Whether you’re planning your ski vacation or want to slide your snowboard on terrains in the US, there are many options for skiing on a budget. In the country where bigger is better, many of the ski resorts are very large. While Powder Mountain is the largest ski resort in North America, the connected Alta and Snowbird ski resort at 5100 acres is not only one of the largest, but also one of the most affordable US mountain ski resorts. Read on to learn about the 13 affordable US ski towns for skiing on a budget.
Note: Make sure to double-check COVID 19 precautions, protocols, and operating hours before you visit any of these sites.
Whitefish Mountain Resort — Whitefish, Montana
The Whitefish in Montana, Northwest US, is an authentic mountain town in the northern Rockies. Not only is it surrounded by exquisite beauty; it has been ranked as one of the top 52 places to visit in the world by The New York Times in 2020, rated as one of the most beautiful in the US, and the most beautiful town in Montana. The town is well known for environmentalism and is a good place to live for hippies.
For skiing, the Whitefish Mountain Resort on the near Glacier National Park has some of the most affordable mountain ski tickets and equipment rental prices. It was ranked No.3 Best Resort in the West by SKI Magazine Readers for the 2020-21 ski season and placed second in overall value. The swing skiing starts at 1pm and includes night skiing, but night skiing itself is also available.
One-day lift ticket (adults): $85
Lift tickets (children): free
Ski area: 3,000 acres
Tips on how to save: while skiing in the resort is one of the most affordable in the US, the prices of accommodation go up in the high season, that is, during the summer and winter months. You can save by staying in Kalispell instead, which is a 20-minute drive away. Kalispell, being home to Glacier National Park, also has two ski resorts, lakes, and streams for fishing, and also boasts an outstanding art and culture scene.
Schweitzer Mountain — Sandpoint, Idaho
Sandpoint in Idaho is the largest city in Bonner County of Idaho, but more than that, it is also an amazing place to visit for anyone seeking an escape from the busy city life. Nestled between three mountain ranges on Lake Pend Oreille with possibilities to hike in summers and enjoy winter with snowshoeing and skiing, this ski town is a great place to visit if you are from the Pacific Northwest. Even if you are from far away, the Spokane, Wash airport is just 80 miles away with Amtrak.
Sandpoint offers affordable skiing options, but Schweitzer Mountain resort is the largest resort in Idaho and Washington, with an elevation of 6,389 feet, it is a great resort if you are seeking a place that is big on powder, and light on parties. Schweitzer mountain resort has enough varied slopes to keep most intermediate-and-up skiers happy, with lots of free runs and plenty of steeps. If you are traveling with family and want the elderly to enjoy their time on safer activities, Schweitzer mountain also offers Nordic ski trails and, of course, ski school for kids. Forty percent of the terrain is classified as intermediate, 35 as advanced, and 15 percent as an expert with the remaining ten left for beginner level. However, if you are there for a party, then the off-slope life can feel a bit dead. The 4,700-foot-elevation village is shut down early, making it a peaceful and family-oriented resort. Apart from two lodges, vacation homes, two pubs, and one restaurant around a compact street pizza place, there is nothing more in the town. But for a family vacation, that’s a perfect fit.
One-day lift ticket (adults): $89 (midweek, with $95 on weekends and holidays)
Lift tickets (children): free
Ski area: 2,900 acres
Tips on how to save: If you want to save on skiing, plan your ski vacation on midweek days, so you can ski for less. Also, if you choose Alaska Airlines, the boarding passes count for free ski days at resorts near airports. Check it out and save huge on your winter vacation this season.
Bridger Bowl—Bozeman, Montana
Bozeman is a great escape for skiing, biking, and hiking – the nearby Bridger Range, to the North, and the Spanish Peaks, to the South, offer great outdoor activities for any season.
