Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter
Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter - Slope Sips: Après Ski on the Cheap
After a long day hitting the slopes, there's nothing better than relaxing with a Slope Sip and soaking in the après ski scene. But cocktails at ski resort bars can burn through your budget faster than a double black diamond. Luckily, you can enjoy après ski without emptying your wallet at these budget-friendly spots.
For a fun and festive scene on the cheap, head to Tailgate Tavern in the base area of Park City Mountain. This lively bar serves up classic tailgate favorites like wings, sliders, and nachos alongside a great beer selection. Daily happy hour specials from 3-6pm make it easy to grab a cold one without spending a fortune. Or stop into No Name Saloon, an iconic Park City dive bar known for its reasonably priced drinks and rows of bras hanging from the ceiling.
At Loveland Ski Area in Colorado, grill your own food at the inexpensive outdoor Tailgate Grill. Just buy reasonably priced meats by the pound, then cook them yourself on provided grills. Pair your DIY dinner with $3 cans of beer for an ultra-affordable ski day. For a cozier vibe, bring your own beverages into the warmup hut at nearby Arapahoe Basin. There's no bar here, just welcoming benches and tables to rest your legs.
In Vermont, The Rusty Nail Bar and Grill at Stowe Mountain Resort has nightly drink specials like $3 well drinks and $2.50 PBR tallboys. Or stop into The Matterhorn Restaurant and Bar in nearby Waterbury. While bar food here trends towards the pricier side, they offer Vermont craft beers for just $3 from 4-6pm.
Out west in Utah, Davanza's Restaurant in the heart of Park City maintains an extensive menu of creative margaritas, none pricier than $8. The lively environment and dancing make it a great après spot. Over in Deer Valley, Stein Eriksen Lodge's Glitretind Restaurant offers a killer apres ski happy hour Monday through Thursday. Sip premium drinks and nosh on elegant small bites while taking in stunning mountain views. Arrive by 5pm to catch the best specials.
For low key après vibes in California, Belly Up Aspen in Mammoth Lakes has 12 craft beers on tap and live music nightly, all free. Sample local brews from Mammoth Brewing Company while enjoying no-cover bands rocking out in a relaxed, mountain-town setting. Down in Big Bear, Nottingham's Tavern rolls out daily happy hour from 3-6pm with food and drink deals galore. Pop in after skiing Snow Summit or Bear Mountain to wrap up your day.
What else is in this post?
- Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter - Slope Sips: Après Ski on the Cheap
- Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter - Frugal Family Fun: Kid-Friendly Spots That Won't Break the Bank
- Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter - East Coast Steals: Affordable Options Out East
- Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter - Western Winners: Budget Buys Out West
- Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter - Off the Beaten Path: Under-the-Radar Gems
- Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter - Small Town Charm: Hidden Hills That Go Easy on Your Wallet
- Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter - Lodging Deals: Ways to Save on Your Ski Trip Stay
- Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter - Cheap Eats: Fuel Up without Emptying Your Wallet
Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter - Frugal Family Fun: Kid-Friendly Spots That Won't Break the Bank
A ski trip with the kids can be tons of fun, but it's no secret that family vacations can get pricey. Lift tickets, ski rentals, lessons, and après activities quickly add up. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep costs down while still showing your family an awesome time on the slopes this winter. The key is knowing where to go for frugal fun the whole family will love.
For starters, considering staying at a resort with free lift tickets for kids. For example, ski free deals abound throughout Colorado. At Cooper Mountain in Leadville, kids 12 and under always ski free with a paid adult. Down in Durango, Purgatory Resort offers free lift access for kids 5 and under, plus discounts for older kids. Loveland Ski Area also offers free tickets for kids under 6.
Many mountains also offer free season passes or multi-day passes for young rippers. At Powderhorn in Colorado, season passes for kids 6-14 are just $59 when you buy an adult pass. Mt. Rose near Lake Tahoe in Nevada provides free season passes for kids 5 and under and only charges $149 for kids 6-12.
