Vail Resorts owns not just Vail but also a half dozen other ski resorts including Northstar, Park City, Heavenly, and Breckenridge. If you’re the kind of person who likes to ski at a lot of different places, this can make it easier to buy one lift pass and explore varied terrain. The EPIC pass from Vail Resorts includes a variety of options — but you need to book before November 22.
Four- and seven-day EPIC passes provide exactly what they describe: four or seven lift tickets that you can use at any of the Vail Resorts mountains. You don’t have to use them all at once, either. I’ll admit I only ski a few days a year, usually on weekends for two or three days before heading home. A seven-day EPIC pass would let me purchase all of those lift tickets in advance at a sizable discount.
For example, individual lift tickets at Heavenly Lake Tahoe can cost $103 per day. Pre-purchasing a seven-day pass saves $102 vs. seven individual lift tickets. At Vail, single-day tickets cost $142 per day, representing $375 in savings. Plus you get additional free ski passes at Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton, two smaller resorts. There are no blackout dates on these two passes.
Admittedly, this deal is better or worse depending on where you ski, how often, and your desired flexibility. If you only want to go to Lake Tahoe, for example, there is a $469 Tahoe Value pass that includes tickets for just Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood — though only Heavenly can be accessed on Saturdays.
In past years I’ve often held off on purchasing tickets until I have my ski trips finalized. I may know in advance where I want to go, but I don’t know when. By the time I book, these discounted passes are no longer available. Fortunately you don’t need to know when you’re going in order to buy and use EPIC passes — just as long as you avoid the blackout dates, if any. And with the flexibility they provide, you can change plans to visit a different resort if the snow doesn’t materialize at your original destination.
Likewise, using award miles is a great way to lock in some cheap flights and hotels. Hotel awards may require some advance notice but carry no penalty if you cancel. Airline awards can often be cancelled up until the day of departure, and any fees will be waived if you have elite status. I’ll have more tips on booking ski season award travel later this week.