Ski For Less: Family Skiing on a Budget
Let’s be real: hitting the slopes for a weekend of skiing or snowboarding is going to cost a chunk of change, especially with kids in the mix, but it doesn’t have to break the bank! Savvy families on the lookout for an affordable ski trip might consider one of the options listed below, all of which include lower lift prices than the mega resorts, free parking, and free skiing for kids age five and under.
Not a fan of bumper to bumper traffic? I-70 road rage is but a distant memory as you drive to Monarch Mountain, situated 20 miles west of Salida. If your family is seeking an affordable adventure that truly feels like a getaway, then Monarch is for you. Thanks to the 350+ inches of snow it receives annually, Monarch proudly states that its “flakes aren’t fake!” With 53 runs, 5 chairlifts, 2 terrain parks, and a ski school, this midsized resort has something for everyone.
Why parents love it:
The single base area means all runs start and return at the same place, so it’s much easier to keep tabs on kids without stifling their independence. Children under six ski free, childcare is available, and a plethora of lesson options exist for newbies or those looking to brush up their skills.
Where to get gear off-site:
Visit Mt. Shavano Ski and Snowboard Shop, 11 miles east of Monarch Mountain, for additional savings and selection on rentals.
Where to sleep:
Affordable family lodging can be found a short drive away for less than $100 per night, notably at The Inn at Tomichi Village in Gunnison or at The Simple Lodge & Hostel in Salida. Visit SkiMonarch.com/Lodging for more accommodation ideas and discount codes offered by Monarch Mountain.
Cooper may be one of the little guys, but its 39 varied trails offer the softest snow around. In fact, this ski resort prides itself on going the extra mile, from the way the snow is groomed to the very low ticket prices. Roots run deep at Cooper; the original ski area opened in 1941 and it served as a training area for the 10th Mountain Division during the Second World War.
Why parents love it: The old school ski vibe, the affordability, and the lack of lift lines make the down to earth atmosphere at Cooper Contagious and have families returning season after season.
Where to get gear off-site: It doesn’t get more authentic than Bill’s Ski Rentals in Leadville. Established in 1945, Bill’s will set up your family with quality gear. Don’t forget to ask about discounted lift tickets while you’re there!
Where to sleep: Book early to reserve a room under $100 in Leadville at the Alps Motel or at the Rodeway Inn.
A great way to save on a family ski outing is to take advantage of the early or late season at Arapahoe Basin! A-Basin’s extended season is due to its mostly north-facing slopes and high elevation. With its summit at 13,050 feet, A-Basin is among the highest skiable terrain in North America.
Why parents love it: The no-frills, just-come-and-relax atmosphere, combined with the ability to drive right up to the base and park, means families can be found tackling the slopes or grilling burgers in the parking lot. With two Beginner ski areas, two magic carpets, a Kids Center for lessons takers, and plenty of challenging terrain, A-Basin welcomes the entire family.
Where to get gear off-site:
Take a short drive over to Silverthorne to snag some affordable skis and boards for the kids at Blue Valley Ski
& Board Rentals.
Where to sleep: Head west to the Super 8 in Dillon or east to America’s Best Value Inn Georgetown Lodge for
reasonably priced lodging.
As a family-owned resort, Granby Ranch conceived skiing and snowboarding with families in mind. Over 70% of the runs are rated beginner or intermediate, making it an ideal place to learn to ski. With a progressive terrain park and night skiing, Granby Ranch goes beyond the expectations of a little ski area.
Why parents love it: As a safe and uncrowded learning environment with signature, wide-open terrain, Granby Ranch’s single base area allows parents to keep an eye on more autonomous kiddos.
Where to get gear:
off-site: On your drive up US-40 W to Granby, consider making a pit stop in Winter Park to pick up rental equipment at Ski Broker Ski & Board Rental.
Where to sleep: Stay in the quiet town of Granby at the Trail Riders Hotel. Alternatively, make the short drive west to the Canyon Motel in Hot Sulphur Springs or drop down to the Valley Hi Motel in Winter Park.
In summary, deal hunting goes a long way when it comes to an affordable family ski weekend. A few additional money saving tips for families include: buy a Colorado Gems Card. Spend $25 to get two 2-for-1 lift tickets or two 30% discounts at each of the resorts listed above. Visit ColoradoSki.com/Gems for more information. Sign your fifth and sixth graders up for a passport. Head to ColoradoSki.com/Passport before the end of January to register your kids for free or deeply discounted skiing and snowboarding! Fifth graders get three free days at each of the 21 included resorts, and sixth graders are entitled to four days of skiing at each of the 21 resorts for $125. Also, book your trip in advance and bring your own lunch and snacks for even bigger savings!