Once you’re set with lift tickets, don’t shell out a fortune on lessons. Check Groupon and Liftopia for discounted learn-to-ski packages. Or see if your mountain has any lesson deals for kids—many offer lesson + rental + lift ticket bundles that cost less than private lessons alone. Beaver Creek, for instance, has a Cubs on Skis package with a group lesson, gear rental, and ticket for just $159.
As for gear, save loads by renting. Most resorts rent junior ski and snowboard packages for under $50/day. Many also let kids try high-performance demo gear for the rental rate. For serious savings, look into season-long rentals. Christy Sports, for example, rents junior ski or snowboard packages for the entire season for just $99. That’s cheaper than a single day’s rental in most places.
When it comes to food, pack affordable snacks like PB&Js, granola bars, and fruits and veggies. Make use of any free amenities like coffee, hot chocolate, or water. For quick, budget eats, ski resort cafeterias usually offer deals like $5 pizzas, $6 burgers, and $2 soft drinks. Or grab cheap takeout and have a fun picnic. Mammoth Lakes in California has grab-and-go sushi deals at Sierra Sundance Whole Foods. Smashburger and Carl’s Jr. by the slopes in Vail, Colorado dish out burgers and fries for less than $5.
Finally, don’t miss out on free activities like snow tubing hills, ice skating, and sledding. Many mountains have magic carpet rides and beginner handle tows that are free or cheap. Scenic gondola rides are also often free for kids under a certain age. At Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Idaho, the Lakeview Gondola is free for kids under 6. Creative games like seeing who can ski the most vertical or stop the fastest down a run bring extra entertainment. And simple pleasures like building snowmen, snowball fights, and hot tub time after skiing never get old.
Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter - East Coast Steals: Affordable Options Out East
Hitting the slopes out east this winter? You'll find plenty of great skiing without breaking the bank in New England and the Mid-Atlantic regions. From cozy mom-and-pop hills to big-name resorts, these are some of the best budget-friendly spots to check out.
In Vermont, Bolton Valley Resort offers insane savings for families and groups. Score lift tickets for just $10 on Mondays and Fridays. Throughout the season, they also run lodging and lift combo deals like stay two nights and ski two days for just $129 per person. With 71 trails spread across 300 acres and a solid vertical drop of 1,704 feet, you'll enjoy legit east coast skiing at a steal of a price.
Down in New Hampshire, Pats Peak dishes out discounts galore seven days a week. Daily online deals include 2-for-1 night skiing on Fridays and Saturdays and 50% off mornings Monday through Friday. With 28 trails, it's on the smaller side, but high-speed lifts help you maximize time carving corduroy. The mountain exudes a retro, community vibe harking back to skiing's early days.
In the Poconos region of Pennsylvania, Camelback Resort draws crowds with value-packed packages. Their Quad Pack bundles four weeknight lift tickets for just $99 - that’s under $25 a day. The massive Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month program also hooks first-timers up with crazy-cheap lessons, rentals, and lift tickets. Camelback's 34 trails and 16 lifts provide plenty of terrain to progress from newbie to expert.
The Mid-Atlantic region’s Liberty Mountain Resort entices families with bargain lift ticket and lodging combos. Ski-and-stay packages start at just $45 per person on weekdays and $89 on weekends. They also offer discounted twilight tickets and “Night Tracker” add-ons for evening skiing under the lights. With 16 trails covering 100 acres, it's not huge, but terrain parks and glades keep things exciting.
In the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, Catamount Mountain Resort rolls out ridiculously cheap midweek deals. We’re talking just $25 lift tickets on Wednesdays and $35 on Thursdays. $10 late-afternoon tickets let you hit a few evening runs for the cost of a fancy latte. With 40 diverse trails spanning 225 acres, you’ll stay occupied from open to close.
Down in Virginia, Massanutten Resort serves up savings for beginners with packages including lessons, gear, and lift tickets from $59. The Family Learn to Ski deal - just $129 for a full day of group lessons for the whole fam - is a total steal. Massanutten's 14 trails and five lifts provide a quality learning environment to build skills.
