40+ Ways to Save on Your Utah Ski Vacation

40+ Ways to Save on Your Utah Ski Vacation

Travelin' Mama

By Travelin' Mama \ January 2 2020

Updated with NEW tips for 2019-20! Your ski snowboard vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. There are plenty of ways to save on everything from lift tickets to gear, airfare, and lodging. Don’t miss these tips for saving money on your next trip.

Lift Passes

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 Mountain Resort and more offer discounts when you buy multiple days at once. At Park City Mountain, for example, if you buy your lift tickets online in advance, you get the lowest price guarantee. If you purchase tickets online by midnight the night before you ski, you will still save money off the regular window ticket price. For the biggest savings, purchase your tickets 7 days or more in advance. Most of these deals require advance purchase, so plan ahead and buy online.

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! Also, read our guide on scoring the best deal on daily lift tickets here.

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 Twilight Pass runs from 2:30-9 p.m. and is priced at $69. Brian Head Ski Resort offers half-day passes starting at either 9 a.m. or 1 p.m., giving you a chance at first chair. These are just two resorts, but there are a lot more so check your resort of choice for more information.

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 is only $56 and gives you access to Albion and Sunnyside lifts. That’s a pretty nice area! Check out Deer Valley's learning area pass for $50 for all ages.

Alta Ski @ 3 - A Ski @ 3 season pass to ski the Sunnyside Lift at Alta from 3-4:30 pm is a fantastic way to save. Single lift tickets for Ski at 3 are $15 per person (child or adult) and a season pass for Ski at 3 is $49 (online only). Lots of locals take advantage of the deal, but it's also a great way to go if you would like a few light days on your schedule.

A season pass can help you save - Do you have a season pass from another ski resort? For example, bring it to the Brian Head Ski Resort ticket window and get a 25% discount on a day pass anytime during non-holiday periods. Many resorts offer a similar program. Check their pass pages for details.

Look into Multi-Resort Passes – Why ski one mountain? Passes such as the Mountain Collective, Ikon Pass, and Epic Pass serve up lots of resorts on one pass. It’s a sweet deal if you travel to different areas each winter. Lest you think the smaller resorts are left out on all the fun, don’t dismay. Beaver Mountain is a member of the Indy Pass, a new multi-mountain pass program for small/medium-sized ski areas all over North America.

Beginners. Is your family learning to ski? Consider steering clear of the biggest, trendiest, and most expensive mountains. The smaller resorts are much more budget-friendly and easier to navigate. Here’s a great example: take a beginner lesson at Brian Head Ski Resort and receive a 50% discount off their next lesson. (Must be booked within 7 days of the lesson during non-holiday periods). Many other learn to ski deals can be found here.

Is a season pass a better deal? – This is a good question to ask if you’re planning a longer visit if you live in Utah 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 62% discount on Snowbird lift tickets. Shop early because quantities are limited.

Local Ski Shops and REI – Local 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 sites.

skideals2jpg

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 about 48 hours for the approval process, so apply for the pass ahead of time. 5th graders can ski or ride three times at each of Utah's resorts for $45 while 6th graders can ski or ride one time at each of Utah's resorts for $45.

Kids Ski Free Deals at Utah Resorts – Several resorts allow kids to ski free with an adult lift ticket. Typically this applies to kids age five or six and under, check our resort comparison page for specifics. New this year: Powder Kids 10 and under ski free at Nordic Valley. And back by popular demand, kids 10 and under ski free with a paying adult at Brighton.

Choose a Small or More Distant Resort – Explore all of Utah’s resorts. A slightly longer drive from the 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. Lift tickets will run you $95 for an adult, or $53 for a child 7-12. Children six and under and adults 75 and older ride free! Plus they have military discounts.

Costco – Our favorite neighborhood warehouse offers some fantastic deals on passes. Check-in ahead of time before dropping by as resorts and pricing can change throughout the season.

Travel

Timing Is Everything – Airfare is a HUGE chunk of your vacation expenses. 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. Currently, Park City is offering a great deal: Book a three-night stay and get a $300 voucher with Delta (blackout dates apply between Nov. 22, 2019, and April 12, 2020).

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. Some resort season passes act as bus passes on the UTA Ski Bus so be sure to call ahead.

Clothes

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 score my kids’ gear. 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 Level 9 Sports or shop online at KSL.com. Note that while Level 9 offers online shopping, they usually have much more on the racks, so visit in person. Level 9 will even offer to ship your gear back home to you if you purchase it during your trip to Utah!

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. Jans Mountain Outfitters in Park City offers ski clothing rentals for a reasonable price. Also, check out Kit Lender, an online clothing and helmet/goggle rental company. Rent top of the line gear ahead of time and have it delivered directly to you. Not only do you get to wear the latest style, but you also don’t have to make a big investment.

Equipment

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 Level 9 Sports or online at KSL.com. For a list of local ski swaps in Utah, visit our Ski Swaps page.

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. For more information on rentals, check our rental equipment guide.

skideals1png


Lodging

Stay off-mountain – Rooms on the mountain usually 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 the Ski Bus up the canyon or rent a four-wheel drive. 

Check AirBnB or VRBO - This is a great option, especially if you have a group. The cost of renting a private home might be less expensive than each person finding their own room. However, don't assume this is the cheapest without checking some of the local lodges, etc. - special packages and deals may end up costing less. 

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 Items That Add Up

Watch Out For Little Expenses – Instead of buying bottled water, pack a collapsible water bottle or small camelback and spare the landfill from another discarded plastic bottle. Most on-mountain lodges offer hot and cold water for free. This also opens up the possibility of instant soups, oatmeal, and cocoa. Also, make sure to stuff a few snacks in your pockets. Another costly necessities visitors often forget are SPF lip balm and sunscreen. Trust me, our high-altitude air and the intense sun will work you over!

Pack Lunches – Mountain food can be expensive. I have my family on the slopes nearly every weekend in winter, so we pack snacks, drinks, and food to keep from trashing our budget. You can plan like a local and pack lunch too as many resorts serve up brown-bag designated areas where your own food is welcome. As I mentioned above, most lodges offer free hot water, so use is to make a warm treat! That said, we almost always splurge on hot chocolate and an order of French fries to warm us up in the afternoon.

Make Dinners In-Room – If you book a room with at least a fridge, you can prepare simple dinners to save a bunch of money compared to resort fare.


Do you have some money-saving tips to add? Please comment below! You may find your tip added to the list!

comments