At their most elemental, skiing and snowboarding are all about having fun.
A reality of having this fun, however, is that it can cost money.
Pioneering ski filmmaker Warren Miller famously put it this way, “The family that skis together, goes broke together.”
But, It doesn’t have to be this way.
Tip #1: Rent Before You Buy
Before you can ski or ride, you must look the part and that means gathering together a lot of stuff. While there are some items you should definitely buy new (a well-fitting helmet and goggles come to mind), here are some tips for saving money on some of the others.
Depending upon how frequently you plan to ski or ride, renting equipment can be more economical than buying. Renting has several advantages. The upfront cost is low. Gear from a good rental shop is well-maintained. Plus, there’s no long-term commitment. Renting allows you try skiing and riding, learn new skills and save for new gear in the future.
Keep in mind daily rentals can sometimes mean being required to stand in long lines first thing in the morning.
Season Rentals Make it Easy
Season rentals are great deal for kids and adults, especially when you factor in free mid-season tune-ups and the ability to switch out gear if your kids outgrow it or decide to switch from snowboarding to skiing midseason.
If You Want to Buy
As for buying used gear at a ski swap or online, be aware that all ski and snowboard gear wears out over time.
Skis and boards that have been tuned frequently may not have much edge left, meaning they can’t be tuned again. Bindings that are old may be non-indemnified, meaning ski shops won’t touch them.
And then there’s wear and tear. Heavily used boots can be packed out, while skis and snowboards can lose their responsiveness over time.
If you’re ready to buy, check out deals on last season’s models and new gear or watch for sales, especially in spring and fall.
Tip #2: Never Pay Full Price for Lift Tickets
Just as daily rentals are a grind, so to the daily lift ticket. Be assured, if you walk up to a ticket window, you’re probably paying too much.
Do some planning this fall and decide where you and your family want to ski. Visit resort websites and find the best deals. Many resorts offer 3, 4 and even 7 day “packs” of tickets that will save you considerable money.
Multi-mountain passes, such as MAX Pass and the Powder Alliance offer access to mountains across North America for one price. These can be good deals if you plan to do some traveling.
Christy Sport’s Powder Daze takes place late summer each year and offers ski passes to a plethora of resorts for a discounted price. The sale normally kicks off late August. While pass deals will be posted online, all guests interested in securing a pass much be present in stores to take advantage!
Season passes often save skiers and riders the most money. Many passes come with bonus days at other resorts and ski areas, as well as discounts on rentals, lessons and more.
Christy Kids Bundles
Another clever way for families with kids to save money is to purchase a Christy Kids Bundle. Christy Kids Bundles combine season equipment rentals with a season pass at one economical price.
Bundles with Copper Mountain, Monarch or Winter Park season passes are available for kids 12 and under. Loveland or Arapahoe Basin bundles are available for kids 14 and under.
5th and 6th Grade Passports
If you’ve got 5th and 6th graders your kids are eligible for the best deal in Colorado skiing, the Colorado Ski Country USA 5th and 6th Grade Passports, presented by Christy Sports.
These passes, which are free for 5th graders and just $105 for 6th graders (before November 30th) provide 3 free days at each of 22 participating Colorado resorts for 5th graders and 4 days each at these same resorts for 6th graders.
Parents wanting in on the fun should consider a $25 Colorado Ski Country USA Gem Card and can get 2 BOGO tickets or 2 30% off tickets at ten Colorado ski areas.
Tip #3: Always Come “Home” to a Kitchen
We are blessed in Colorado.
While people from other states and countries travel hundreds and thousands of miles to ski our mountains, we can drive just minutes or hours from home and enjoy some of the world’s best skiing and riding.
When it’s time for a ski vacation, staying in state and driving to the mountain easily saves thousands of dollars. Likewise, avoiding busy holiday weeks and weekends.
Another way to save money?
Book a condo or home with a kitchen. Make your own coffee. Chill your own wine and beer. Prep your own breakfast while still in your pjs. Pack your own lunch.
And while it can be nice to enjoy a dinner out, it can also be more relaxing to eat in on your own schedule without worrying about crowds and reservations.
Bonus for parents with picky kids: prepare their favorite meals, keep their favorite snacks on hand and avoid any and all whining.
About the Author:
Kristen Lummis is a freelance writer based in Colorado who focuses on family skiing and adventure. She blogs at.