Money-Saving Strategies for Ski Trips

Which Resorts—and When to Go
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Skier cutting through trees
How to thread the needle—through glades, and the economy (Alexa Miller/Photodisc/Getty)
Learn to Ski or Snowboard—and Save!
January is the official Learn a Snowsport Month. Each year, state and regional ski associations team up with the Snowsports Industries America, local ski areas, retailers, and gear manufacturers for great intro deals like Winter Trails Day , when people can cross-country ski and snowshoe for free at more than 70 nordic centers and public land facilities across the country. And each year snowboard-maker Burton invigorates riders with their Learn to Ride program, which offers free lift tickets and lessons at over 150 resorts worldwide with the purchase of select boards for boarders of all skill levels.
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First things first, consider ski areas, not resorts. The fancier the resort, the more expensive the lift ticket, food, and lodging. Sure, skiing Whistler, Vail, Aspen, Telluride, or Park City are all wonderful experiences, but chances are you'll pay a lot less if you stick to places that have "area" rather than "resort" after their name.

Second, rather than heading to a big-name area, consider some of the not-so-famous destinations. For example, North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains boast the highest peaks in the Southeast, and thanks to a considerable investment in snow-making equipment, places like Blowing Rock sometimes offer as many as 142 days of skiing a year. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming is a fabulous place for off-piste skiing, but if you are a beginner or intermediate, Anthony Lakes in eastern Oregon has equally as good powder for half the price. And if you can stand the waiting game, book your room the week before your holiday as many times resorts offer last-minute specials to up occupancy rates.

And finally, whenever possible, avoid holidays and weekends. Do so and you'll find cheaper lift tickets and shorter lift lines. Plus, most children are in school, so you'll have a quieter, more serene experience. If you have a week to ski (and have a flexible schedule), check when the local school district has spring break or no-school days to dodge the crowds. For most resorts, Christmas break, spring break, and President's Day weekend see the longest lift lines. If you do ski during the holidays, remember that the slopes are generally deserted on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day (at least until noon).


Published: 11 Jan 2010 | Last Updated: 7 Nov 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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