In North Carolina, Appalachian Ski Mountain keeps prices low across the board. Weekend all-day lift tickets cost $59 for adults and $49 for kids. Nights skiing under the lights goes for a bargain $25 after 4pm. Family-friendly terrain, expert instructors, and snowmaking capabilities make this little Carolina gem a budget winner.
Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter - Western Winners: Budget Buys Out West
Out west, world-class skiing often comes with a hefty price tag. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find plenty of mountains that go easy on your wallet without skimping on snowy thrills. These western winners make experiencing the Rockies, Sierras, and Cascades possible for mere mortals not blessed with billionaire budgets.
One of my personal favorite budget buys is Red Lodge Mountain in southern Montana. Adult lift tickets here cost around $65, about half of what you’d pay at glitzy neighbors like Big Sky. But with over 60 trails ranging from mellow groomers to steep adrenaline rushers, the skiing and riding is just as good. Locals rave about the “cold smoke” powder that blankets the peak. Après vibes in nearby Red Lodge town are lively yet cozy.
Brian, an avid skier from Denver, swears by Loveland Ski Area. “It’s just over an hour from downtown, but so much cheaper than places like Vail. I can score lift tickets for like $75 and they get tons of snow.” Loveland’s 1,800 vertical feet deliver an awesome variety of terrain. Scheduled “Valley Pass” deals offer 2-for-1 access. Thirty-four trails of Rocky Mountain bliss at half the typical price? Yes please.
Over in Idaho, Kelly from Seattle recommends Lookout Pass. “It’s right on the border with Montana, so you get that authentic northern Rockies experience for cheap. I snagged lift tickets for $47 last time.” Lookout earns its name with panoramic views of three states from the summit. Deep powder plus night skiing with tickets at just $30 make this a hidden gem.
Utah is known for glitzy resorts like Park City, Deer Valley, and Snowbird. But Alta Ski Resort offers similar thrills without the private jet price tag. Adult lift tickets check in around $85. Mark from Salt Lake City loves Alta for its “super light and fluffy snow, breathtaking views, and chill vibe.” Five hundred inches of annual snowfall and some of the most extensive backcountry access around make this old-school resort a top choice.
Down in New Mexico, George from Texas enjoys the savings at Ski Apache. “It's just $65 for a full-day adult lift ticket, which is totally reasonable. The mountain is high, so they get tons of light, fluffy snow.” Advanced and expert skiers particularly dig Ski Apache’s steep runs and gladed tree skiing. Multi-day packages and stay-and-ski deals offer even more chances to save.
Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter - Off the Beaten Path: Under-the-Radar Gems
Beyond big-name resorts, obscure and out-of-the-way ski hills scattered across the country offer surprising steals for savvy powder hounds. What these under-the-radar spots lack in name recognition, they make up for with charm, legit terrain, and bargain lift tickets that gently cushion your wallet.
Jake from Minneapolis recommends Giants Ridge in northern Minnesota. “It's way up north near the Canadian border and most people have never heard of it. But they have really nice groomed runs and surprisingly great tree skiing in the backcountry. And get this - lift tickets are only $57 during the week.” Giants Ridge's two peaks span 250 acres of skiable terrain. Thirty-four runs range from novice to expert. Midweek madness deals like $25 night skiing make this hidden gem well worth the trek.
Out east, Mad River Glen in Vermont flies under the radar compared to neighbors like Stowe and Killington. But classic New England charm and unique cooperatively-owned status give Mad River serious soul. “It's totally stuck in time with this retro, bare bones vibe,” explains Jeff from Boston. “And you can grab lift tickets for under $100 during the week.” Forty-five trails snake down 2,000 vertical feet of varied Vermont terrain. Mad River keeps costs down thanks to member investments rather than corporate dollars. For skiers seeking an old-school escape, it can't be beat.
