6 Affordable Places to Ski


There's a lot of white stuff out there this year, but the lift ticket prices at popular resorts, like Sierra's Heavenly or Colorado's Vail, are steeper than the slopes. Snow lovers on a budget, don't despair. Especially for beginners, there are plenty of ski and snowboard destinations where you can have lots of fun without the sticker shock.

What's the difference between budget resorts and premium ones? One difference is elevation. Resorts on lower peaks charge less, because sometimes they miss out on snow that higher points get. Another factor is size. If you're an animal out there and want to attack 25 different runs in one day, it may be worth it to shell out big bucks for a huge resort. If you're planning on sticking to intermediate runs and taking long cocoa breaks, go to a smaller, cheaper resort.

Location is another factor, since cheaper resorts may be more isolated from urban areas or gorgeous scenery. Then there are amenities: ice rinks, designer shops, and free s'mores around outdoor fireplaces. All of those are very nice, but if you just want to ski or ride cheap, opt for one of these low-frills places instead.

1. Bear Valley, California

Lake Tahoe has the glitz and the views, but the same 3.5-hour drive from San Francisco could also get you to Bear Valley, a family-friendly resort between Tahoe and Yosemite where an adult lift ticket runs $70–$80 (instead of the $100 plus you'll pay at Tahoe). The resort boasts 10 lifts, including plenty of Black Diamonds, and a terrain park.

2. Mount Rose, Nevada

If you're flying into Reno, check out Mount Rose, where a four-person family pack of lift tickets costs just $320–$330 and Tuesdays are BOGO. The resort operates shuttles into Reno, and since it's at higher elevation than Tahoe resorts, it's sometimes the only hill in the area with snow.

3. Mount Baldy, California

Skiing in So Cal? Not only does it exist, but it's cheap as heck at Mount Baldy, where passes bought in advance online can dip below $50. But as you might guess based on the location, just an hour from Los Angeles, this resort doesn't always have snow. When it does, drop everything and head for the mountains.

4. Crested Butte, Colorado

Lift tickets are around $100, but kids ski free during the early and late season. Crested Butte has 15 lifts and 121 trails. This high-elevation, no-frills resort is four hours from Denver.

5. Snowbird, Utah

Lift tickets are $106–$116; Snowbird's stay-and-ski packages can bring that down a bit. That might not seem like such a low price until you consider that Snowbird is considered one of the top mountains in the United States, with tons of terrain and snow that makes the Sierra's "powder" feel like sludge.

6. Mt. Bachelor, Oregon

I don't usually think of Oregon for skiing, but Mt. Bachelor, 22 miles west of Bend, sounds like a lot of fun, with 101 runs and 3,365 feet of vertical drop. Lift tickets are $92, and they have kids ski free packages. Besides, when you're done skiing, you get to hang out in Bend, known for its craft brews and artsy vibe.

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Guest's picture

Try Whitefish, MT. $76 for a single day ticket, discount on multiple days. Stay on the mountain or in the town of Whitefish. Shuttle bus runs to the mountain every hour.
Or Bridger Bowl near Bozeman, MT. $57 for a single day, discounts on multiple day passes. Stay in Bozeman.

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