Holiday lift ticket prices break $100

Remember when lift ticket prices were cheap? They still can be if you plan in advance. ESPN.com

During next week's Christmas holiday week, lift ticket prices at ski resorts will reach an all-time high. From Dec. 26 through Jan. 1, Colorado's Vail and Beaver Creek have increased holiday single-day ticket prices to $108, up from $98 last year.

This marks the first time a ski resort has passed the $100 mark for day tickets.

The ticket price at Vail and Beaver Creek will drop to $102 after Jan. 2. Breckenridge, also a Vail Resort, will charge $104 during the holiday week, and $99 after New Year's Day. Colorado's Aspen and Telluride also have increased their ticket price to just a few dollars short of $100 for this season.

But don't write off your Christmas ski trip just yet. There are ways to find discount ticket prices this holiday season. It just requires some advance planning.

Comparing Ticket Prices

We looked up some ticket prices at ski resorts in the same general area. Here's what we found:


Big Sky: $81
Bridger Bowl: $47


Stowe: $89
Mad River Glen: $65


Copper: $96
Loveland: $59
Crested Butte: $87
Wolf Creek: $52

Pacific Northwest

Whistler, BC: $94 (Canadian)
Mt. Baker, Wash. $51


Homewood: $57
Squaw Valley: $86

"If you walked into the airport today to buy a plane ticket from say, JFK to San Francisco, you're going to pay top dollar. Whereas if you book online and in advance, you'll save a lot," said Ron Schneidermann, co-founder of Liftopia.com, an online marketplace for discount lift tickets. "The same thing is happening in the ski industry. If you walk up to the ticket window, you're going to pay a lot more than if you do some research and book online in advance."

According to Schneidermann, the same online travel market used to book hotels, airline tickets and rental cars is being applied to ski resort lift tickets.

"The ski industry is shifting to an advance purchasing model," he said. "So the key thing is to book in advance. Do your research online. If you're willing to buy a date-specific ticket, you'll see huge savings."

When Liftopia.com launched in October 2006, they had seven resort partners. Today, they have about 150, some of which offer up to 90 percent off on lift tickets. Vail Resorts tickets aren't available on Liftopia.com, but Vail does offer a discount on tickets if you buy on its website in advance.

Other tips for saving money? Ski off-peak dates -- midweek, not during a holiday. "The off-peak dates, just like with hotel rooms, are going to be the best value," Schneidermann says. "Even on Christmas Day, New Year's Day or Super Bowl Sunday -- days that aren't big for the resorts -- if you look online you can find deals on those days."

Schneidermann also suggested checking out smaller ski resorts in the same area, which tend to offer cheaper tickets.