18 Ways to Save on Your Utah Ski Vacation
Finding the goods at Powder Mountain - Photo by Matt Gibson
Mar 4 2014
Utah powder feels great no matter how much money you spend to get on the slopes. Most of us have a limit to how much we can spend on a ski vacation. Saving a few bucks could mean a lot and may even provide an opportunity to spend another few extra days playing in the fluffy stuff. Here are a few ideas to save on your trip:
There are multiple ways to save on lift passes, especially if you plan in advance.
Costco – The Salt Lake City location offers discount lift tickets for Canyons, Snowbird, Park City and Sundance. You won’t find these deals online, so call the local store for availability. In addition, they offer discount gift card to Ski n See, which would save you on equipment rentals.
Liftopia – While discounts and availability vary on Liftopia, some of their deals are amazing. For example, at the time of this writing, they are offering a 50% discount on Sundance lift tickets + rental. Shop early because quantities are limited.
REI – Local REI stores offer slight discounts on lift tickets, not as big as Liftopia, but worth checking.
Ski Utah Site – Our site is an excellent first stop for ski deal hunting and sure beats checking a hoard of separate resort sites.
5th and 6th Grade Passport – Regardless of where you live, the 5th and 6th Grade Passport deal is one not to miss if you have children in those grades. It takes a little time to process, so request the pass early.
Boarding Pass – This is a special deal offered by Alta and Snowbird. Present your airline boarding pass within 24 hours of arrival, and get 50% off an AltaSnowbird Lift Ticket, Monday through Friday. There are some restrictions, so visit their site for info.
Kids Ski Free Deals at Utah Resorts – Several resorts allow kids age to ski free with an adult lift ticket. Typically this applies to kids age five or six and under, check with individual resort for specifics.
Choose a small or more distant resort – Explore all of Utah’s resorts. A slightly longer drive from an airport could really save you some money and still provide epic skiing. For example, Powder Mountain, located roughly 1 ½ from Salt Lake City, is known for deep fluffy snow. I visited there 10 days after our last snow and found fresh powder stashes. Lift tickets will run you $65 for an adult, or $35 for a child 7-12. Children six and under ride free.
Don’t be the shivering skier in jeans and a cotton hoodie. Ski clothes are expensive but vital to comfort on the slopes. If you’re a new skier, or if the 80s called and wanted their ski gear back, consider these budget friendly ideas:
Buy Second Hand – This is how I scored my first ski pants and coat. While sources such as eBay are well known, here are a few more ideas that might be less obvious. Ski towns are the most likely to offer a selection of used gear, both in shops or online. In Salt Lake City, visit 2nd Tracks Sports or shop online at KSL.com. Note that while 2nd Tracks offers online shopping, they usually have much more on the racks, so visit in person.
Borrow – This is the cheapest option if you are lucky enough to have friends who wear the same size.
Rent – Renting clothes is a good option for short ski trips. I recently tested a service called Get Outfitted that rents high-quality ski clothes. They deliver the clothes to your destination, along with a postage paid bag for returns when you’re done. Not only do you get to wear the latest style, you don’t have to pack it in your luggage either.
If you don’t own equipment, you’ll need to decide whether to buy or rent. If you know that you’ll ski several times each season, buying could provide better gear for less. However, if you only ski once or twice a year, rentals save both money and the hassle of packing skis, boots etc.
Second Hand – If you opt to buy, purchase at least some items used. Good picks are skis, poles and helmet. Boot fit is critical, making ski boots harder to buy used. Like ski clothes, try eBay or shops such as 2nd Tracks or online at KSL.com. Level Nine Sports is another option for new gear at discount prices.
Rental – To save on rentals, shop online and consider off-hill locations. A number of ski rental shops offer discounts for booking online. You can pick up your gear on the way to the resort, or in some cases, have it delivered.
Stay off-mountain – Rooms on the mountain command premium rates because of the convenience, and if you will only be in town for a couple of days, I’d recommend paying the extra money. However, if you plan a longer stay, save money by booking a room off the mountain. Keep in mind that this works best if you have a car. Also, if snow rolls in, you may need to ride skier bus up the canyon unless or rent a four-wheel drive.
Hostels/bunkhouses – Stay in a dorm room or private room with a shared bath for considerably less than a traditional hotel room. Just make sure you reserve early because these spaces book fast during the winter.
Watch for special deals – While resorts often sell out on the weekends, they often can’t fill all of their rooms during the week. Watch for weekday deals if you have the flexibility.
Pack Lunches – Mountain food is expensive. Plan like a local and pack lunch instead. That said, we almost always splurge on hot chocolate and an order of French fries to warm us up during the afternoon.
Make Dinners In-Room – If you book a room with at least a fridge, you can prepare simple dinners in to save a bunch of money compared to resort fare.