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The Most Expensive Lift Tickets on the Planet

by Dan Giesin | January 14, 2020

There is little doubt that skiing and snowboarding are spectacular ways of passing time through the cold winter months.

Fresh air.

Invigorating exercise. 

Face shots.

Silky smooth cruisers.

Expansive vistas.

Exhilarating steeps.

These are just a few of the many benefits you reap when you step into your bindings.

But all this comes at a cost, and your pocketbook can take a huge hit when you head for the hills.

How huge?

Barrier-bustin’ prices

Well, the $200 barrier was broken for the first time recently when Vail and sister resort Beaver Creek (pictured above) charged $219 for a lift ticket during the Christmas-New Year holiday season.

But other resorts around North America aren’t too far behind in their top-end daily fees: Breckenridge charges $189; Deer Valley has a $180 rack rate; Steamboat, Aspen-Snowmass, Park City and Mammoth Mountain come in at $179, and Copper Mountain and Whistler Blackcomb are $178 per day. In all there are more than 29 resorts in North America that charge at least $140 for a single-day lift ticket.

Whew. That’s a lot of clams to shell out for (potentially) long lift lines, crowded slopes, overpriced chili and banquet beer.

And it seems even more expensive when you compare New World lift ticket rates with those in Europe. For instance, you can ski for a day at Flims-Laax-Falera in Switzerland for 89 Swiss francs (roughly $92), at Espace Killy in France for 61 euros ($68), at Val Gardena in Italy for 57 euros ($63.50) and Kitzbuheler Alpen in Austria for 58 euros ($64.50). And those are the top-end options.

You can pay even more

But if you think those aforementioned North American lift ticket prices are a bit on the steep side, there are two other hills — Sunlight Mountain and Yellowstone — where it can cost you a whole lot more.

  • Sunlight, a modest resort just outside Glenwood Springs, Colo., will sell you a daily lift ticket for $700. And for those seven Benjamins you get 3 lifts, 680 skiable acres, 2,000 feet of vertical — and a pair of custom-made Meier skis dubbed the Sunny 700 and a day pass at nearby Iron Mountain Hot Springs resort. (There’s also a $600 option for snowboarders). Without the ski/snowboard add-on it costs $68 to ride the lifts at Sunlight.
  • Yellowstone Club won’t sell you a lift ticket because it’s a private resort. But if you can somehow come up with $4 million for a condo or $5 million for a single-family home, plus a $300,000 initiation fee and $36,000 per annum in dues, you can have Yellowstone Club’s 2,700 skiable acres, 2,700 vertical feet and several high-speed quads practically all to yourself. Oh, yeah, you also get access to the lifts at neighboring Big Sky resort.

Worth the price

Yes, there is no doubt that handing over hard-earned cash solely for the chance to play in the snow can be an expensive proposition.

But is it all worth it?

If you hit the hill on the right day, it’s worth every single freakin’ penny.

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