With the cost of ski full-day lift tickets reaching $100 at a handful of high-end resorts, frugal skiers and snowboarders are finding a number of ways to save. Here are some simple tips:
1. Find deeply discounted tickets. Know when and where you plan to ski? Head to Liftopia.com and buy your tickets in advance for up to 90% off regular price. Liftopia sells discounted, date-specific lift tickets, rentals and lessons to more than 150 resorts in North America. You must buy in advance for the date you plan to ski, so purchase early if you are planning to go over a holiday. Mountain Sports Club’s annual $35 membership unleashes BOGO tickets and other savings.
2. Buy your tickets in advance at local retail shops, or at Costco, REI or even the local grocery store. Some local ski shops offer discounted lift tickets when buying at the shop, but search online to find area-specific deals. For example, in Utah, Canyon Sports, AJ Motion Sports and See ‘n Ski offer discounts. REI and Costco members can purchase discounted tickets in stores, but you will need to check with your local store to find out which tickets are available. Grocery stores such as Kroger (branded King Soopers and City Market in Colorado) often partner with ski resorts to sell discounted tickets at their Customer Service Desk.
3. BOGO FREE lift tickets with Shell fuel purchase. Skiers in Colorado and Michigan can receive a BOGO voucher for participating ski resorts with the purchase of 10 gallons of gasoline or more at select Shell stations beginning in January 2017. Visit skifreedeals.com for dates and details for this promotion.
4. Discounted lifts, lessons and rentals for newbies during January’s Learn to Ski or Snowboard Month. This nationwide program offers great beginner packages that include lift tickets, rentals and lessons at a minimal cost so newbies can get captivated by snowsports. Check for individual resort details here. Also, free or cheap cross-country and snowshoeing events across the country’s snowbelt are offered during Winter Trails Day (usually one day or one weekend at each venue).
5. Kids ski free programs. Steamboat was the first resort to offer free lifts, lodging and lessons on a one-on-one basis with parents for vacation stays of 5 days or longer. Vail Resort Inc.’s, participating Epic Pass resorts offer four or five days of free skiing to kindergarten through 5th grade students as part of their Epic SchoolKids program. Statewide programs enabling 5th-graders to ski free (and sometimes 3rd, 4th or 6th-graders to ski free or cheap) are offered in Colorado, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New York State, Michigan and others. Other resorts have followed with variations on the theme of kids ski free.
6. Think small! Colorado Gems Card, a discount card for use at eight smaller Colorado ski areas, costs just $20 and is good for a one-time buy-one, get-one lift ticket at each participating area (Arapahoe Basin, Eldora Mountain Resort, Loveland Ski Area, Monarch Mountain, Powderhorn Resort, Ski Cooper, Ski Granby Ranch and Sunlight Mountain Resort). It again includes a Flash Deals component for last-minute promotions and savings available only to Colorado Gems Card and announced via the Gems newsletter, on social media and on the Gems website.
7. Buy online from the resort. If you plan to go just a few days, get ticket three- or four-packs after the cut-off date for regular season passes. Vail Resorts offer tiered pricing that varies according to dates and conditions. On an early- or late-season day when not all lifts and runs are open, prices can be 30% or more lower than during the holidays. But these must be purchased in advance. In Colorado, Vail’s best-price window is seven days out, while at Lake Tahoe resorts, it’s three days.
8. Bring a buddy. Many ski areas encourage season pass-holders to bring friends by offering a discounted ticket price.
9. Save with teen or senior pricing. Age matters. Children’s ticket prices typically end at age 12, but some additionally sell teen or student tickets and/or season passes. Vermont’s iconic Stowe Mountain resort offers an array of age-related options for season passes: big savings on child/youth (ages 6 to 18), young adult (ages 19 to 34), full- or part-time college students with valid ID. Or…get old and save with senior tickets for age 65+, 68+ or 70+. Some areas offer super-senior tickets as well.
10. Look for multi-area passes. Corporations that own several ski resorts often permit unlimited use at some or all. Think Vail Resorts, Inc., Aspen Skiing Corp., POWDR Corp., Boyne Resorts and others. Other unrelated areas have joined together to offer economical skiing to some of the continent’s biggest and best known areas. The best known is The Mountain Collective, offering two days each at 14 of North America’s most famous resorts and additional days at substantial discounts. The $699 M.A.X Pass gives five days at each of 39 North American mountains with no blackout dates. Have a season pass to your local area? A $349 add-on accesses 38 more.