may get more runs in each day versus standing in long lift lines.

    Total Cost Of Skiing In Colorado

    creek colorado
    Photo by Francisco Carbajal licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

    Alright, it’s time to total up all of our costs and find out how much a ski trip to Colorado costs per person per day. 

    This is just an average of each cost in each of the three resort price categories, or what a common trip to each looks like, and can vary greatly depending on your method of travel, which mountain you choose to ski at, and your lodging selection.

    We’ve broken costs down into three main categories depending on your finances: Luxury, Standard, and Super Budget.

    Luxury Total Cost

    These are the average costs for a day of skiing at a luxury resort. They are based on the average ticket prices for a luxury resort plus the above-average cost for each category.

    Average Child Weekday/Weekend Lift Ticket Price:$116/132
    Average Teen Weekday/Weekend Lift Ticket Price:$145/164
    Average Adult Weekday/Weekend Lift Ticket Price:$202/231
    Average Senior Weekday/Weekend Lift Ticket Price:$179/203
    Average Equipment Rental Price:$85
    Average Transportation Price:$100
    Average Ski School Price: $250
    Average Food Price:$30
    Average Childcare Price:$200
    Average Lodging Price: $400
    Average Total Price: $1,234

    Standard Total Cost

    Skiing toward Lenzerheide
    Nordic Skiers, Colorado

    These are the average costs for a day of skiing at a standard-price resort. These are based on the average ticket prices for a standard resort plus the average cost for each category.

    Average Child Weekday/Weekend Lift Ticket Price:$61/69
    Average Teen Weekday/Weekend Lift Ticket Price:$93/105
    Average Adult Weekday/Weekend Lift Ticket Price:$131/147
    Average Senior Weekday/Weekend Lift Ticket Price:$116/127
    Average Equipment Rental Price:$65
    Average Transportation Price:$67
    Average Ski School Price: $150
    Average Food Price:$25
    Average Childcare Price:$150
    Average Lodging Price: $200
    Average Total Price: $763

    Super Budget Total Cost

    Laax
    Photo by Bryon & Olivia licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

    These are the average costs for a day of skiing at a super-budget resort. They are based on the average ticket price for a super-budget resort plus the below-average cost for each category.

    Average Child Weekday/Weekend Lift Ticket Price:$14/14
    Average Teen Weekday/Weekend Lift Ticket Price:$51/52
    Average Adult Weekday/Weekend Lift Ticket Price:$70/75
    Average Senior Weekday/Weekend Lift Ticket Price:$52/56
    Average Equipment Rental Price:$50
    Average Transportation Price:$40
    Average Ski School Price: $100
    Average Food Price:$20
    Average Childcare Price:$100
    Average Lodging Price: $100
    Average Total Price: $458

    While these numbers may seem depressingly high, they account for a few things that many skiers will not need to worry about like childcare, equipment rental, and ski school.  As you progress in the sport, purchase your own gear, and find a friend with a quality Colorado couch to crash on for free, your daily costs start to plummet.

    Vail Colorado

    Colorado Ski Resorts Map

    Final Thoughts

    Unfortunately, skiing in Colorado isn’t cheap to get into, especially if you have to travel halfway across the country, but I promise that is always worth the money.  The massive snowstorms that dump powder all over the state are not few and far between, and every skier should experience them at least once in a lifetime.

    There is a reason that so many people travel to the state, experience their first epic winter, and never leave.

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