8 Ways to Save Money on Lift Tickets

What are the best ways to save money on lift tickets? Every year when the days get shorter and snow blankets the earth, there is an anxious excitement as the ski resorts open the trails. In all of your vitality and haste to get to the mountain, it’s understandable if you forget your wife, husband, or even gear; but there is one thing you do not want to arrive without your lift tickets.

Purchase options for lift tickets at the window is an option, but lack of availability and cost can be frustrating. On average, a single one-day lift ticket can run around $200 or more when purchased on the day you ski. For many people, especially multiple-person families, this cost is not feasible. Don’t let window prices stymie your ski season. We have compiled a list of the eight best ways to save money on lift tickets.

A skier buys a lift ticket at Stowe Vermont.
Here’s what you need to know about saving money on lift tickets at North American ski resorts.

1. Your Dates Matter

Timing is everything. Like booking a flight, the days you book your ski trip, purchase your lift tickets, and set all your final plans, make a massive difference in cost. This includes the day, month, time of year you plan to go, and the time you make your purchases. Prices rise with the availability of guests. Around the holidays, many people have more flexibility around work schedules, and kids are out of school. This coincides with the average resort opening. Planning a trip between or after the holidays will help you save money on lift tickets. Once the holidays are over, there is only one other significant time to watch for price spikes, and that is around spring break. Prices are hard to beat late into the season after spring break.

Just because it’s spring does not mean the skiing is terrible. Resorts like Copper Mountain and A-Basin reach record elevations enabling them to excel far into spring, sometimes even July.

2. Be Meticulous, But Flexible

For those traveling from out of state, you will likely have at least a general itinerary (arrival date, where you’re staying, departure date, check-in/out times, etc.), which is beneficial. A clear day count helps find discounts and deals. The cost between a single day and five days is massive. If you only plan to ski for three of the five days you are there, paying for an additional two days is a lot of lost cash. When planning your trip, take time to do so, and make a spreadsheet if it helps.

There is a lot of information, Colorado alone has over 25 resorts to choose from, and each has its deals or discounts. If the range of dates can be vague, search for special offers for mid-week stays or after big holidays. Flexibility with where you ski can significantly affect how much or little you pay. Big-name resorts like Vail or Breckenridge are going to cost significantly more than smaller places such as Eldora or Loveland.

3. Purchase Lift Tickets In Advance

If there is only one thing you can do (there’s not) to save money on lift tickets, no matter who you ask or where you go, always purchase your lift tickets in advance. As stated previously, ticket costs at the window are going to hurt. Whether you have a specific resort in mind or looking into different options, it is always beneficial to determine how far in advance each recommends purchasing tickets. Three to seven days is typically the closest to the trip you want to buy them. Don’t hesitate to call and ask; they may even direct you to additional discounts.

4. Find Kids Ski Free Programs

Most resorts allow kids to ski for free all season if you have a child 4 years old and under. If you have kids as old as twelve and can be flexible with dates, many resorts have designated weeks during each season that allows them to ski for free. The Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack gives kids 20 free skiing days in kindergarten through fifth grade. Once registered, kids have four days of skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Crested Butte. An important note about Epic SchoolKids is this program registration is time-sensitive. Although not free, there are many deals and packages through resorts with a significant price reductions for children and newbies.

A season pass can save you money. At most resorts, by the time you’ve paid for your fourth day, the cost has exceeded that of a season pass.

5. Fly Alaska, Ski Free

Eight resorts in North America have partnered with Alaska Airlines as a part of the airline’s Fly Alaska, Ski Free campaign. If you are, by chance flying Alaska Airlines and staying at one of these resorts, your boarding pass gains you access to a complimentary one-day lift ticket. Some resorts only offer the key for the day you arrive or depart, and others offer it during any of the days you visit. It is vital to contact where you are staying and verify the details.

6. Season Pass Perks

Season passes, such as Epic or Ikon, are notorious for their many additional benefits, especially the friends and family discounts on lift tickets. Depending on the pass, holders can receive up to 25 percent off up to 10 lift tickets each. For large groups, this is a superb way to save money. If you don’t know someone with a season pass, purchasing one yourself might be the best option!

7. Smaller Resorts, Bigger Savings

Getting the most out of a ski trip does not require being at big-name, leading-size resorts. Many smaller-scale destinations pack the same excitement, beauty, and challenges on their slopes. What most folks find they enjoy the most is fewer crowds, which means no lines. The Colorado Ski Country USA Gems Card is a nifty savings option if you are willing to stick with a select number of smaller resorts such as A-Basin, Cooper, Echo Mountain, Granby Ranch, Powderhorn, and more. The Gems Card offers you the opportunity to get lift tickets at a two-for-one deal, or two tickets at 30 percent off, or choose from one of each option. The only downside is there are blackout dates.

8. Ski For More Than Four Days

Some of you plan to ski for more than four days or descend as many mountains as possible this season. If this is the case, purchasing a season pass will be the most cost-effective route. At most resorts, the cost has far exceeded that of a season pass by the time you’ve paid for your fourth day with a lift ticket. Passes such as Epic and Ikon offer access to resorts across the United States, Canada, and Europe – the slope options are endless.

Other Tips & Tricks to Save Money

Here are a few additional money-saving ideas for skiers:

  • Look for lift tickets that you can use at more than one resort.
  • Bundles and packages can save you big bucks.
  • Ask about military, college, and senior discounts when making reservations and purchases.
  • Be careful who you purchase lift tickets from online. Go through secure websites, like Skier Deals.