Cheap Ski Destinations
Cheap Ski Destinations in 2014
Finding a cheap ski destination is tricky. Ski resorts often charge $100 for an adult lift ticket, and that's just for the daytime activity. Then there's the cost of transportation, lodging, local travel, dining, and equipment rental. We identified 10 locations where the skiing is good and cheap. Most ski areas are found in the western and northeastern regions of the country. The west is known for high-quality slopes and snow while the northeast offers smaller mountains and less reliable snow conditions.
Photo by flickr.com/skimaine
Experts we spoke with stressed that a few minutes of online research can uncover leads to cheap ski destinations. Liftopia.com is a clearinghouse for deals on lift tickets, for example. Sites like Ski.com and SnoPak.com showcase package deals. And TheSkiLift.org is dedicated to ride-sharing arrangements and social networking for skiers and snowboarders.
Saddleback (Maine). Saddleback Mountain rises 4,120 feet and is naturally divided into terrains that offer different levels of difficulty -- and some of the best slopes for beginners in New England. The Ski and Ride School sets a maximum ratio of five students to every instructor.
Saddleback is among the highest ski mountains in the area but prices are low. An adult lift ticket costs $49 Sunday through Friday and $59 on Saturday.
The Ski & Stay package includes lodging and lift tickets, with daily mid-week rates of $69 a person; a minimum two-night stay is required.
Cranmore Mountain (New Hampshire). Cranmore Mountain is particularly family-friendly given its Alberg Children's Learning Center, adventure park, and "mountain coaster."
It is also one of the cheapest ski destinations. A daily adult lift ticket costs $63 and a two-day ticket is $105; buying two-day tickets online earns a discount.
Ski & Stay packages at local inns and motels include at least one lift ticket and some offer free breakfast.
Sugarloaf (Maine). Visit Sugarloaf and you might feel as though you're on top of the world. From the 4,237-foot summit you'll take in views of New Hampshire, Vermont, Canada, and Maine's Mount Katahdin.
You also can enjoy the slopes at very reasonable prices. A one-day adult lift ticket at this cheap ski destination goes for $83, with savings up to 49 percent for advance, online purchases.
Ski & Stay prices vary by date; nightly per person rates over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend start at $115 and include a 90-minute ski/snowboard clinic for adults.
Homewood Mountain (California). Nestled on the west shore of Lake Tahoe is Homewood Mountain, with 1,260 acres, 64 runs, and claims to environmentally friendly practices.
Adult lift tickets go for a daily rate of $69, with higher fees charged for peak dates and lower rates for online purchases. A 3-pack, good any day for the entire season, costs a total of $177. Members of the military on active duty qualify for free non-holiday lift tickets and pay half price for holiday skiing. Military family members are offered a 50 percent discount when tagging along with their service member.
Photo by flickr.com/feen
Mt. Bachelor (Oregon). Mt. Bachelor's claim to fame: The highest skiable elevation in the Pacific Northwest. Most ski resorts close shop in April but Mt. Bachelor remains open well into May.
The daily price for adult lift tickets is $79, with a $12 discount offered for arrivals between noon and 4pm. Children age 5 and under ski for free and beginners qualify for a free lift ticket to the gentlest slopes.
This cheap ski destination offers additional deals for multi-day tickets bought in advance and when booking a minimum of two nights lodging with one of its partners.
Brighton (Utah). Brighton is located 35 miles southeast of Salt Lake City and encompasses four "terrain parks" that cater to every level, from beginner to expert.
You can ski the slopes at this cheap resort for $68 a day (until 4pm), but spend just $36 for nighttime skiing (4pm-9pm). Adult beginners, children, and seniors qualify for discounts.
On-mountain lodging starts at $129 a night and includes continental breakfast. Additional lodging options are widely available in the area.
Pebble Creek (Idaho). Pebble Creek is an alpine ski area in southeastern Idaho and part of the Caribou National Forest. Relatively unknown, it is miles from nowhere -- a 2.5-hour drive from Salt Lake City and 3.5 hours from Boise.
This budget ski destination is geared toward experienced skiers. More than half of its terrain is rated for advanced skiers and just a small fraction is rated for beginners. Pebble Creek also offers extremely cheap lift tickets: $40 for adults. Weekday specials trim that rate by about one-third.
Photo by flickr.com/jtbradford
Stay the night at one of the participating hotels in Lava Hot Springs to earn a two-for-one deal on lift tickets.
Santa Fe (New Mexico). The Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Santa Fe, with a base elevation of 10,350 feet, are among the highest ski destinations in the continental U.S. The Ski Santa Fe area offers 77 trails running over 660 acres and options for skiers at different levels.
Adults pay $69 for a daily lift ticket or $36 for the beginner lift (available to young and old alike). Active and retired service members merit a $15 discount. Multi-day passes trim the daily rate.
Nightly rates for lodging at nearby partner facilities start at $35; package deals are also offered.
Turner Mountain (Montana). Turner Mountain, located on the Kootenai National Forest in northwest Montana may be a cheap option but probably not the best for novices. Nearly two-thirds of the trails are appropriate for advanced skiers (black diamond) and just one-tenth is suitable for beginners.
Whichever level you're at, an adult lift ticket costs $37. Lower rates apply for children (age 6 and under ski for free), seniors, college students, and active duty military.
Reasonably priced lodging is available in nearby Libby.
Lakeside (Montana). Blacktail Mountain is nicknamed the "upside down hill" because you go from top to bottom before settling onto a lift. The terrain makes this cheap ski destination most appropriate for skiers with some experience; 70 percent of the slopes are rated intermediate and 15 percent as expert.
Adults pay just $38 for a day of skiing while children up to age 7 can ski for free; a freebie is also offered on your birthday. A Blacktail Mountain tradition, "Fifth For Free," gives all fifth graders a free day pass or, for a $10 processing fee, a season pass.