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Some Ski Areas Now Charge $300 for a Day Pass. Ugh.

Last month, the Snowbowl ski area just north of Flagstaff, Arizona made headlines when its single-day lift ticket surpassed $300. In this case, the high price tag was the result of “dynamic pricing,” a strategy that allows popular ski resorts to charge more for tickets as demand surges. It may make economic sense, but not all skiers agree that it’s the right thing to do. 

There are pros and cons to dynamic pricing. If you decide to ski during an unpopular day—say, a random Wednesday late in the season—you’ll be able to snag an inexpensive ticket. But if you ski on a powder day during peak season, you could end up shelling out hundreds of dollars. 

Snowbowl ski area in Arizona. Image by Md Esharuzzaman Emu/Getty

The other con of dynamic pricing is that it can make skiing inaccessible for less privileged groups. Most people—especially middle-class and lower middle-class families—can’t easily get weekdays off to go skiing because they have jobs or childcare duties to attend to. 

However, some skiers argue that dynamic pricing prevents crowding on the ski hill, and that it doesn’t affect as many people as the sensationalist media coverage would have you think. After all, the vast majority of lift tickets at Snowbowl still ring up around $100 per day on average. 

Even so, Snowbowl’s $300 lift ticket might not just be a one-time novelty. Given the current inflation rates and shorter winters that many resorts are experiencing, they’ll have to recoup their money somehow. Pricier lift tickets may be the only way for many resorts to stay in business. Plus, there are several resorts that are already inching toward the $300 threshold. Here are a few of the single most expensive adult lift tickets in the U.S. (as of February 2023):

  • Telluride, Colorado: $209 per day 
  • Aspen, Colorado: $224 per day  
  • Vail Resort, Colorado: $262 per day. 
  • Beaver Creek Resort, Colorado: $262 per day
  • Deer Valley, Utah: $269 per day
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