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 nine simple tips to get free or cheap ski lift tickets:
1. Go online to 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 250 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 premium members could save up to 50% on lift tickets, lodging, travel, shopping and more with personalized coupons they use daily. Join now as a premium member and start saving. The premium membership costs $60, but right now the website states a discount to $9.95 for the 2020-2021 season.
2. Buy your tickets in advance at local retail shops, Costco or REI.
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.
3. Access 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 with your region’s ski and snowboard association or individual resorts for details.
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). Ski Vermont lists deals at its snowboarding and ski websites.
4. Look for 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 five 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.
Apply as soon as possible to these popular programs. Other resorts have followed with variations on the theme of kids ski free.
5. Small resorts offer big deals.
Colorado Gems Card, a discount card for use at 11 smaller Colorado ski areas, costs $35 and is good for either two two-for-one lift tickets or two 30 percent off lift tickets at each participating area (Arapahoe Basin, Cooper, Echo Mountain, Eldora Mountain Resort, Granby Ranch, Hesperus, Kendall Mountain, Loveland Ski Area, Monarch Mountain, Powderhorn Resort 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. Check out mid-week prices and compare to busier weekend prices.
Some places like Ski Butternut in Massachusetts offers deals on weekdays.
6. 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. Some 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.
7. Ski with a pass-holding buddy.
Many ski areas encourage season pass-holders to bring friends by offering a discounted ticket price.
8. 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. Similarly, seniors can save with discount tickets for ages 65+, 68+ or 70+. Some areas offer super-senior tickets as well.
9. 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 23 of North America’s most famous resorts and additional days at substantial discounts.
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