However, if you wish to ski on cheap in affordable ski resorts in North America, then Bridger Bowl might be one of the best bets. While being one of the best ski areas in North America, the place is run for no-profit, making it much more affordable. With areas for beginners, intermediate guests (500 acres) and advanced skiers are available. The resort also includes a bar and lounge, and on your free time in afternoons off-slopes you can visit Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National park in Montana to hike or car-ride some of the most beautiful trails, such as Bozeman to Norris Geyser Basin looking out for Trumpeter Swans on the rivers and bison on the roads.
One-day lift ticket (adults): $63
Lift tickets (children): free
Ski area: 2,000 acres
Tips on how to save: We suggest checking the Bridger Bowl official website, as this season, all visitors are required to make a reservation before skiing or riding. Following ski conditions and managing reservations for both skiing, accommodation, and traveling to Bozeman is crucial to safeguard your holiday joy.
Taos Ski Valley—Taos, New Mexico
Taos Ski Valley ski town is well known for free-skiing and also as a great resort for families. The Ski Valley is also very accessible, with Santa Fe (165 miles away; shuttle service offered) being serviced by American Airlines from Dallas/Fort Worth and Phoenix, and United to Denver International Airport. However, if you just want to ski occasionally, you may consider staying in Santa Fe, which is a bigger town with a ski area just 15 miles away.
The largest ski mountain resort in New Mexico being Taos, it is also among some of the most affordable ski resort options for affordable ski holidays. Although you should watch the snowfall (average snowfall 300 inches) for the trail openings, the Taos Ski Valley ski resort offers strong intermediate and advanced mountains with over half of marked runs being advanced or expert (51%). There are also 2 terrain parks —Maxie’s Terrain Park, Bambi Glade Terrain Park if you prefer snowboarding over skiing.
One-day lift ticket cost (adults): $85 (on Monday-Thursday, non-holiday and non-peak days; other days $128)
Lift day tickets (youth 7-17 y.o.): $90
Ski area: 1,3000 acres
Tips on how to save: If you’re lookingto save even more, then consider the nearby Angelfire ski resort. It is cheaper, more accessible, and more of everyday family type skiers. The lifts for Angelfire are right in the town, whereas it can take 30 minutes to get from Taos to lifts.
Ski Cooper — Leadville, Colorado
The historic city of Leadville in Colorado at 10,152 feet above sea level is the highest incorporated city in North America. And unlike other Colorado mining towns, Leadville still looks like it did in years past, with 70 square blocks of downtown Leadville designed as a National Historic Landmark District of Victorian Architecture of late nineteenth century with the largest opera house of the Mississippi, the saloon visited by Oscar Wilde and so much more to discover on your off-slope time.
If you wish to have a great ski vacation without breaking a bank, give Leadville a go. The Ski Cooper is one of the oldest in the state, opened 78 years ago, and in between the base of 10,5000 feet and summit of 11,700 feet, the 59 trails served by 5 lifts give you an amazing ski experience with an all-natural snow base. However, keep in mind those expecting an area to perform tricks, Ski Cooper does not have much to offer — with no terrain parks, the mountain resort focuses on skiers and mountain snowboarders only. Altogether, Ski Cooper is a great alternative to more crowded ski areas. Generally, here there are no lift lines, high-rise condos, or man-made snow.
One-day lift ticket cost (adults): $80
Lift tickets (children 6-14 years): $60
Ski area: 470 acres
Tips on how to save: If you ski a lot, you may buy the season pass instead, but overall, Ski Cooper is still one of the most affordable ski resorts in Colorado.
Donner Ski Ranch — Norden, Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Lake Tahoe is a well-known winter ski destination. Norden receiving on average 500 inches of snow per year has the snowiest ski resorts in the High Sierra. But the winter fun does not stop here. The town is great for off-slope fun as well. You can book ski lodging at the lakefront and listen to Celtic Harp music. You can go to bars and wine-tastings, or take the whole afternoon to drive to a deer farm to see the Mule deer.
