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


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Although we are already near the end of January, there are many more months for skiing this winter. The East Coast has definitely been hurting, but out West is quite amazing right now. My family has already been a bunch this winter and my 6 and 3 year old are absolutely love it. Although an awesome winter activity for families, 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.

For this winter, my family took the approach of purchasing a season pass as it was cheaper for us overall. Since we live in New England and Vail Resorts acquired the Peak Pass mountains, we went the Epic Pass route. We ski a lot and the numbers show us that it should save us money. For us, it was the best ski deal out there. For those that aren’t skiing every weekend, you can still find some great ski lift ticket discounts. There are even some opportunities 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, many of the season pass options have stopped selling passes for the 2019/2020 season, such as the Epic Pass and the Ikon Pass. The Mountain Collective Pass, however, is still available.

Even if you are too late to buy a pass, this is a good time to keep track of your total lift ticket costs 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.

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.

Purchase a seasons pass to get great ski deals.
Keep track of your skiing this year to see if purchasing a season pass makes sense for next year.

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 ridiculously low 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.

Discounted lift tickets by booking early
Skiing for as low as $17 at Attitash Mountain in New Hampshire!

Use Liftopia.com for last minute ski deals

The third-party website Liftopia.com is a great way to purchase lift tickets at a significant discount. With this 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. 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.

Discounted lift tickets at liftopia.com
Pay just $49 to ski at Arapahoe Basin

Shop at Costco for discount lift tickets

Costco is a great place to get many items at a discount, including ski lift tickets. Seasonally, Costco sells lift tickets typically for local mountains in the area — at an incredible discount. The best part about purchasing lift tickets at Costco is that if you end up not using them, you can many times return them back to the store after the season is over. Tip: Select resorts are available online, while others are available in-store only.

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. 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.

Ski season is almost here!

REI also 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. 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. Occasionally, I even receive extra coupon codes from Working Advantage as well.

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. For example, in New England, if you purchase a seasonal rental for your child’s skis or snowboard equipment, you’ll receive a free seasons pass to Bretton Woods mountain. (Although there is a processing charge). This is a great way for your kids to ski for free all winter at a great family-friendly mountain. Unfortunately though, you might be a little late to the season for this option, but it is always something to consider 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. Unfortunately, enrollment has already ended for some of these programs, but it is a good thing to keep in mind for next year.

Epic School Kids Colorado 

For kids between Kindergarten and 5th grade, you can receive four days of skiing at the following mountains: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Crested Butte. This gives you a total of 20 days on the mountain, for free! Fortunately you do not need to be a Colorado resident, but you must enroll in person at a Front Range Epic Mountain Gear Store. Note: Enrollment ended on Oct. 13, 2019

Epic School Kids Utah

If you are a Utah resident and have a child who is in Kindergarten through 5th grade, you can receive five days of skiing at Park City. Note: Enrollment ended Oct. 13, 2019.

Epic School Kids Whistler Blackcomb

If you are a Canadian or Washington State resident and have a child who is in Kindergarten through 5th grade, you can receive five days of skiing at Whistler Blackcomb. Note: Enrollment ended Oct. 13, 2019.

Colorado 5th & 6th Grade Passport

5th graders receive three days of skiing or riding at 22 different mountains — for free. That means 66 days of free skiing throughout the winter. 6th graders receive. Now, if you have a 6th grader, for $110, you’ll receive four days of skiing or riding at the same 22 different mountains. That means 88 days of free skiing, which is great. There is no residency requirement and you can apply online.

kids ski free
Ski at an amazing discount in Colorado this winter — if you are in 5th or 6th grade.
Utah 5th & 6th Grade Passport

5th graders will receive up to three tickets at each participating resort — which gives you up to 45 days of skiing. 6th graders will receive just one ticket at each participating resort — 15 days of skiing. Both programs cost $45. Unlike the Colorado ski pass, this is just for Utah residents.

Vermont 5th Grade Passport

For a $20 processing fee, if you have a 5th grader, you can get up to 88 days of skiing. Unfortunately though, this is limited to just Vermont residents.

New Hampshire 4th and 5th Grade Snowsports Passport

With this program, your 4th or 5th grader will receive one free lift ticket to 31 different mountains throughout New Hampshire. The cost is just $30 and there is no residency restriction.

Ski PA 4th and 5th Grade Snowpass Program

All 4th and 5th graders can ski or ride at participating ski mountains in Pennsylvania. You’ll receive three lift tickets to each mountain, which means 63 days of skiing. This is open too all students (no residency restriction), although it will cost you a $35 processing fee.

Ski New York Free For Kids

3rd and 4th graders receive three free lift tickets to each participating mountain throughout New York. With 27 participating resorts, that means you can receive up to 81 days of skiing for the winter season. With this program, your child will only receive a free lift ticket with the purchase of an adult lift ticket (or if the adult has a season pass). Alternatively, your child can receive one free beginner lift ticket, one beginner lesson and rental at each participating ski area without the purchase of an adult ticket. Both programs are open to any child from any state or country.

Michigan’s MSIA Cold is Cool

All 4th and 5th graders can ski for free in Michigan. You’ll receive up to three lift tickets at 30 different participating ski resorts. There is a $20 charge.

Ski Idaho 5th & 6th Grade Peak Passport

For those who live in Idaho, 5th graders will receive three free days and 6th graders will receive two free days at each resort. There are 17 participating locations so that means 34 or 51 days of skiing. The cost is just $18.

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.

Related: 13 Resorts Where You Can Ski for Free with Your Alaska Airline Boarding Pass

Discounted lift tickets with flying
Alaska has a huge partnership with the mountains for free skiing.

For example, if you are this winter to Steamboat, you’ll receive a free night skiing lift ticket the day you arrive. Or, if you are flying in on Tuesday or Wednesday when there is no night skiing, you’ll receive a ticket to ski for free Thursday night. Additionally, if you are flying Alaska Airlines home, you’ll get a free day of skiing on your departure date.

Overall…

Despite the expensive cost of lift tickets, there are many ways to get a great discount. Even though ski season has already started, you are definitely not too late. Or, take this opportunity to figure out your needs for next year to make sure you are ahead of the game.

What is your winter 2019 / 2020 ski plan?

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Robert
Robert
8 months 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…

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