9 Ways to Ski for Less this Winter: Cheap or Free Lift Tickets

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Ski season has just begun and with many activities starting to shut down again this winter, skiing  — in my opinion — is one of the best outside socially distanced activities you are going to find. The East Coast has had a slow start, but with some snow in the forecast and cold weathers to blow snow, most mountains should be better equipped soon. The West Coast, while might have had a slow start, is now doing great with a few snow storms in December.

My family is a ski family and we are truly looking forward to skiing every weekend this winter. We ended up buying the EPIC pass this winter and signed our kids up for a development program at a Vail Resorts mountain about an hour away. On top of that, we will also visit some other Vail Resorts mountains and keep our fingers crossed that lift lines are not out of control.

Now, even though this is an awesome winter activity for families — especially this year — the cost can be a big hurdle for many.

After paying for all the gear and a hotel near the mountain, you still have to pay for that ridiculously expensive lift ticket. These days, at some of the more fancy and popular mountains, you can easily be looking at spending around $200/day for a lift ticket. For us on the Northeast, the price is definitely less, but it still adds up. That is where finding as many ski deals as possible comes into play. Depending on your child’s age or the flight you take, you might even be able to ski for free.

Lift ticket deals is a great way to ski for less this winter.
Trip to Park City a few weeks ago. The snow was pretty epic.

9 Ski Lift Ticket Discounts

Purchase a season pass to save money over individual lift tickets

If you are traveling out west to ski, purchasing a season pass can possibly save your family a ton of money. Unfortunately though, some of the season pass options have stopped selling passes for the 2021/2022 season, such as the Epic Pass, Ikon Pass and Mountain Collective Pass, but the Indy Pass is still available and truly one of the best deals if you can make the mountains work.

You’ll even find that some mountains will extend a complimentary kids season pass with the purchase of an adult season pass. In the Northeast, you’ll find this at Waterville Valley and Pico Mountain.

Even if you are too late to buy a pass, keep track of your total lift ticket costs throughout the season to see if buying a pass next year makes sense. Typically, season passes start selling for the following season in March or April and many times include the rest of the current season for free. We will see if that trend continues this year.

For the most part, these passes include the most number of ski resorts in a single purchase. There are different variations of each pass so make sure to get the one that works best with your needs.

If you will be skiing at the same mountain for the bulk of the winter or at a family of mountains in the same area, many times you can get mountain specific passes or a pass that covers a group of mountains. Just call the resort to find out your best ski deal option.

Lock in your discounted lift ticket prices today to get the best ski deal

If you know of an upcoming ski vacation, you can book in advance directly with the mountain and get some significantly lower daily prices. Many mountains offer a limited number of extremely discounted lift tickets available. The one catch with this ski deal is that you are locking in your ski dates now and if the weather doesn’t cooperate with you, you might be stuck.

Use Liftopia.com for last minute ski deals

The third-party website Liftopia.com is typically a great way to purchase lift tickets at a significant discount. This year, however, many resorts are not partnering with third-party sites to sell tickets in advance at a discount — due to capacity control restrictions and just the ease of how lift tickets have to be purchased.

Although, if your local resort is on the site, typically, the earlier you buy, the better discount you’ll receive. These are date specific tickets and you can many times buy tickets for up to 8 days. Sometimes they also give you the opportunity to purchase packages including ski gear and lessons. Every mountain offers different discounts, but it is absolutely worth checking it out. Unfortunately though, the tickets are non-refundable.

Shop at Costco for discount lift tickets

Costco is a great place to get many items at a discount, including ski lift tickets — in normal years. Typically, Costco sells lift tickets seasonally for local mountains in the area — at an incredible discount. And usually, select resorts are available on line — but not this year, yet. I also have yet to see local mountain lift tickets available at my nearby Costco.

Now, if you are available to purchase lift ticket at Costco — fingers crossed they sell them at some point this winter — the best part about this purchase is that if you end up not using them, you can many times return them back to the store after the season is over.

Related: Ski for less this winter with discounted lift tickets at Costco

costco lift ticket
Lift ticket deals available at my local Costco

Shop at sporting equipment stores and local ski shops

Many local ski shops (and sometimes even grocery stores) offer discounted lift tickets. With that being said, this is a year where finding discounted lift tickets will be more challenging, so there is a chance your typical go-to stop will not be selling them this year.

For example, if you are flying into Salt Lake City, stop at Canyon Sports ski shop first before heading to the mountains. They typically offer discounted lift tickets to Brighton and Solitude. A great ski deal for those skiing in Utah.

Ski season is here!

REI typically offers discounted lift tickets both online and in-store. Some resorts include: Killington, Pats Peak, Stratton, Waterville Valley, Solitude, Brighton, Sugarbush, Homewood and more. Tip: They do sell out and sometimes there’s more available in your local store then what you see online.

Use your Working Advantage discounts

If you work for a large corporation, check with your HR department to see if they have a partnership with Working Advantage. Working Advantage offers many discounts for sporting events, theme parks, movie tickets, concerts and best of all — ski resorts.

My family has been using Working Advantage for years to purchase discounted lift tickets and it has been amazing. Lift tickets are a fixed price and can usually be purchased the same day you are skiing. You’ll just get your lift ticket voucher in your email within moments of making the purchase. They are typically not for a specific date, so if you end up not skiing, you can always use them at another time. Prices are extremely good and there are many participating resorts. In past years, I’ll even occasionally receive codes from Working Advantage as well. Earlier in the year you can even purchase discounted IKON passes through Working Advantage.

Note: More resorts are being added every day, so keep on checking back.

Tip: Even if you do not have access to Working Advantage, see if a friend or family member does. Tickets can be purchased for anyone.

Purchase a seasonal rental for your kids

Many ski shops partner with mountains to allow you to ski for free. With just a seasonal rental, you could receive a free lift ticket or free season pass.

Unfortunately though, some partnerships severed last year and still aren’t back up and running.

For example, in normal years, if you live in New England and purchase a seasonal rental for your child’s skis or snowboard equipment, you’ll receive a free seasons pass to Bretton Woods mountain. This is a great way for your kids to ski for free all winter at a great family-friendly mountain — something to keep in mind for next year.

Ski for free with seasonal rental

Take advantage of kids ski free programs

While some mountains offer free skiing to kids 5 years and younger (give or take), there are many opportunities for your kids to ski for free (or cheaper) as they get older. For example, Keystone offers kids ski free if you stay at the mountain, which even includes using points at the Hyatt Place Keystone.

Additionally, some resorts are offering free kids seasons passes with the purchase of an adult season pass.

Show your airline ticket to the resort

If you are flying in for a ski vacation, many resorts out west will give you a free day of skiing simply by showing your boarding pass.

You can check out Alaska Airlines Ski Free site to see all of the participating resorts.


Despite the expensive cost of lift tickets, there are many ways to get a great discount. What is your winter 2021 / 2022 ski plan?

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3 years ago

We ski Sundance…shorter season since it’s mid-mountain but it’s so convenient for us. Unlimited passes are cheap until Oct 31, definitely a good deal for us. And some years, like last year, found Snowbird open into June, we skiied on June 1 last season! My teenager, though, is begging to ski some extreme terrain at Jackson Hole…

2 years ago

Love this post!
I have also written a similar article related to ski.

1 year ago

And NEVER, EVER, EVER pay walkup window prices. ALWAYS buy in advance.


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