Skiing and snowboarding may not be cheap hobbies to pick up, but despite the cost of equipment and full-day lift tickets, there are plenty of ways to save money. After all, who wants to pay $200-plus to hit the slopes when they can have the adventure for much less?
Follow these tips on getting cheap resort passes, so next time you hit the slopes you can use the savings for a hearty aprés-ski.
Ski on a weekday
That’s right; if you choose to hit the slopes Monday through Thursday, there often is a discount. Not every resort offers this deal, but it’s worth checking out when planning a trip. Holiday weeks, unfortunately, usually cost more overall.
Buy tickets in advance
Sure you can go to a ski resort and get a day pass, but if you plan a little, chances are you’ll save $10 to $20 on the ticket. For example, if you want to ski Mount Snow in Vermont, a day-of ticket for an adult costs around $124; buy one online a few days prior and it’s around $97.
Local outdoor shops and ski outfitters are also a good option when looking for free or cheap lift tickets, and some places even offer discounted lift tickets and rentals when buying at the shop. For example, in Utah, Canyon Sports and AJ Motion Sports offer discounts.
“Taking advantage of early-season deals will provide the most options,” said Randy England, director of brand marketing at the outfitter Christy Sports in Colorado. For example, Christy Sports Powder Daze Event during Labor Day Weekend always offers a variety of ski resorts on-site with exclusive discounts on single and multi-day tickets.
REI and Costco members can sometimes purchase discounted tickets in stores too, but you will need to check with your local store to find out which tickets are available.
Go online to find discounted tickets
Websites such as Liftopia.com and getskitickets.com offer discounts, and you can look up lift tickets based on where you want to go and when. Often rentals and lessons are also listed, and over 250 North American resorts are represented.
Keep in mind some places sell out of their deals quickly, especially when it’s for popular resorts. Visit these sites at the beginning of the season for the best prices.
Groupon is also a place to find discounted ski lift tickets and other winter sports deals. Go to this page on Groupon and plug in your vacation destination for skiing and snowboarding deals.
Mountain Sports Club’s premium members could save up to 50% on lift tickets, lodging, travel, shopping and more with personalized coupons.
Join a club
For a membership fee, there are ski clubs that offer discounted tickets. Indy Pass is one, but it is waitlisted for the 2023-2024 season. Starting at $369, members get passes for two days each at over 120 independent ski areas across the U.S., Canada and Japan. Plus, if you stay a third day you get 25% off the lift ticket.
Mountain Sports Club gives premium members BOGO two-for-one lift tickets plus savings on lodging, travel, shopping and more with personalized daily coupons. This company works in tandem with Indy Pass, and some deals garner memberships for both companies.
Take advantage of Learn to Ski programs
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 snow sports. 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 the annual Winter Trails Day. The date changes yearly and and involves almost 100 resorts and Nordic centers nationwide. This special event brings around 11,000 kids and adults on the snow each year.
Look for ‘kids ski free’ programs
If you can’t cut costs on adult lift passes, find the savings through the kids. Steamboat in Colorado was the first resort to offer free lifts, lodging and lessons 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 fifth grade students as part of their Epic SchoolKids program. Just make sure to book it early. Registration is already closed for 2023-2024 and will reopen in the spring.
In Colorado there is the Ski Passport, which gives little rippers in third through sixth grades the opportunity to explore resorts throughout Colorado Ski Country USA. Pass holders do not have to be residents of Colorado! The passport costs $65 and includes 80 days on the slopes. Throughout the country (and even in Canada), there are many free passes to get kids out in the snow.
Small resorts offer big deals
Colorado Gems Card, a discount card for use at 10 smaller Colorado ski areas, gives pass holders a BOGO deal adult lift tickets and a 30% discount on single adult tickets. Also look for flash deals and get last-minute promotions available only to Colorado Gems Card holders and announced via the newsletter, on social media and on the Gems website.
Check other smaller resorts and find out what kind of discounts they might give. Some have free lift tickets with a hotel stay or other deals.
Save with teen or senior pricing
Age matters. Children’s ticket prices typically end at age 12, but some resorts additionally sell teen or student tickets and season passes. Similarly, seniors can save with discount tickets for ages 65+, 68+ or 70+. Some areas offer super-senior tickets as well.
Buy directly from the resort
If you plan to go just a few days, get three- or four-pack tickets. 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 lowered by 30% or more. But these tickets 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. Contact the resort you want to stay at and find out what they can offer.
Ski with a pass-holding buddy
Many ski areas encourage season pass-holders to bring friends by offering a discounted ticket price. Check out what parks have this deal and then plan accordingly.
Look for multi-area passes
Corporations that own several ski resorts often permit unlimited use at some or all. Examples include 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 19 of North America’s most famous resorts and additional days at substantial discounts. The pass is sold out for this season, but you can add your name to a list to be informed of deals when it’s available again.
The Epic Pass is also a great deal, although it is also sold out for this season. Choose from passes that cover one to seven days, and explore the world on skis. Friends and family get discounted tickets too, making it a great option for an inclusive vacation. In fact, if you’re set on skiing at a top Epic or Ikon destination for more than three days, it’s more economical to buy the pass than pay for individual tickets.
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