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 in advance at Park City (seven tickets to be used over 10 days), you could save up to 23% over buying day-by-day at the window! Most of 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 $59 ($69 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 $47, but gives you access to Albion and Sunnyside lifts. That’s a pretty nice area!
Alta Ski @ 3 - A Ski @ 3 season pass to ski the Sunnyside Lift at Alta from 3:00pm-4:30pm will only set you back $29! Lot's of locals take advantage of the deal, but it's also a cheap way to go if you would like a few light days on your schedule. Or you could plan another fun activity and still rack up a few turns!
Look into Multi-Mountain Passes – Why ski one mountain? Passes such as the Mountain Collective, Ikon 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. Compare the Mountain Collective, Ikon, and Epic Passes all on one page.
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 72% discount on Snowbird 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 $85 for an adult, or $47 for a child 7-12. Children six and under and adults 75 and older ride free! Plus they have military discounts.
Costco – There were passes on sale at the Salt Lake Costco as of December 20th, 2017 when I stopped in. The offer was a 2-Day Adult Pass at Sundance. They're transferable so couple could pair up for a day. These are hit and miss, but it's worth a try. Also spotted were 4 - $25 gift cards to SkiNSee for $80. 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. Jans in Park City offers ski clothing rentals for a reasonable price. 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.
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 in to save a bunch of money compared to resort fare.
Ultra Cheap User Tip From Marty S. - "This is really cheap but I learned it from an old (experienced) local. Use the free hot water and ketchup condiment packs to make a budget tomato soup. Sprinkle with shredded cheese to make more fulfilling.
Visit local super market for pre-made sandwiches and sports drinks that are on sale that week (Gatorade/power aid etc.) Fill camel back with sport drink and pack sandwiches and granola bars. Let it Snow!" We do this with instant mixes as well, plus I keep tea bags in my pocket for a cheap warm up. My favorite is Spiced Espresso Chai - black tea and coffee - a great way to get my heart beating! Tip: if you use hydration pack, use an insulated model or wear it against your body or the tube may freeze.
Do you have some money saving tips to add? Please comment below! You may find your tip added to the list!
More money-saving tips for your next ski/snowboard vacation in 2020 can be found here.