Ski season has just begun and with many activities shutting down 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 over the weekend in in the forecast and cold weathers to blow snow, most mountains should be up and running soon. The West Coast, on the other hand, had a great jump on the season and is showing us that skiing can be done safely.
My family is a ski family and we are truly looking forward to skiing this winter — despite some travel restrictions that we will have to figure out. We bought a weekday pass to a local mountain about 45 minutes away — the perks of hybrid learning — an will definitely figure out some Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire skiing as well. Unfortunately though, a trip out west is not in the cards for us this winter.
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 — although they are going to be harder to find than last year. Depending on your child’s age or the flight you take, you might even be able to ski for free.
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 2020/2021 season, such as the Epic Pass , but the Ikon Pass and Mountain Collective Pass are still available. (Note: The Ikon Pass is only available through Dec. 10, 2020).
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. Although, this year might be a very different ski season for you than most years. 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
Many mountains were reserving early season days to just season pass holders, but must mountains have now opened up their lift ticket purchases for everyone. However, some resorts will only sell lift tickets a few weeks out at a time, due to the unknown of the season.
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.
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 Alta, Brighton, Snowbasin, Snowbird and Solitude. A great ski deal for those skiing in Utah.
REI typically offers discounted lift tickets both online and in-store. Some resorts include: Killington, Big Bear, Hunter Mountain, Mammoth, Mount Snow, Sugarbush, Stratton, Sierra at Tahoe, Wachusett, Pats Peak, Waterville Valley, Bretton Woods, Whiteface, Attitash, Snowbird, Loveland, Solitude and more. With that being said, they are not yet for sale this year. Tip: They do sell out.
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 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. 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 are suspended this year, but hopefully they will be back up and running next year.
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.
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. Unfortunately, some programs are not running this year or are limited to just weekday skiing. Again, a good thing to keep in mind for next year.
Additionally, some resorts are offering free kids seasons passes with the purchase of an adult season pass.
Show your airline ticket to the resort
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. Although ski season will look quite different this year, there are still many ways to enjoy the mountains and grab a lift ticket discount as well.
What is your winter 2020 / 2021 ski plan?