Winter is knocking on the door and for ski enthusiasts, that can only mean one thing – it’s time to embrace the shady slopes. But as excitement for ski season grows, so does concern about cost. Skiing is not cheap.
Here, we reveal the secrets to wringing every ounce of value (and fun) from your ski adventure while keeping your hard-earned cash in your pocket. From game-changing ski passes to some of the most affordable mountains across the country to smart money-saving hacks, we’ve got the scoop on how to ski affordably this year.
The best ski passes
The best ski passes—Epic, Ikon, Mountain Collective, Indy—are your golden ticket, each unlocking a unique array of resorts, experiences and discounts. But whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-timer, navigating the intricacies of these passes isn’t always easy. Here’s what you need to know.
The Epic Pass provides exclusive access to the Vail Resorts network. With 54 resorts across the US and Canada, including Vail Mountain, Breckenridge, Park City Mountain, Whistler Blackcomb, Stowe and many more, it’s a skier’s paradise. Vail Resorts has expanded its reach to partner resorts in Japan and Europe. Epic Pass has a lot. options, covering a variety of preferences and budgets. The full Epic Pass (currently $969 per adult, $494 per child) provides unlimited access to nearly every mountain in the network, with some all-star resorts like Telluride getting just seven days. There’s also a slightly more limited Epic Local Pass (currently $719 per adult, $585 per teen, $377 per child) and an Epic Day Pass (from $110 per adult, $58 per child) that can be customized from one to seven days and is a great gift. And all unlock 20% savings on food, lodging, and rentals—plus free friend cards and friend card discounts. What you need to know about the Epic Pass is that prices are cheapest when they come out in the spring, and prices go up as you get closer to the season. But it’s still the best value of the bunch. Epic sales end November 19th.
Ikon Pass— part of Alterra Mountain Company, a family of year-round resorts — gives access to 58 mountain destinations around the world, including Winter Park in Colorado, Mammoth Mountain in California, Stratton, Vermont and more. Of the Ikon tickets, the full Ikon Pass (currently $1,309 per adult) offers the most access and zero blackout dates, with unlimited access to 16 mountains and up to seven days at 41 other destinations. For those looking for a more budget-friendly option, the Ikon Base Pass (currently $979 per adult), with select blackout dates and access to 14 mountains and up to five days at 36 other destinations. There’s also a 4-day Ikon pass (currently $539 per adult) with blackout dates and access to 41 mountains. Like Epic, you’ll get the best value by purchasing the Ikon Pass early in the season. are for sale until sold out.
For those craving a different skiing adventure, enter the Mountain Collective Pass. Started by the Aspen Skiing Company in 2012, the Mountain Collective brings together 24 mountains in one pass, including destinations like Aspen Snowmass, Sugarbush, Snowbird, Alta and Jackson Hole. You get two days at each partner resort. The pass (currently $650 per adult, $530 per teen, $210 per child) has zero blackout dates and the option to get 50% off additional days. Passes are on sale until sold out.
A collection of independent mountains, the Indy Pass offers two days each at 180+ independent ski areas across the US, Canada, Japan and Europe plus 25% off the third day. The current Indy Pass has a waiting list for this upcoming season, but prices are $499 per adult. $249 per child).
Tips to maximize savings
Early Bird Discounts
Seize the moment and get your pass early. Early bird discounts are the golden ticket to significant savings. Be on the lookout for exclusive deals and special offers that come with planning ahead and securing your pass long before the snow starts to fall. This means it’s time to start thinking ahead for the 2024/25 ski season – passes will go on sale in the spring.
Grouping of accommodations and passes
Why settle for one when you can have both? Consider combining your ski pass with accommodations for a seamless and budget-friendly experience. Resorts often offer tempting deals that include a stay and pass, ensuring your winter getaway is both affordable and exciting.
Consider planning your ski trip mid-week. Weekends and holidays are usually peak times and prices for accommodation and lift tickets tend to be higher. Midweek skiing not only saves you money, but also provides a quieter and less crowded experience on the slopes.
Tool rentals and purchases
Consider renting your gear instead of buying, especially if you’re a casual skier. It’s a cost-effective solution that ensures you get top-of-the-line equipment without the hefty price tag. And a tip: You’ll usually get lower prices if you rent from an outfitter in town than in the mountains.
Season Pass for locals
If you live near a ski resort, check for season pass options designed specifically for locals. These passes can offer significant savings compared to daily lift tickets. Look out for early season sales on these passes.
Student and Military Discounts:
If you are a student or member of the military, ask about special discounts. Many resorts offer discounted rates for students and some provide military discounts as a way of showing appreciation for their service.
Bring your own food
Food at the ski resort can be expensive. Save money by bringing your own snacks and lunch. Packing a cooler with sandwiches, fruit and other snacks can help you avoid high-priced meals on the mountain.
If you’re flexible with your schedule, consider skiing during the early or late season. Resorts often offer discounted rates during these periods where snow conditions can be slightly less predictable but still enjoyable.
Ski resorts at affordable prices all over the country
Here are some smaller, more affordable ski mountains around the county.
Snowbasin Resort – Utah
A jewel in the Wasatch Mountains, Snowbasin Resort is known for its world-class facilities and immaculately groomed slopes, combining affordability with premium amenities. Passage: Epic Pass.
Homewood Mountain Resort – California
Overlooking the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe, Homewood Mountain Resort is a scenic and affordable winter getaway with spectacular lake views and varied terrain that appeals to skiers and riders of all skill levels. Passage: Ikon Pass.
Taos Ski Valley – New Mexico
Tucked away in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos Ski Valley is known for its challenging terrain and vibrant cultural atmosphere, attracting skiers and snowboarders looking for a unique and affordable mountain experience. Passage: Mountain Collective
Mad River Glen – Vermont
Nestled in the scenic Green Mountains of Vermont, Mad River Glen is known for its commitment to maintaining the classic atmosphere of skiing – an authentic experience with challenging trails and a welcoming community atmosphere. Passage: no one
Bridger Ball – Montana
With its vast terrain and breathtaking views, Bridger Bowl in Montana is an affordable paradise for avid skiers. The different slopes cater for different skill levels and the absence of a significant resort crowd adds to its appeal. Passage: no one
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