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Feb 112014
 February 11, 2014  Posted by  Hot Deals, Recreation, Travel
Steamboat pioneered the “Kids Ski Free” policy three decades ago. Photo: Larry Pearce, Steamboat Resort

Virtually every ski area in the land offers free skiing for youngsters to age 5 or 6, but only a handful extend free skiing to older offspring. In many cases, children also stay free when bunking with their parents. This is, of course, of significance to families with youngsters in that age group. Alas, many of these deals are in effect only during non-holiday periods and/or midweek, but they offer big savings for flexible families.

Steamboat, a mammoth Colorado ski resort known for its trademark Champagne Powder, was the pioneer in free skiing for children. The resort launched its Kids Ski Free program in 1982 — that’s 31 years ago, friends — and it is still going strong. In recognition of inter-generational travel, Kids Ski Free has spawned Grandkids Ski Free. In both programs, children 12 and younger ski free, stay free and rent equipment free for the same number of days as their parents/grandparents. It requires the purchase of a five-day or longer adult lift ticket. Seniors (ages 70-plus) must purchase an adult ticket. Each qualifying purchase allows one free child per paid adult. Book online or call 877-783-2628.

Keystone, Colorado got into the kids-ski-free act this season, requiring only a minimum two-night stay at a Keystone-owned and -operated property for youngsters 12 and younger to ski free. Keystone runs most of the lodging at the base of the lifts, always a convenience for families. The deal is valid every day of the season, with no blackout dates. Another bonus is Keystone’s massive night skiing operation, with lifts running until 8 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday for most of the season and nightly in March. This is great for energetic youngsters who simply don’t want to get off the mountain. Book online or call 800-323-1312.

At Colorado’s Crested Butte, kids up to age 12 stay and ski FREE when guests book lodging online through Crested Butte Vacations for stays of two nights or longer between Mar. 14 and Apr. 6. Family-friendly Crested Butte prints a trail map for youngsters to show them some awesome trails where adult skis won’t even fit. One free child per adult ticket.

Durango Mountain Resort in Colorado’s southwest corner introduced kids ski free last season. Mom and Dad pay for four nights of lodging and four days lift of tickets, and the resort throws in two kids’ lift tickets for free. Rates start at $229 per family, per night. Lodging options include units of various sizes slopeside in Purgatory Village, at Cascade Village one mile north of the ski area or at the Lodge at Tamarron, 10 minutes south with shuttle service to the slopes. This deal is available the rest of the season except on March 7 to March 15. That means MLK Weekend is available! Reserve by calling 800-525-0892.

In neighboring Utah, Snowbird allows youngsters to age 12 to ski free with most lodging packages. For instance, the five-day “Ski Free Stay 5th Night Free” package includes the fifth day of skiing and fifth night of lodging free for adults, plus free skiing for youngsters every day. The Mountain Vacation features four nights or more of lodging, four Snowbird  lift tickets per adult, one complimentary half-day group lesson per adult (16 and older) and ground transportation to and from the Salt Lake International Airport. Kids 12 and younger ski free for every night of their stay. The deal is available through April 14, “Spring Stay & Ski” deals begin April 4, and you must book a minimum of three nights of lodging to get daily lift tickets for adults at rates starting at $99, plus free kids’ skiing for kids 12 and younger for every night of stay on this package. Valid April 4-May 6, 2014. Book online or call  800-232-9542.

A Ski Utah program allows 5th and 6th graders to ski FREE at each of Utah’s 14 resorts during the season. Fifth graders ski or ride three times FREE* at each of Utah’s 14 resorts with Ski Utah’s Fifth Grade Passport. The Sixth Grade Passport allows sixth graders to ski or ride one time FREE* at each resort. (*$25 processing fee)

At Red River in northern New Mexico, when families stay at a participating lodging facility for a minimum of three days and purchase a three-day or  longer lift ticket, one child up to age 10 per adult stays free and receives a lift ticket for the same number of days. An accommodations voucher from the property must be presented at the ticket desk to receive the Kids Ski & Stay Free lift ticket. Blackout dates are December 26 to January 2 and March 9 to 15. Book directly with the property.

Up at storied Sun Valley, Idaho, families booking their vacations through not only get 20% off adult ski tickets, but kids 15 and younger ski free with each paid adult ticket for the same number of days. Blackout dates are December 21 to January 5 and February 14 to February 23. Click here for participating lodging properties or call 800-844-3246.

At beautiful Big Sky in Montana’s spectacular Yellowstone Country, children 10 and younger ski free when staying at lodging booked via Big Sky Central Reservations or Moonlight Basin Reservations. Click here for accommodations options or call 800-548-4486. Regardless of where the family stays (which could even be with friends in Bozeman), kids 10 and younger ski free all day whenever they are enrolled in ski or snowboard lessons.

Kids 12 and younger ski free at Mount Bachelor in central Oregon the same number of days as their parents with the purchase of a multi-day adult lift ticket — one free kid’s ticket per paid adult. With no blackouts or restrictions, families can ski while the kids are out of school for the holidays. This offer must be purchased online at least four days prior to arrival. Once at the resort, tickets are printed at any open ticket window, and all family members must be present in order to receive the Kids Ski Free tickets. These tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable. For more information, call 800-829-2442.

Killington in central Vermont is a resort so huge and complex that it is nicknamed “the Beast of the East.” Kids Ski Free applies to youngsters to age 12 when guests book a Ski & Stay lodging package including a five-day or longer lift ticket. One child skis free per adult for the same number of days. The offer is not valid when the ticket duration includes any of the following peak days: December 21 to January 1, 2013,  January 18 to 20, or February 15 to 21. Book online.

At Cataloochie, North Carolina, “Kids Stay Free Kids Ski Free” doesn’t stop at age 12. There, youngsters 17 and younger stay free at a participating Haywood County accommodation during any non-holiday Sunday through Thursday evening —  and they also ski free on any non-holiday Monday through Friday when accompanied by a paying adult. Make reservations directly with the lodging property.

Photo source: Larry Pearce, Steamboat Resort

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Jenny Willden

Jenny Willden loves living frugally and has been sharing deals since before Groupon existed. She’s never met a sale she didn’t like and enjoys attending free events from farmers’ markets to llama fests. Jenny edits Outdoor Sports Guide magazine in Salt Lake City and writes for Adventure Traveler Online, where she shares her passions of outdoor adventuring and travel. When she's not traveling, you’ll find her exploring Utah’s mountains by horse or snowboard. A lifelong writer, she has been published in The Washington Times, Digital Scrapbooking, Simple Scrapbooks, Salt Lake City Weekly, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Zions Bank Community. She appears occasionally on the Utah daytime television program, KSL Studio 5, to talk about outdoor recreation. Jenny owns and operates Salt Lake City on the Cheap.

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