Season passes, day passes, buy-one-get-one lift tickets…all of these are options in Colorado. Here are a few things you need to know before you decide what pass you’ll be using to hit the slopes this year.

1. Skiing a lot? Just buy a season pass.

Sure, it sucks to pony up hundreds of dollars before the snow has even started falling, but if you’re skiing a lot, a season pass is probably your best bet. Season passes can range from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000. That might seem like a lot at first, but if you’re using it, it’s vastly cheaper than single-day lift tickets. For example, my pass cost me $650, but I’ve already used it 15 times this year. That breaks down to less than $45 dollars a day – way less than the $100+ single-day ticket price at the places I’m going. Some passes offer payment plans, but I’d recommend doing what I do and just saving for the pass year-round.

2. Several multi-resort passes exist.

Many resorts in Colorado are part of a multi-resort season pass, with Epic Pass (Vail Resorts) and the freshly-named “Ikon Pass” by Alterra Resorts being the two most popular. Don’t get stuck skiing the same slopes at one resort all season long. If you’re buying a season pass, you might as well buy a multi-resort pass. It’ll be a little pricier, but it gives you options. If you plan on hitting the slopes more than a few times, the variety is totally worth it. Note: Be aware of blackout dates before you buy.

3. Buying “Shell” gas can mean cheaper lift tickets.

In recent years, Shell gas station has offered a buy-one-get-one lift ticket option for people that purchase 10 gallons of gas or more in a single visit. All you have to do is print your receipt at the pump and show it to the cashier. The resorts featured tend to vary a little bit from season to season, but a few that tend to be on the short list include Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Copper Mountain Resort, and Powderhorn Mountain Resort. Again, be aware of blackout dates before planning your visit.

4. Some resorts offer discounts for certain things.

Some resorts offer free ski days for kids (Keystone), some resorts offer discounts to all pass holders (Monarch’s “Migration Ticket“), and some resorts deals for late season skiing…you just have to check the website or shoot them a quick call to ask what they offer.

5. Some passes come with insurance.

If you’re buying a season pass, purchasing insurance to go along with it might not be a bad idea. If you end up getting hurt during the season, you’ll generally receive a prorated amount of the initial purchase. That means that if you get hurt on the first day out, you’ll be able to save a little bit of dough. Here’s more information about the insurance specific to the “Epic Pass.”

6. Many passes come with perks.

Some Colorado lift tickets, generally the season passes, will have additional perks besides just access to the ski hill. Ask about these as you’re making your purchase. Whether it’s a discount on rentals or a percentage off your tab at a local pub, being aware of everything your lift ticket gets you can help you save some cash. For example, here’s a link that will show you what Epic Pass holders get discounts on.

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