Donner Ski Ranch is one of the cheapest ski areas in Lake Tahoe. There are many affordable options — see the best Lake Tahoe lift ticket deals. Donner Ski Ranch, a family-owned ski area located at the Donner Summit in Tahoe National Forest of Nevada. The mountain terrain is mostly oriented towards beginner and intermediate skiers, with beginner runs at 31% and intermediate runs at 38%, with the remaining 21% and 10% targeting advanced and expert skiers. With 8 total lifts, it is a comparatively small ski resort, perfectly navigable for those just starting.
One-day lift ticket cost (adults): $35
Lift tickets (children): free
Ski area: 500 acres
Tips on how to save: Instead of getting a flight from San Francisco, consider taking a bus or train. In the case of a bus, you can travel to Norden for much less, at the same time not spending more time on the road.
Cranmore Mountain — North Conway, New Hampshire
The North Conway village in Carroll, New Hampshire, is a great place to escape the crowds and buzzing city. You can take a hike to Diana’s baths with smooth rocks and waterfalls any time of the year, and go shopping in the tax-free North Conway Settlers Green with over 60 national retailers.
East coast skiing and snowboarding emphasize family skiing and although has less of a natural powder, the man-made and natural snow is hard to tell apart these days. After all, New Hampshire’s Gallatin Valley is where multi-medallist Bode Miller comes from.
Regarding budget-friendly family ski destinations, Cranmore is located in the heart of North Conway, has skiing and riding for all ability levels and premier learning programs plus off-the-hill activities for all the family. The newly-added night skiing is a thrilling option for those seeking a rush of adrenaline.
One-day lift ticket cost (adults): $69
Lift tickets (children): $42
Ski area: 200 acres
Tips on how to save: Save $5 off each ticket that is purchased online 24 hours in advance.
Brighton — Salt Lake City, Utah
Apart from skiing, Brighton offers great hiking trails in Big Cottonwood Canyon and Lake Blanche. You can also go to Donut Falls Trailhead for forest hiking.
Brighton is one of the most laid-back ski hills of Salt Lake, attracting a young crowd, many of whom are snowboarders. It is also the only Ski City’s night ski spot with over 200 acres of lighted runs to extend your day on the mountain. When hungry during the midday, go down to the base area, which sports its friendly tavern with burgers, beer, nachos, and sunny patio available.
One-day lift ticket cost(adults): $89 (with weekend and holiday tickets at $93)
Lift ticket (children): free
Ski area: 1050 acres
Tips on how to save: Instead of booking a taxi or shuttle from SLC Airport to the ski resort, consider Uber Ski with ski racks or Lyft. If you are staying in Salt Lake City instead of Brighton, consider taking the Ski Bus.
Bolton Valley Resort—Burlington, Vermont
Burlington is just 17 miles away from Bolton Valley Resort, which makes it a great place to travel to during the winter holiday season if you are more of a holiday skier than a fanatic. Being the most populous city in Vermont, Burlington offers a lot of fun to anyone eager to explore its streets. Downtown with shops and restaurants, and American folk and decorative art collection of historic buildings in the vast Shelburne Museum will keep you entertained during your visit.
The Bolton Valley is just 30 minutes from Burlington, and, although there is no direct connection, you can change buses or rent a car in Vermont to get around. Bolton Valley resort has beginner runs (34%) and intermediate runs (38%), with some advanced runs (23%), but very little expert runs (6%), making it a family-friendly and laid-back ski destination for an average American. Like so many other New England ski areas, the average annual snowfall is 300 inches. The Bolton Valley Resort offers 64 trails accessed with 6 lifts, as well as night skiing.
One-day lift ticket cost (adults): $69 (midweek and non-peak; $59 on weekend and non-peak)
Lift tickets (children): free
Ski area: 165 acres
Tips on how to save: get the most out of your time on the mountain and save money by making your lunch sandwiches and taking them with you — this is a great money-saver if you have a family to feed.
Now that you know the most affordable ski resorts with the best deals on lift tickets, lodging, and overall value in the United States, it is time to look to decide between these budget US ski destinations. Book your accommodation without breaking the bank on CuddlyNest.
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Here are some curated readings for you:
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