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Want to ski Tahoe over the holidays? Here’s what it’ll cost you

A person skis down the side of a snowy mountain under a sunny sky.
A skier heads down the slopes at Palisades Tahoe, which topped the list with the most expensive holiday lift tickets. | Source: Blake Kessler/Courtesy Palisades Tahoe

Skiing and snowboarding are not sports for the faint of heart—and that gulp of courage often begins at the ticket window.

An analysis of pricing at Tahoe ski resorts finds that a one-day lift ticket at most mountains will run $150-$250 over the holidays during the 2023-24 winter season. 

Palisades topped the list with the most expensive holiday lift tickets. A one-day pass on the famed mountain will run $251 for the Saturday between Christmas and New Year’s, with Northstar closing in at $242 and Heavenly placing third-highest at $233.

A look back at 2022 holiday skiing prices shows Palisades’ lift ticket actually dropped $5 this year, while Northstar and Heavenly both increased in cost by approximately $40.

Of course, these three resorts are worth every penny to expert skiers—and those who aspire to be experts. Palisades, Northstar and Heavenly are massive mountains with tons of runs, lots of steep stuff and the true ski resort-type amenities and atmosphere that winter sports tourists love.

A Comparison of Tahoe Ski Resort Prices

Lift ticket pricing at most resorts is dynamic. The price factors in snow conditions, what day of the week it is and the current demand, which means it could cost much more or even a bit less when you click the “buy” button. On peak days, demand runs so high that Palisades now requires parking reservations on weekends and holidays.

Most resorts provide a discount for buying in advance on the website—in fact, since the pandemic, some places require skiers to buy lift tickets online.

To be sure, most frequent skiers purchase season or multiday passes to make the expense of the sport easier to handle. And the big ski resorts reward buying in bulk. But for those who can only afford to hit the mountain once in a while, the price for a single day on the slopes can be shocking.

To compare pricing fairly, The Standard gathered lift ticket prices on the same day. The analysis includes costs for a peak day of the season, the Saturday after Christmas, and a normal day, a weekday in late January.

Unsurprisingly, skiing over the holidays or other peak winter weekends runs double the price of a midweek day. A solid day of skiing at one of the smaller mountains a bit farther from the shores of Lake Tahoe can be had for $100 or less.

And on an average winter-season day, Tahoe’s top mountains seem like a deal compared with elite resorts in the Rockies. Vail, Park City, Beaver Creek and Deer Valley all cost a bit more during the holidays but significantly more on a winter midweek day.

How To Save Money Skiing Tahoe

Skiing midweek is one of the easiest ways to make skiing and snowboarding more affordable. Though it's too late to buy a seasonlong Epic or Ikon pass for this winter, all resorts offer multiday deals for as few as two days on the mountain.

Of course, rentals, accommodation and transportation add to the cost of an already pricey sport. Check out The Standard’s tips for more ways to save money when skiing Tahoe this winter.