20 Money-Saving Ski Passes for More Fun at More Places
Skiing and snowboarding are notoriously expensive pastimes. Last season, the average price of an adult weekend lift ticket at the nation's resorts was $109. Frequent skiers and riders, however, can cut the cost significantly by purchasing a season pass to a favorite resort. Passes that offer access to many ski resorts statewide, nationally, or internationally, promise even more savings and can be a great deal for those who want more variety than a single resort can provide. When it comes to getting kids on slopes, not-for-profit industry associations in several states and Canada offer free or almost free programs for children in certain grades (proof is required). Most of these "passports" also offer coupons, discounts, and package deals to help reduce the overall cost of a family ski trip.
Related: 16 Ways to Hit the Slopes for Less This Winter
Colorado Ski Country USA's passport program gives fifth-graders three free days of skiing or riding at 20 participating mountains, for a total of 60 free days of skiing, even if they don't live in Colorado. The cost for sixth-graders is $105 (register by Nov. 30), but they can ski for 80 days (four days at each participating resort).
Ski Colorado offers the Rocky Mountain Super Pass+, which includes unlimited skiing and riding at Winter Park, Copper Mountain, and Eldora Mountain as well as limited days at Steamboat, Crested Butte, Alyeska Resort in Alaska, and five international destinations. The pass is $609, but a season pass to Winter Park alone costs $509 and a one-day lift ticket in January is about $120, so pass holders essentially ski for free on some of Colorado's best mountains after five visits to Winter Park. The pass includes retail, lodging, food, rental, and lesson discounts to boot.
The Idaho Ski Areas Association's 5th and 6th Grade Ski Free Passport Program gives each fifth-grader three free days at participating areas including Sun Valley and Lookout Pass. Sixth-graders get two free days at each location. Applicants must pay a $15 processing fee but do not need to be Idaho residents.
Lookout Pass, on the Idaho-Montana border, offers a discounted season pass with half-day rates at all Montana ski resorts and half off day lift tickets at Eaglecrest Ski Area in Juneau, Alaska, and Terry Peak Ski Area in Lead, South Dakota. The cost is $229 if purchased before Oct. 31. The pass pays for itself after six visits to Lookout Pass and comes with discounts and coupons like $5 off lift tickets at all Idaho ski resorts.
The WinterKids Passport is available for all fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-graders living in Maine. Free or reduced outdoor recreation (skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and dog sledding) is available at 50 locations across the state. A $25 processing fee applies.
The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association's "Cold Is Cool" Passport is available for the state's fourth- and fifth-graders. It includes three free lift tickets (or trail passes) at 30 of the state's ski areas, as well as additional slope and ski shop discounts. A $20 processing fee applies.
The Ski NH 4th & 5th Grade Snowsports Passport includes one free lift ticket or trail passes to beloved mountains like Bretton Woods and Loon Mountain. Coupons for adult tickets; discounts for lessons, rentals, food, and ski shops; and family package deals are also available. This passport is open to anyone, not just New Hampshire residents.
The Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association's 4th & 5th Grade Snowpass gives kids the opportunity to ski or ride at 20 resorts in Pennsylvania for free. That's more than 64 days of free skiing and riding at places like Elk Mountain, Camelback, and Shawnee. The pass is even available to those from out of state. Another cost cutter is the "First-Time Ski/Snowboard Program." For $49 you get a beginner ticket, a lesson, and rentals (minimum age varies by mountain).
The I Ski NY Free for Kids Passport program gives third- and fourth-graders three lift tickets (with an adult purchase) to each of more than 25 participating mountains in the state, including Gore Mountain, Greek Peak, Hunter, and Whiteface. A Learn to Ski or Ride Passport Card allows kids new to the sports to learn to ski or snowboard once at each participating mountain. No adult purchase is necessary, and the program is open to residents of all 50 states and Canada. There is a $26 processing fee for one card, $51 for both cards.
The Ski Utah Passport costs $35 (before Jan. 31) for fifth- and sixth-graders from any state. Fifth-graders can ski or ride three times at each of the 14 resorts in Utah, while sixth-graders get to ride once. The passport also includes a variety of discounts and deals at the mountains.
Ski the Northwest Rockies offers a 5th Grade Ski or Ride Free Passport program with no residency requirement. It provides three free days at each of the participating ski areas, which include 49 Degrees North Mountain Resort, Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park, Bluewood Ski Resort, and Loup Loup Ski Bowl, as well as Lookout Pass, Silver Mountain Resort, and Brundage Mountain Ski Resort in Idaho. The EZ Ski or Ride 1-2-3 program includes three lift tickets, three ski or snowboard rentals, and three lessons at participating mountains.
The M.A.X. Pass allows the holder to ski five days at each of 26 participating ski resorts throughout North America. That's a total of 130 days of skiing at places like Big Sky in Montana and Killington in Vermont for $649. A Youth Pass (ages 6 to 12) costs $349, while a Teen Pass (ages 13 to 17) is $449.
For $409, the Mountain Collective pass lets you ski at 14 mountains for two days each. It includes Alta and Snowbird in Utah, Stowe in Vermont, Telluride in Colorado, and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia. A companion pass for kids 12 and under is available for $99.
Available for a limited time, the $829 Epic Pass includes unlimited access to well-known resorts including Vail, Park City, Northstar, and Arapahoe Basin, as well as 30 European resorts. A pass for children ages 5 to 12 is available for $429. Even better: There are no blackout dates.