Colorado Vacations 
Family Travel Colorado 
Your Guide to Visiting Colorado with the Kids
Budget Skiing in Colorado

Did You Know?

The average  snowfall for the 26 major Colorado ski resorts is 295 inches per year.

Some areas (Loveland, Wolf Creek) recorded an average of 400
inches or more per year.

: Kids ski in a
major snowstorm at Winter Park

Ski Colorado with the Kids 
Ski Area Review: 
Copper Mountain

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Photo: The ski school at Sunlight
Mountain Resort gets an A+
when it comes to teaching
little kids to ski.

Winter Lodging Options for your Colorado  Ski Trip with the Kids

From rustic cabins to five star resorts, Colorado offers families a variety of choices for tucking the children in.

See our article about the
Best Hotels for a Colorado Christmas Vacation with the Kids.

Photo: The Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs creates a fairyland of twinkle lights for the winter holidays.

10 Tips for Saving Money 
When Skiing in Colorado

Family Skiing at Winter Park
Photo: Family skiing (here at Winter Park, Colorado) doesn't have to break the bank if you know a few tricks for saving money. 

Skiing is
 loads of fun, and a great way to get kids exercising in the fresh air and sunshine, but it carries a whale of a hit when you pull out your wallet to pay for it. 

Still, there are ways to soften the blow, and we’ve listed ten of them here. After all, it’s more fun for the kids if mom and dad are happy, too.


Tip #1:   Avoid the Glitz

As in everything else, you pay for a name brand when you ski. If it is important to tell your friends that you took the kids skiing at a famous, tony ski resort this winter, well, these 10 little tips can help you save only so much money. You’ll still be forking over the cash because everything is more expensive in high-dollar resorts. 

On the other hand, if you ski at one of Colorado’s lesser known ski areas (affectionately know as the “Gems” by Colorado Ski Country USA), then you can have just as much fun (maybe a lot more) for a fraction of the cost.

Our favorite “Gem”? Sunlight Mountain Resort, for it's A+ ski school, super friendly folks, and proximity to Glenwood Hot Springs at the end of a snowy day. But then again, we certainly have loved Loveland, with its wonderful vintage atmosphere, breath taking views, and creative terrain. On the other hand, Monarch Mountain packs a ton of variety, and its fabulous snow is 100% natural. Then there’s … Well, you get the idea.


Tip #2:   5th and 6th Grade Passes

You can also save money skiing if your kids are in 5th or 6th grade in Colorado. Colorado Ski Country USA has promotion that allows them to get tickets for FREE. The card costs a 5th grader nothing, but a 6th grader must fork over $99, which makes them eligible for 3 or 4 free ski tickets at each of 21 different Colorado ski areas.


Tip #3:    Season Ski Passes

Short of getting free lift tickets through the 5th grade Passport program, the least expensive way for a family who skis a lot is to get season passes for their favorite areas. For example, this fall A-Basin Ski Resort is offering a pre-season “Bonus Pass” for $349. That allows an adult to ski all season at A-Basin, plus extra days at Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, and Beaver Creek. Kids can get the same deal for $259. If our family of four skies 10 days this year, that averages out to just over $30 per lift ticket: a very good deal, indeed.


Tip #4:    Early and Late Season Tickets

Another way for families to save money skiing is to go early and late in the season. Early isn’t bad if your kids are never-ever skiers and will be spending the first days on the lower slopes just getting the feel of things. The snow cover will be minimal over most of the mountain, but beginners aren’t skiing many of the runs, anyway.


The spring, however, is exactly the opposite; the snow has had all winter to pile up. And although the snow may be like mushy mashed potatoes, it can be an incredible experience half skiing, half surfing down the mountain. Only die-hard skiers remain (plus a few smart families), the lift lines don’t exist, and sunshine and music soaks the mountainside. After March, prices are in the basement, making spring skiing one of the best bargains around.


Tip #5:     Flat-land Retailers

An easy way to save a few bucks is to buy your ski tickets while you are still in the flat lands of the Front Range cities (Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins, etc.). There, retailers like King Soopers grocery stores and REI sporting goods stores sell discount ski tickets to about 10 different Colorado ski areas. You won’t save a lot, but every few dollars help.


Tip #6:    Buy for Multiple Days

You’re better off if you buy in bulk – whether that means getting a 4-pack of lift tickets or purchasing a season pass to one or more areas.  Also, the farther in advance you buy, the lower the prices. That means getting next year’s season pass when you are still spring skiing this year. At least check out package deals on ski area websites in the early fall. Long before the snow started flying, we bought Loveland 4-packs: $119 for four tickets that are completely transferable. That boils down to a reasonable $30 per ticket.


Tip #7:    Rent for Multiple Days

You can rent your kid’s ski equipment every time you go up, but that means lots of lost time waiting in line at the ski shop at the base of the runs. A better, and cheaper, alternative is to rent skis, boots, and poles from a ski shop for the season. If you are going skiing more than a couple of times, this works out to less than you’d pay if you rented each day, and your kids don’t have to go through the whole fitting process more than once. If they grow during the year, ski shops will often trade for a size up for free.


Tip #8:    Shop Around

The best way to set aside the most cash when planning ski trips with the kids is to start early and shop around.  Make a chart, if you have to, and compare deals on everything from lift ticket prices to equipment rental to ski resort hotels. 

Websites for the different resorts offer plenty of deals, but these are not always the cheapest way to go. You might do better, for example, if you buy a ski ticket four-pack in advance and opt for a hotel a couple of miles away from the pricy base of the mountain.


Tip #9:   Pack your Lunch

As simple as this sounds, you can save a chunk of change by avoiding the cafeteria food on the mountain.

You'll enjoy your turkey on a bagel all the more when you see the greasy little grilled-cheese and soda the poor guy next to you shelled out $15 for. (And he didn’t even get fries with that.)

We've checked with the folks at even the most exclusive ski areas in Colorado, and they all say that brown-baggers are welcome.

Our family routinely brings a Thermos of hot chocolate and cookies as a treat to go with our lunch. We throw it all in a day-pack and take it with us up to the mid-mountain lodge. There, banks of lockers offer skiers a place to stow their gear. (The really tight among us find a spot in the woods near the lodge to dump our packs.) You can enjoy the slopes all the more, knowing how much money you’ll save at meal time.


Tip #10:    Pack your Dinner, Too

After a long day on the slopes, facing ski traffic is the last thing you want to do. It can be tempting to head to a restaurant in town for a high-priced dinner, while the roads clear. However, there is a thriftier option. 

We invested in a large stainless-steel Thermos and fill it with boiling-hot vegetable soup in the morning. It stays hot in the car all day while we ski. When the day is over, we hop in and drive until we find a scenic woodland pull-out, or (our favorite) on scenic overlook of the Dam Road of Dillon Reservoir.

Then we sit and enjoy the view while we dish up hearty soup, rolls from the bakery, and left over carrot sticks from lunch. We finish with brownies, gather the dirty bowls in an old grocery store bag, and head on our way. By that time, the traffic has cleared and the kids are full and sleepy. They call it “ski-soup-sleep”. Then we parents enjoy quiet conversation driving home while our tired little angels snooze in the back seat.


The Bottom Line

Any way you look at it, skiing is an expensive sport. But with a little creativity, effort, and planning ahead, savvy parents can still save a bundle with a few smart tricks.


Related Articles:

Skiing in Colorado with Kids
Colorado Ski Areas - Quick Reviews 
Loveland Ski Area with the Family

Other Information for Skiing in Colorado with the Kids:
What to Bring? Ski Gear List

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