If there’s one thing ski families always want to know, it’s how to save money on skiing.
Learning to ski and snowboard can be costly, with expenses for lift tickets, lessons and equipment. Multiply these charges by two or four or more, and the costs can seem overwhelming.
But they don’t have to be.
One of the great innovations in the U.S. ski industry is the school age pass. In many states, kids in certain grades can get free or discounted lift tickets.
The grades vary. For example, Michigan’s Cold is Cool Passport is for 4th and 5th graders, while Maine’s WinterKids Passport is for 5th, 6th and 7th graders. Some states require children to attend school in the state, others, like the Colorado Ski Country USA 5th and 6th Grade Passport, are available in limited numbers to any and all 5th and 6th graders, regardless of their address.
In addition to lift tickets, some states offer discounted lessons, rentals and other deals. If your child is in grade school, do some research to find out which programs are available to you now and in the future.
Hot Tip: The Colorado Ski Country USA Gem Card is just $30 and is valid at 11 independent Colorado ski resorts, including Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, Sunlight, Powderhorn. Card holders get two 2-for-1 tickets or two 30% off discounts (or one of each of these deals) at every ski area. No age restrictions, order now.
No Passport, No Problem
If your child isn’t covered by a passport program, you can still find exceptional deals.
If you live in Colorado, Utah, Washington state or Canada, check out the Epic SchoolKids program for children in Kindergarten through 5th grade. Depending upon which state or country you live in, Epic SchoolKids provides five days of free skiing at nearby Vail Resorts mountains. Registration is mandatory and closes in mid-October.
New this season is the Power Kids pass from Purgatory Resort for kids 10 and under. With no blackouts, pass holders ski free any day at Purgatory Resort (CO), Pajarito Mountain Ski Area (NM), Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort (NM), Snowbowl (AZ), Hesperus (CO) and Nordic Valley (UT) during the 2019/2020 season.
Arapahoe Basin in Colorado offers two free ski days, with no blackouts or limitations, to any child ages 6-12. This deal, called the Kids Free 2 Ski Pass, also includes 50% off a full-day first-timer lesson. Participating kids must be registered online or in person by mid-December (exact date TBD).
One of our favorite programs rewards high school honor students. Grand Geneva Resort and Spa in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin has a discounted Honor Roll Season Pass for students maintaining a “B” average throughout the winter. The ski area requires good grades to keep the pass active and, as it says on their website, they check.
Finally, here’s one just for teachers. Angel Fire Resort in New Mexico has a $99 season pass for K-12 teachers from any state.
Hot Tip: Your local mountain season pass may offer free days at other resorts or discounts at local businesses. Travel to an affiliated resort and ski for free!
Never underestimate the power of a “locals” discount.
If you live in ski country, you may be able to find good deals by virtue of your address and by asking around.
Hot Tip: Ask every ski mom and ski dad you know about discounts. Ski parents are your most valuable resource.
Check with your school district for deals on lessons and inquire about reduced cost lift tickets for employees of local businesses. Visit resort websites and check out package deals for lessons. Bundling lessons with lift tickets and rentals can often save money.
Hot Tip: If you don’t own ski equipment, season rentals from your local resort or ski shop can save you time and money!
One of the best ski school offers is at Lookout Pass in Wallace, Idaho. For 77 years, Lookout Pass has provided the Famous Free Ski School to local children. Each winter, kids up to age 17 can take free lessons on nine consecutive Saturdays. Rentals aren’t included, but participants don’t need a lift ticket unless they stay to ski after class.
Colorado’s Powderhorn Mountain Resort provides free learn to ski and snowboard lessons to “never ever” guests. Take up to three lessons (including free rentals and free lift tickets) and then you can purchase a steeply discounted season pass.
Loveland, Colorado’s Three Class Pass is similar, and available to all beginners and intermediates. Take three lessons and get a free season pass. The Three Class Pass is available for children and adults.
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