Another quirky cooperatively-owned ski area is Alta, Utah’s “other” resort tucked in Little Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City. Alta doesn't boast Beaver Creek amenities or Park City scene. And that's exactly why Mike from SLC loves it. “No over-the-top frills or pretentiousness. Just legit skiing at a reasonable price.” While single-day tickets hover around $100, 5-day passes offer 30% savings. Serious steeps, 500 annual inches of powder, and a laid-back community vibe make Alta an appealing under-the-radar alternative.
Lesser-known areas near major ski destinations also provide value. Challenge Aspen in Colorado flies under the radar in Vail and Aspen’s shadow. But lift tickets under $60 and adaptive ski programs give this tiny gem heart. Near Tahoe, Sierra-at-Tahoe offers 2,000 feet of vert and amazing tree skiing minus the Heavenly hype. “It’s so peaceful and crowd-free,” says Luke from Sacramento. Smaller hills like these let you enjoy world-class regions without world-class prices.
Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter - Small Town Charm: Hidden Hills That Go Easy on Your Wallet
Beyond big-name ski meccas, countless tiny ski hills are scattered across the country that offer big fun on small budgets. What these pint-sized resorts lack in sheer size or vertical drop they make up for with quintessential charm, legit terrain, and bargain lift tickets that go easy on your wallet.
Meg from Iowa City loves Sundown Mountain in her home state. "It's just this tiny, unassuming hill in the middle of farm country. But they have surprisingly awesome runs through the trees and fun terrain features. And get this - I got my season pass for just $199!" Sitting on 150 acres with 16 trails and a 475 foot vertical drop, Sundown punches above its weight. Night passes for just $25 let you log bonus evening laps. Grab a famous pork tenderloin sandwich in the lodge after.
Chris from Upstate New York is a fan of tiny Titus Mountain. "It's way up in Malone near the Canadian border and most people around here have never even heard of it. But they have real vertical - 1,200 feet! - and super nice corduroy cruisers. It's like skiing in a postcard." Titus' trails overlook peaceful farmland vistas straight out of an idyllic painting. Midweek tickets go for around $40, making this scenic hill a peaceful escape from pricey Whiteface.
Down in North Carolina, Bryan from Asheville loves hitting Wolf Ridge Ski Resort when he's craving a quick mountain fix. "It's just 25 minutes from my house but feels so charming and remote up there. They have a tiny lodge and only 15 trails, but lift tickets are under $50 and the staff are so friendly." Nestled high in the Appalachians, Wolf Ridge offers legitimate steeps and glades amid an intimate, throwback vibe. Night skiing stays open until 1am for just $25.
Shannon from Minneapolis enjoys Detroit Mountain in her home state for its nostalgic, community feel. "It's this little slice of skiing history that's been around since the 1930s. Nothing fancy, just good honest skiing for around $50 a day." With 22 runs across 100 acres, it's not huge, but high-speed lifts and Midwest hospitality make for a memorable day.
Lauren from Portland, Maine loves lostaik in her backyard. "It's practically in my town, but feels so charmingly remote. They have just three lifts and 14 trails, but it has that quintessential Maine vibe. And tickets are under $50!" Lost Valley proves bigger isn't always better with its laid-back charm, 1,000 feet of vertical, and budget-friendly prices.
Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter - Lodging Deals: Ways to Save on Your Ski Trip Stay
Lodging deals are a skier's best friend when trying to save some money on a ski trip. Let's be real - lift tickets and après drinks can already put a decent dent in your budget. Dropping a few hundred bucks a night on a swanky slopeside hotel would drain it completely.
The good news? You've got options. From budget motels to condo rentals to vacation home swaps, there are plenty of ways to keep lodging costs low without sacrificing comfort or convenience.
Jenna from Denver swears by snagging an Airbnb property near the mountain instead of directly on-site. "I just stayed in Silverthorne while skiing Copper Mountain and it was so much cheaper than staying in the village. It was still only a 15 minute drive to the slopes." Ski towns are filled with quality Airbnbs and vacation rentals that put you close to the action for a fraction of the price.
