There are numerous ways to purchase discount ski lift tickets in Colorado. Some are well known. Others are only known by Colorado locals. In general, a contrarian approach to purchasing Colorado lift tickets will get you the best bargains.
Find the Trail Less Traveled
When people talk about Colorado ski resorts, they usually think of Aspen, Vail, Keystone, Breckenridge, Steamboat and Copper Mountain. Granted, these are world-class ski resorts. However, their world-class status makes them the most expensive resorts in Colorado.
Colorado's smaller ski areas encompass the true soul of Colorado skiing. Many were built and developed by members of the 10th Mountain Division, who trained at Camp Hale near Vail. If you don't fall in love with their old-world charm, you will certainly appreciate their respect for your wallet. Parking is free. Even better, parking is within walking distance of the lifts.
Fall in Love with Loveland
Loveland is located on I70, directly before you pass through the Eisenhower Tunnel. If you purchase a Loveland Pass card for $42 to $53, you will be entitled to substantial discounts on your lift tickets. The average lift ticket price for Loveland pass card holders is $45. Compare that to $95 at most Colorado resorts.
Furthermore, your fifth visit to Loveland is free with the pass card. The card also gets you discounts at the cafeteria, where food is already less expensive than the food at Colorado's mega-resorts. If you are just learning the sport, consider signing up for three of Loveland's beginner packages. Complete all three, and you'll get a free season pass.
Ski Cooper is located in historic Leadville, Colorado. It was once the training grounds for the 10th Mountain Division. Today, it's a popular family ski area that boasts inexpensive lift tickets. In 2009, full-day lift tickets cost $42 for a full-day and $31 for a half-day.
Become a Mountain Ambassador
The mountain ambassador program is Colorado's best kept secret. If you can spare 14 days per season, you get a free season pass as well as occasional discounts for your friends and family. Ski and snowboard enthusiasts over age 45 should consider becoming guides for the Copper Mountain Over the Hill Gang. Like the ambassador program, it requires a 14-day per season commitment and occasional discounts are available for friends and family.
You can eat at and enjoy discount rates at The Edge, which is Copper's employee cafeteria. If space is available, you and a friend can stay at the dormitory style Edge lodging. Rates are extremely affordable. While the Over the Hill Gang may be older, many have superb skiing or riding skills. As such, guides must have advanced skills. For information, visit the Over the Hill Gang website.
Discount Ski Lift Tickets in Colorado Supermarkets
Every season, you can find discount ski lift tickets in Colorado supermarkets. You can check out City Market in Dillon and Breckenridge, as well as Safeway in Frisco. However, here's an insider's secret. These deals are rarely impressive, simply because the store owners know that most of the locals have purchased season passes. If time permits, purchase your discount lift tickets at a store in Denver. You can occasionally get discount lift tickets at gear stores, gas stations and lodging venues.
Befriend an Employee or Season Pass Holder
Ski resort employees, as well as ski resort season pass holders sometimes receive discounted or even free lift tickets. It can't hurt to ask. If you don't know anyone who has a season pass, consider joining a ski message forum. However, do not approach an unknown employee or season pass holder on the mountain. This is illegal.
Warren Miller Saves the Day
Every year, when a new Warren Miller film comes out, free lift tickets are given away at the performance. The dates and locations are usually announced in Ski or Skiing magazine.