Updated with NEW tips for 2016/17!
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.
Buy Multi-Day – resorts such as Park City Mountain, Solitude and more offer discounts when you buy multiple days at once. For example, if you buy seven days at Park City (seven tickets to be used over 10 days), you could save up to 25%! Often these deals require advance purchase, so plan ahead.
Buy before you arrive – At several resorts, you can save on single day passes when you buy online vs. showing up at the window. Be sure to check!
Consider less than a full day – If you think you might not want to ski ALL day, buy a half-day instead. Especially if you tend to sleep in, there are some afternoon, half-day, and night skiing deals to be had. For example, Sundance Mountain Resort’s Twilight Pass runs from 2:30 PM-9:00PM and is priced at $49 ($59 on holidays). Brian Headoffers half-day passes starting at either 9:00AM or 1:00PM giving you a chance at first chair. These are just two resorts, but there are a lot more.
Save Green by Skiing Green – A few resorts, such as Alta Ski Area, have cheaper tickets for lifts serving mostly (not all) green runs. The Beginner Area Day Pass at Alta is only $45, but gives you access to Albion, Sunnyside, and Cecret Lifts. That’s a pretty nice area!
Look into Multi-Mountain Passes – Why ski one mountain? Passes such as the Mountain Collective, Max Pass, and Epic Pass serve up lots of mountains on one pass. It’s a sweet deal if you travel to different areas each winter.
Is a season pass a better deal? – This is a good question to ask if you’re planning a longer visit or will return this winter. The tipping point is usually around 10 days of skiing, but it varies by resort and with current deal offerings. If it looks like this is the best route for you, buy early, because there are often early season discounts available.
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 61% discount on Sundance lift tickets. 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.
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 and fewer crowds. For example, Powder Mountain, located roughly 1.25 hrs 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 $79 for an adult, or $44 for a child 7-12. Children six and under and adults 75 and older ride free! Plus they have military discounts.
Costco – These are hit and miss, but it's worth a try. The Salt Lake City location offers discount lift tickets for various resorts. You won’t find these deals online, so call the local store for availability. In addition, they offer discount gift cards to Ski City – Salt Lake, Utah, which saves you money on equipment rentals.
Timing Is Everything – Airfare is a HUGE chunk of your vacation expense. Keep it in check by traveling mid-week when airfares are lower. Also, buy tickets at least two weeks ahead and time your purchase for mid-week as well. Airfares often flux upward over the weekend.
Watch Checked Bag Fees – Baggage fees are sneaky and can quickly make a cheap flight a lousy deal. Some airlines even charge for a carry on! Realistically estimate your baggage and check each airline’s policies before booking. If you have an airline credit card, you may have free bag check for yourself, and possibly your whole crew, if you booked the fights on the card.
Use Public Transport Rather Than Renting a Car – Most Utah resorts are served by the UTA Ski Bus. The UTA system can get you from town or the airport to the hill for a few bucks and it’s environmentally responsible.
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 ski clothing rentals from 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 and gear 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.
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.
Food and Other Stuff That Adds Up
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.
Do you have some money saving tips to add? Please comment below!