Ski Savings: Hit the Slopes for Less

September 14, 2016

If you’ve been watching the news, you’ve already heard about a light dusting or two of snow on the higher mountain peaks and in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s official: winter is coming. And that means ski season is right around the corner.

Winter in Colorado means different things to different people, but for a large section of Colorado residents that first dusting of snow signals the time to begin preparing for the upcoming ski season.

Last season’s ski passes are being evaluated, old ski equipment is being looked at, and of course, people are looking at their budgets because skiing is not the cheapest activity. Fortunately, it’s possible to ski frugally—or at least access inexpensive resources and tools that will lower the overall cost to the upcoming ski season.

Maintenance is Key
Spend some time looking at your current ski and snowboarding equipment. If you’re not too worried about having older gear then getting your bindings tightened, and your boards and skis waxed is worth the expense. According to some ski bums we came across online, $50-$60 for a complete tune-up is the right price. Call your favorite ski shop to see if they offer in-store tune ups. If you wait to get your gear tuned up at the resort, you might pay a premium.

Thrift Rocks!
If you plan on visiting some of the mountain towns connected to a ski resort (Breckenridge, Nederland, Vail, etc.) or even if you’re in the metro area, check out used equipment shops or thrift stores to pick up new-to-you gear. Need a new coat, ski goggles, or a newer snowboard? Thrift stores or used equipment stores are a great way to save a nice amount of cash.

Kids Ski Too!
If you grew up in Colorado, you may have learned to ski as an adult.  Yes, this might surprise new residents, but a lot of Colorado natives didn’t learn to ski until much later in life. In reality, only about 30% of Colorado residents actually ski.

Fortunately, the ski resorts have started helping children learn how to ski when they’re still young, and as a result, school kids between kindergarten and 5th grade can learn how to ski for free through the Epic School Kids Ski Program. For parents this is a great way to spend time on the mountain while the kids take free lessons!

Kids also have the opportunity to participate in the Learn to Ski and Ride program through Denver Parks and Recreation. Children between the ages of 7-17 years old are shuttle to Winter Park and get a day of ski instruction (equipment, lessons, and transportation) for only $30. This is a great program for the parent who doesn’t know how to ski/snowboard, but would love to expose their child to a fun winter activity. Details for the 2016-2017 ski season aren’t available currently, so check back soon!

Be Someone’s Buddy
If you have a friend who skis regularly, see if they have buddy passes. Another way to be someone’s buddy is to share hotel or cabin space. If you’re lucky enough to know someone with a ski condo or getaway, you’ve hit the jackpot. If not, you can always offer to split an Airbnb or VRBO rental.

Carpool
Traveling into the mountains is a pain. Carpooling is a great way to minimize the pain and save on gas. You could take turns driving for each separate trip. Carpooling will minimize the wear and tear on each person’s car and everyone will experience the pain of driving up I-70 during peak ski season. If you don’t have friends who want to split a ride, there are also some public transportation options like...

Bustang
Their schedule could use some work, but if you plan on spending a couple of days in the mountains Bustang is a very inexpensive way to get there. Stops include: Frisco and Vail. If you get off at Frisco, you can then take the free shuttle to Breckenridge. Do make sure that you have access to transportation once you arrive in town as the current schedule will have you arriving during the evening.

Ski Train
Amtrak recently announced that the recently dormant ski train will be making a comeback for the 2016-17 season! It’s a little bit pricey at $78 for a round-trip ticket, but if you’re looking for a relaxing and scenic way to enjoy (yeah, when was the last time you enjoyed a drive up I-70) your Saturday morning drive to Winter Park, the ski train is the way to go.

Discount Websites
Spend some time checking websites that offer equipment rental and lift ticket deals. Here are three websites we found during a random search:

You can also subscribe to your favorite ski resort’s newsletter to find out about one-time deals and cool events that they plan on having on the mountain. Using just a few of these tips will help get you on the mountain and keep some of your hard earned money in your pocket.

How do you save money on skiing? Leave your tips in the comments!