As the prices of skiing and snowboarding keep rising like snowbanks in February, finding cheap lift tickets may seem challenging. However, with careful planning, time, and imagination, you can find tickets that won't require a second mortgage.
Liftopia is easy to use and offers deals for 60 percent and more off daily prices. You select by region, date, and number of days you expect to ski. There is information about the ski center, how many tickets are available at the special price, as well as detailed descriptions on how the deal works (limited hours, or multi-mountain discounts). Whether the ski center is tiny or several mountains, you can find it at Liftopia. For example, a one-day ticket in March midweek at Shanty Creek Resort MI was $16; the same date had tickets that were discounted up to 56 percent at Killington, VT. Just remember to spend time searching, and book when you see it. The good deals go fast.
Some states have a terrific program: fill up your car or truck and get free lift tickets on a buy one, get one (BOGO) deal from Ski Free Deals. Purchase at least 10 gallons of gasoline at a participating retailer in Colorado or Wyoming, get a voucher, have it signed, and turn it in when buying your tickets. The savings can be worth it: at Copper Mountain, CO, two adults would ski for $225 per day instead of $300. You have to watch out for blackout days at each ski center, the tickets have to be purchased at the ski center's ticket window, and both of you have to be at the window.
Get Ski Tickets
Get Ski Tickets lets you locate discounted tickets, packages, and season passes. It includes both the US and Canada and has updated information about conditions, resorts, and other facts needed to book a perfect ski or snowboard vacation. Deals at Sun Valley, ID for example save skiers 20 percent on multiple day passes (about $30).
Learn to Ski and Snowboard
This is a great resource for special deals and events. Visit Learn to Ski and Snowboard's Deals page for regularly updated savings and specials at hundreds of resorts. Lift ticket, rentals, and lessons are bundled into great deals starting around $50 (less than half of what you would normally pay at most ski mountains). Book ahead and pay attention to when you have to be on the mountain for your lessons. At Heavenly in Lake Tahoe, Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month in January, two adult lessons were offered for the price of $210, which included lift tickets and lessons for two days.
Small Ski Areas Can Be Beautiful...and Cheap
"Cheap" is relative: you may think $100 is too much for a lift ticket, and someone else won't pay above $50...or under $400. But for the lower end of the ski ticket range, consider the smaller ski areas, which are often tucked within driving distance of the goliaths. Smaller, less commercial ski resorts often provide more personalized attention during classes, and they are not overwhelming for beginning skiers. Many of the smaller ski areas are geared toward families and offer family-friendly pricing. Check with the tourism departments in each state to locate smaller ski centers and don't forget to ask them if they know of any upcoming special offers for lift tickets or packages.
Smuggler's Notch, VT
Smuggler's Notch in Vermont has season passes, special events, and "bash badges," which are great if you ski a lot but not every weekend. Buy a badge for one low price (around $100 if you purchase in September) and then pay only $25 for lift tickets. Since an average adult lift ticket is $72, your savings will be substantial with a bash badge.
Belleayre Ski Center, NY
Belleayre Ski Center in New York's Catskill Mountains offers discounts for midweek, military, and Wednesdays: turn in a Coke product emblem and get a lift ticket for $32.
Echo Mountain Park, CO
Echo Mountain Park in Colorado caters to families and bills itself as the closest skiing area to Denver. Kids under 5 ski free, and there are discounts for children ($39), seniors ($44), and adults $49).
Brighton in Utah has lots of snowboarding terrain parks, as well as night skiing, ticket discounts (as low as $34 for night passes), and print-your-own gift cards for friends and family.
Tips for Cheap Lift Tickets
Timing is everything when it comes to finding cheap lift tickets. Here are some tips for your search:
- Holiday weekends tend to have the highest lift (and lodging) prices. However, booking ahead might get you some discounts. Non-holiday weekends are best. For example, at Belleayre Ski Center, non-holiday weekend adult tickets are $54, holiday weekends $66, while midweek promotions can go as low as $32.
- Half-day tickets may sound good but are generally no bargain: you can still pay nearly 90 percent of the ticket cost. For example at Snowbird, the all day lift ticket was $106 and the half day, $92.
- Look for frequent skier cards. At Gore Mountain, the frequent skier program offers free visits, window discounts, and friend discounts. In early 2017, one-day tickets for adults were $38 Monday to Friday and non-holidays, $29 for seniors ages 65-69, and $20 for skiers 70+.
- You will get better discounts the earlier you purchase tickets. Buying same day at the ski center window will usually cost you the full amount. Buying online and printing e-tickets will save you money.
- Ask for senior or military discounts, which can be generous, depending on your age, service, and the ski center.
- If you ski a lot, check out the spring ticket packages. In Vermont, spring passes can last well into June, and some offer US skiers opportunities to ski and snowboard in Canada. The passes begin under $200 and are for unlimited use at some sites.
- Working part time or volunteering at a ski center may get you discounted or free tickets. Check with your favorite mountain to see what they offer in this area.
- Call, call, and call again. Get into the habit of checking websites, or calling the ski centers for last minute or under the radar deals. Ask about state citizen discounts, mid-week specials, and out of town (or out of country) guest discounts.
Cheap Fun in the Snow
Don't let the high price of lift tickets ruin your love of winter sports. If you follow these strategies and do your homework, you'll have a great time on the slopes with money left over for dinner.