Another pro tip? Don't limit your search to ski-in/ski-out places. "I stay down in Frisco or Silverthorne when skiing Breckenridge," explains Kyle. "The extra 10-15 minute drive is worth saving hundreds on lodging." Unless ski-in/out access is an absolute must-have, look to condos and cabins even just outside resort villages to uncover deals.
Vacation home rental services like Vacasa and TurnKey also dish out major discounts, especially for last-minute trips. "I always check Vacasa at the last minute and have scored condos for 50% off or more," says Amanda from Portland. These companies contract unused condos and cabins from owners, so flash deals pop up when units sit empty.
Jason from Minneapolis suggests looking at private homeowners renting places on VRBO too: "I found an awesome cabin that slept 8 for just $250 a night total. Way better than cramming into hotel rooms." Smaller private rentals often offer lower nightly rates plus added amenities like full kitchens.
Another insider tip? Don't overlook budget-friendly hotel chains located near ski resorts. "I stay at the La Quinta in Silverthorne - it's only about 15 minutes from Keystone, free breakfast included, and rates around $100 a night," shares Thomas. Brands like Best Western, Days Inn, Super 8 and Motel 6 all have convenient outpost properties near the slopes without the steep prices.
Of course, keep your eyes peeled for ski and stay packages offered directly through resorts and hotels as well. "I did a package at Winter Park that included my lift tickets plus three nights lodging for only $350 total," says Megan from Denver. Bundles that combine discounted rooms with freebies like lift tickets and rentals can unlock huge savings overall.
And if you've got friends or family with ski condos or cabins, don't be shy about inquiring. "I'm lucky enough to have friends with places in Tahoe. When they're not using it, I can stay for free and just help pay utilities," explains Tyler from San Francisco. Splitting costs via home swaps unlocks affordable stays in coveted destinations.
Powder on a Budget: The Cheapest Spots to Hit the Slopes in the US This Winter - Cheap Eats: Fuel Up without Emptying Your Wallet
Après ski drinks and gourmet mountain dining can quickly devour your budget faster than an Olympic mogul skier. But you can fuel up without emptying your wallet if you know where to grab tasty grub on the cheap.
Packing nutritious snacks like trail mix, protein bars, and fruits is always a smart money-saving move. Just don't forget the mini bottle of whiskey for the hot cocoa later! Once hunger strikes on the hill, scope out budget bites at the resort's cafeterias and lodges. "Most mountains have 'day lodges' with big cafeterias with cheap things like personal pizzas, burgers, hot dogs and fries for 5 or 10 bucks a pop," advises Jeff from Denver. Fill up on quick, hot comfort foods minus the table service frills.
For a relaxing out-of-the-cold lunch, have an easy picnic in your car or on outdoor tables. "We always pack sandwiches and store them in the ski locker with drinks and chips," shares Lauren from Salt Lake City. Enjoy your own home-packed meal under the sunny (or snowy) skies rather than dropping $20+ per person at a sit-down lodge restaurant.
If you forgot the PB&Js, swing by any mountainside coffee shop or bakery for a quick bite. "Last time I grabbed a turkey sub from the deli at Beaver Creek for like $7 bucks which filled me up," says Tyler from Dallas. Most resort villages have at least one humble sandwich or coffee shop with reasonably priced grab-and-go options.
Scope out any nearby towns or villages at the mountain's base too. Breckenridge, for instance, has tasty taco shops and Asian joints that are way cheaper than eating slopeside. "We go into town for dinner a lot of nights to get good food for pretty cheap," Megan from Denver explains. Don't limit yourself to high-priced on-mountain dining.
For dinner, having a kitchenette in your condo or hotel is clutch. "We cook easy stuff like pasta and tacos on nights we want to save money," advises Amanda. Grocery shopping lets you enjoy home-cooked meals and cold brews in the comfort of your PJs after an exhilarating day shredding corduroy.
If dining out, don't overlook authentic mom-and-pop eateries tucked in ski towns. "Some of my favorite meals are at these little hole-in-the-wall family spots," shares Chris from Tahoe. "Way better prices than big resort restaurants." Quirky cafes and diners with local flavor often offer hearty, delicious dishes without the sticker shock.