10 Super Affordable Ski Getaways
Get more snow for your hard-earned dough this winter. Alex Pasquariello tracks down the 11 most affordable ski hills in North America.
Rising 3,500 vertical feet from Lake Tahoe’s southern shore, Heavenly Ski Resort straddles the California-Nevada border with 4,800 skiable acres ranging over rocky chutes, powder bowls and wide-groomers. Get the gang together and book a package stay in one of Stateline, Nevada’s high-rise casino resorts to save scrilla over more traditional ski lodges on the Cali side. Top rated TripAdvisor properties include Harvey’s, Harrah’s, and the Hard Rock.
Salt Lake City, Utah
When it comes to touching down in ski country the most affordable flights by far are into Salt Lake City International Airport. Base yourself in the Beehive State’s capital city where easy access to four awesome Wasatch resorts is complemented by comfortable stays, scores of sophisticated restaurants and plenty of cultural attractions. Buy the Ski Salt Lake Super Pass ($316) for four lift tickets, one each for Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude, and round-trip travel to the resorts on UTA ski buses and TRAX light-rail. Check out Visit Salt Lake City for deals on ski and stay packages with the fourth-night free.
Stevens Pass, Washington
The Pacific Northwest has a secret: The best ski resorts in Oregon and Washington are super R.V. friendly, opening their parking lots to a limited number of ski bums living the dream. High in the Cascades, Stevens Pass Ski Area is all about the mountain, with 1,125 powdery acres and 2,000 vertical feet. The resort rents 70 R.V. spaces – complete with electrical hookups – for $40 per night, guaranteeing the ultimate slope-side stay. Spots go on a first come, first serve basis, so think about rolling up to Stevens Pass mid-week to get a prime spot. Après ski takes on a festive vibe with coolers, campfires and the occasional live music.
High in the Rockies at the base of the Continental Divide, Keystone Resort is the perfect affordable ski trip for adventurous families. Sprawling over 3,148 acres and six peaks, the resort has film-worthy steeps, expansive powder bowls, a rad terrain park, night skiing, and one of the best ski schools in the West. Keystone has given away 100,000 free kids lift tickets, and the resort is going Wonka the last week of January with its 100K Golden Ticket Celebration. Room rates are as low as $169 for the week, and every kid on the hill will get a chocolate bar with his lift ticket, some loaded with golden tickets worth $50 at the resort’s ski school, restaurants, and gear stores.
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Perched at 10,300 feet in Colorado’s San Juan range, Wolf Creek is a coveted notch on every true powderhound’s belt. This is frill-free skiing at its best and Colorado’s snowiest resort averaging more than 430 inches of powpow per winter, so bring your fat skis and prepare for freshies. Wolf Creek lift tickets are just $65 a pop, and nearby Pagosa Springs is a quirky stop with plenty of budget buttonholes, including High Country Lodge where cozy cabins sleeping four start at $130 per night.
Mad River Glen, Vermont
With a slogan like, "Ski It If You Can," it’s no wonder this Vermont gem is one of the most affordable ski resorts in North America. A single chair lift and 2,037 feet of vertical drop following the mountain’s natural contours define the historic hill, which has eschewed snowmaking and the trappings of resort village development to focus on skiing (and only skiing, so no snowboarders allowed). Pick up the Mad Card and get three days of skiing for $159 (about $60 per day).
Tremblant, Quebec, Canada
The Canadian Loonie has reached all time lows against the American Dollar this winter, and that means your Benjamins will go up to 30 percent farther north of the border. From the East Coast, zip up to the Quebec’s Laurentians mountains for frosty French flavor at Tremblant. Do yourself a favor and book the ski and stay package at the legendary Fairmount Tremblant; rates start at $355 CAD ⎯ $265 USD ⎯ and include lift tickets for every night booked.
Rossland, British Colombia, Canada
Set deep in the Monashee Mountains of the Kootenay Rockies, Red Resort delivers 2,877 lift-served acres, 4,200 skiable acres when you add in-bounds Cat skiing, nearly 3,00 vertical feet, and some of the best tree skiing in North America. R.E.D. has partnered with Air Canada to save you 10 percent on your flight to the Kootenays when you book your vacay through the resort. Or get to R.E.D. via Spokane, Washington, on Alaska Airlines and get one free lift ticket for each boarding pass.
Taos, New Mexico
With its high desert ecosystems and sophisticated art scene, Taos isn’t on most city slicker lists for ski vacations. However, Taos Ski Valley’s 12,000-foot Kachina Peak is a must-ski mountain for the savvy schusser craving steep terrain, affordable digs, and authentic pueblo culture. A hedge fund billionaire bought the resort a few years back and is investing millions over the next five years, with a new luxury hotel set to open next winter. Until then, pardon the resort’s dust and save a buck on lift tickets starting at $63 per day; stay in Taos for digs ranging from motels to luxe B&Bs, including the highly recommended Palacio de Marquesa.
Head north from Boston to Maine’s Carrabassett Valley and sweet savings at Sugarloaf. This 1,240-acre resort on Maine’s second highest peak has the most vertical feet in New England (2,820 ft) and the only lift-serviced above-treeline skiing on the East Coast. Book the resort’s Classic Ski Week for five nights and five lift tickets priced as low as $425 per person.
Liftopia.com If you didn’t invest in one of the multi-resort ski passes and you want to save money on your trip, Liftopia.com is your first and only destination for the best ticket prices and top resorts. The website reports that as resorts focus on advance purchases, single day adult window rates have increased 9 percent since last winter. Liftopia bundles advance-purchase lift tickets at the best rates possible and builds in shredder-friendly protections so that you can save a pre-purchased ticket for tomorrow’s powder day.