Hit the Slopes and Save: Five Cheap Ski Vacations

Are you a penny pincher with wanderlust? Don’t fret; here is our guide to riding and enjoying five different ski-centric locations while sticking to the budget.
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Freshly groomed snow, Alta Ski Area, Utah
Groomed run at Alta Ski Area, Utah  (Alta Ski Area)

Ski vacations run the gamut from romantic getaways for two in high-style luxury lodges to nine snowboarders crammed in a dinky slope-side condo. Now that lift tickets have smashed through the $100 barrier, it's high time to look beyond the glitz and the Ritz at some of the country’s top ski slopes and look for the hills that won't break the bank. On the cheap skiing side of the continuum, here are five top spots where you will get more runs for your buck.

Mt. Rose
Reno, Nevada
The biggest little city in the world is only 25 miles from the nearest ski area. Reno's local hill, Mt. Rose, has plenty of terrain for skiers of all levels: 1,200 acres span over 1,400 vertical feet serviced by eight lifts. Big hotel-casinos in Reno regularly offer ski-and-stay packages for as low as $79 per person per night, including free shuttles to the slopes. With a rental car, you can also easily use Reno as a base to ski any of the Lake Tahoe-area resorts without much trouble. It's about 40 miles from the airport to the resorts around North Lake Tahoe and 60 miles to South Lake Tahoe, not one of the cheap skiing spots in the U.S., but certainly one of the finest.

Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, and Solitude
Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City is as user-friendly as an American ski city gets. You've got two canyons (Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon) just east of town with four terrific resorts (Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, and Solitude), all within an hour's drive of the airport. You can buy one pass that's good at all four resorts, the Ski Salt Lake Super Pass, for $69 to $73 a day with a three-day minimum. The price includes a ski bus ride to the lifts, making a rental car something of a luxury. Focus at least two days on historic (and skier-only) Alta and seriously vertical Snowbird, then head to Big Cottonwood Canyon on day three for either Brighton, a snowboarder's favorite, or Solitude. Lodging in Salt Lake is also relatively inexpensive and the city has no shortage of good restaurants and microbreweries downtown.

Published: 1 Oct 2012 | Last Updated: 2 Oct 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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