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Season Ski Passes: Are They Worth it or Not? [Find Out]

Many new skiers and snowboards toy with the idea of getting a season ski pass but as soon as they look, they are often shocked by the high prices. If you are learning to ski or someone who loves to ski, you’ll often have to bite the bullet and buy a season ski pass. It’s not for everyone though. Some people will find season ski passes to be worth it while for others it can be a waste. Before you go out and buy one, let’s determine who they are best for.

How Much Do Season Ski Passes Cost?

On the low-end season passes for skiing usually start in the $500-$600 range and top out at well around $2,000 for large premium resorts. Aside from just comparing resort to resort, you need to compare the Epic, Indy and Ikon passes when making a ski pass choice if you want to save money.

Getting a multi-resort pass can be cheaper than some of the premium ski resort passes and they provide you access to more resorts than you can ride. Want to ride the west coast, no problem, east coast, no issue. They don’t lock you into a single ski resort which can be a benefit in itself!

For budgeting purposes, you should anticipate $1,100 for a season-long ski pass and it’s important not to forget to set aside a budget for any gear upgrades, gas, and lodging. 

While ski passes have a cost upfront, too often people don’t look at the whole picture which includes their gas and if they travel to the lodging as mentioned. Those two costs alone can drive up the cost of the winter sport easily into the $2,000 range for a season.

Is Skiing Expensive?

To many people, $2,000 can sound expensive and it is but what if you were to compare that to buying a lift ticket every day. Skiing is without a doubt an expensive sport but even more so if you don’t opt for a season pass and just go a few times in a season.

downhill skier ski lifts at Mammoth Lakes, California

So, What is the Breakeven on a Season Ski Pass?

The big question people ask when buying a ski pass is, “How long will it take to break even if I just bought lift tickets.” Take into account that an average lift ticket can run around $120 a day, just 10 days of skiing and it would be with it to go with a season pass.

That’s a fraction of a ski season when there can be more than 90 days to ski or snowboard. Think about how much it would cost to ski for 30 days and buy individual lift tickets for each day. That would just be crazy. The thought alone makes it easier to stomach a season pass if you are on the fence.

Even options like the Indy pass which gives 2 days at select resorts can be cheaper and break-even in as few as 3 to 4 ski days. It just goes to show there are much better options than the standard lift ticket. With that being said, some people still go for the one-time lift ticket, and here’s why…

When You Should Buy a Lift Ticket at a Ski Resort

The only time it makes sense to buy a lift ticket is if it is a one-off visit to a resort or you don’t plan to go much during the season. If you are hesitating on a season pass then it is probably worth it. Some other reasons to buy a single lift ticket are as follows -

For most people, the season pass or hopper passes like an Indy or Ikon pass is the way to go.

When You Should Buy a Season Pass for Skiing

It can be a big chunk of money but a season pass is often worth it. Here are 5 reasons why you should go for the season pass:

Considering all that, season ski passes definitely start to make sense. Plus, passes at resorts and the multi-resort passes have gotten easier to pay for as they allow paying for them over an extended period of time. There’s really no excuse to go without a season pass if you plan to ski or snowboard a lot.

Skiing For Free: How Can I Do It?

If the season pass will hit the wallet too hard, there is always the option of working at a ski resort. So many people use this trick every year to ride as much fresh powder as they want. Sure, you’ll have to sacrifice your time and freedom but it is certainly better than a single-day lift ticket and much cheaper than a season pass to ski. It also doesn't hurt that the resort pays you.

One big drawback though is you are locked into a single resort so you better love your home base ski resort. Some resorts will let you ski at their sister resort if you are an employee but for total freedom, a multi-resort pass is the way to go.

Are Season Ski Passes Worth it? 

Not all season passes are worth it but most are.

It might not make sense to go with a single resort season pass if they are charging $2,000 when multi-resort passes can be a cheaper option. If there was a clear winner, it would be the multi-resort passes but at the end of the day, it’s about getting on the trails.

It doesn’t matter which pass you get, as long as you get one. Compare before you get a season pass and you’ll be in for an amazing winter ski or snowboard season!

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