With epic snow predicted for ski mountains across North America, planning a ski vacation this winter is a safe bet for a great time. It's not always a cheap experience, but whether you’re a seasoned powder hound or a casual group traveler, many ski areas and hotels are offering discounts and packages -- especially early on in the ski season. Here are a few specials that caught our eye.
2015-2016 Ski Passes & General Resources
We always recommend checking specific ski areas’ websites and social media channels for special deals, but Liftopia and Get Ski Tickets are two other good sites for discounted lift tickets. Many mountains also belong to larger ski groups that’ll offer good value passes with access to different regions. One such example is the Mountain Collective pass that gives passholders two days at 11 of North America’s best ski destinations, including Sun Valley, Jackson Hole, Taos, and Whistler Blackcomb. From $409, it's one of the best value season passes out there. For the Colorado ski areas, check out Ski Colorado for a nifty comparison of multi-mountain passes with various pricing and benefits.
In January, it’s also National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. If you’re a beginner, need a refresher course, or have the kids or grandkids in tow that month, check out related special programming and discounts, which include savings on lessons as well as lift tickets.
Ski Deals in Colorado & the Central U.S.
There are plenty of promotions in one of the country's most popular states for ski: Colorado. At Keystone Resort, get up to 30 percent off lodging on stays of three nights or more, and kids 12 and younger ski free with any stays of two nights or more. Breckenridge offers a Breck for a Buck deal, in which your fourth night is free. Copper Mountain has several specials, including half-off your second night at the lodge. Finally, Winter Park Resort offers its all-inclusive Fly & Drive packages that include airfare as well as lodging, car rentals, and lift tickets for four nights from select cities, such as $739.39 per adult from Dallas.
Purgatory Resort in Durango, CO -- which recently changed ownership and is getting $10 million for improvements -- has lots going on too. Here, pay for three nights and three lift tickets and get the fourth three, thanks to the Rocky Mountain Getaway promotion. For the early season, through this December 18, a $60 Power Card offers further savings: a free day at Purgatory ($85 value) plus discounted lift tickets at Purgatory ($60), Arizona Snowbowl ($55) in Flagstaff, and Pajarito Mountain Ski Area ($39) and Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort ($35) in New Mexico. But wait, there's more: Through December, get 25 percent off resort lodging and pay $59 instead of $85 for a full-day adult ticket.
Elsewhere in the central U.S., Wyoming’s newly renovated Snow King Hotel offers a Skier’s Dream package, which gets two adults a four-night stay, one three-day lift ticket each for Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, breakfast, and transportation to and from the Jackson Hole Airport (a $300 per person savings). Utah’s Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude ski areas have teamed up with local hotels to offer a fourth free day of skiing when three ski package days are booked. While Ski Utah's free-ski passport is for 5th and 6th grade students, the program has additional coupons that benefit accompanying adults. (Traditional seasonal passes are available, too.)
Ski Deals on the East
Skiing in West Virginia? Sure thing, at Canaan Valley Resort, just three hours from Washington, D.C. The resort just completed a $34 million, two-year renovation -- and is offering a Lift & Lodging package that includes one night's lodging and two full-day lift tickets for $128 during the week and $148 over the weekend. Over in North Carolina at Wolf Ridge Resort, buy a lift ticket for Tuesday and get a second for free. Women also ski for half-price on Wednesdays, while college students can night ski for $15 on Thursdays.
New Mexico’s Sipapu Ski and Summer Area has some of the best deals in the industry. For just a few examples: enjoy three complimentary ski lessons with the purchase of a lift ticket; on select days, get a free slope-side room when you purchase a full-price $44 lift ticket, or have a group of up to six ski for $50 total when you carpool.
Ready for even more New Mexico ski deals? Book online for the Taos Ski Area -- which has completely rebuilt its base area for the season -- and save up to 25 percent off of adult full-day tickets. El Monte Sagrado and Palacio de Marquesa hotels in Taos offer discounted pricing on a three-night stay for two and includes four lift tickets to Taos Ski Valley, while Angel Fire Resort offers a fourth night free at their lodge. For those who love apres-ski, a lift ticket gets you a 20 percent discount on entry to the soaking pools (or 20 percent off the room rate) at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa.