Whether you live in Colorado or New York, Utah or Maine, if you live in a skiing state, there’s a good chance your state has a “Passport Program” that allows kids in a certain grade (usually 5th and 6th, sometimes 4th) to ski and ride for free!
In addition, even if you don’t live in one of the states listed below, if you’re willing to travel to four resorts in the Northwest Rockies of Washington and Idaho, your 5th grader can ski for free on the Ski NW Rockies pass, open to kids from ANY state!
Here’s a list of the Passport programs I’ve been able to find. If I’ve missed your state, please let me know!
- Ski New Hampshire 4th and 5th Grade Snowsports Passport. Not only will your kids enjoy free skiing and discounts on lessons and equipment, but a portion of the proceeds goes to the state Make-A-Wish Foundation.
- Ski Vermont 5th Grade Passport. Kids ski for free, while proceeds from the program go to Keep Local Farms to help preserve Vermont’s heritage.
- Michigan Snowsports Industries Association “Cold is Cool” Passport for 4th Graders. Fourth graders can get 3 tickets each at 20 resorts, as long as accompanied by a paying adult.
- Colorado Ski Country 5th and 6th Grade Passport. 5th graders pay $0 for 3 days each at 20 resorts, while 6th graders get 4 days each at 20 resorts for $99. Also includes a free lesson and rental for 5th grade never-ever skiers and riders.
- School of Shred. The Vail Resorts equivalent of the Colorado Passport, 5th and 6th graders get 4 free days at each of Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek and Arapahoe Basin, plus a free first-timer rental and lesson.
- ISkiNY (New York) 3rd and 4th Grade Ski and Ride Passport. Kids in 3rd and 4th grade, of the homeschool equivalent, ski free with a paying adult. Lessons available for 4th graders.
- Maine Winter Kids. A program for 5th, 6th and 7th grade children with discounts available for skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ice skating and dog sledding at 50 locations.
Ski Utah 5th and 6th Grade Passport. Fifth graders get three days free at each of 14 resorts, while 6th graders get one day free at these same resorts. Discounts on lessons and equipment are also available.
- Ski Pennsylvania Snowpass for 4th and 5th Graders. This pass offers three free days at 22 resorts when accompanied by a paying adult, as well as a free learn to ski or snowboard package.
- Ski NW Rockies 5th Grade Passport. A unique program open to 5th graders from ANY state. Passholders ski free for three days at each participating Ski NW Rockies resort.
- Ski Idaho 5th and 6th Grade Passport. Three free days for 5th graders and two days free for 6th graders at each Ski Idaho resort, as well as special deals on lessons and equipment.
- 5th Graders Ski Free at Angel Fire, New Mexico. One free all-day ski pass for 5th graders who present a report card and are skiing with a parent. It’s the only 5th grade deal in New Mexico.
- 5th Grade Ride Free Program at Mount Baker, Washington. All season long, 5th graders with I.D. (report card, school idea or teacher’s note) can ski free with a paying parent.
Five Reasons Skiing Free is EXTRA Good!
1. Save Money. Skiing is expensive. If you can save money, you can ski more. We all want that!
2. Learn with Lessons. A free lesson for beginner skiers is an integral part of many state passport programs When working with kids, instructors find that it takes just one full-day beginner lesson to move a never-ever skier up to advanced beginner. After just one lesson, most kids feel confident and are ready to try again. Without a doubt, learning from a Pro is the best way to learn to ski or snowboard — especially when it’s free!
3. Bring A Friend. One of my favorite things about these Passport programs is how easy it makes to bring friends.
We took one of our son’s buddies to Snowmass when they were both in 5th grade. While the friend had skied a lot at the resort near his home, he’d never experienced a big mountain. Knowing he could ski for free, we loaded him into the car and Snowmass blew his mind. His eyes widened as we approached the mountain. “We get to ski ALL of that?” he asked with a huge grin. And that grin stayed with him all day, as he experienced his first gondola ride, his first high-speed quad and his ski run above tree line.
These are good memories and easy to make when the ticket is free.
With a Passport, at least one family member is usually skiing for free. Some states also offer discount coupons for parents and other family members.
For example, the Colorado Gem Card provides 2-for-1 adult tickets at 8 smaller, family-friendly resorts. Also, don’t forget to check the deals that come with your home mountain’s season pass. This pass may give you some free days or discounts at other nearby mountains.
5. Time Together. Looking for some uninterrupted time with your child? Look no further than a chairlift. Chairlift rides are an opportunity to laugh and chat together, and share the joy of being in the beautiful outdoors.
If you live in a state with a Passport program, now’s the time to sign your child up. By getting a “Ski Free” pass for your child, you’re not only encouraging them in the amazing world of snowsports, but you’re investing in healthy wintertime activity and a lifetime family sport.
That’s the best deal!
Portions of this post originally published at Club Colorado, the Colorado Ski Country USA blog on October 25, 2013.
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