September 12, 2007

5 Tips for Saving Money on a Colorado Ski Vacation

keystone mountain with view of breckenridge
Skiing Keystone in 2003

With the cooling temperatures, thoughts in this household turn to the coming winter. Thoughts of snow, skiing, snowboarding, and our annual road trip to Colorado's Summit County. Based on our past experiences, here are a few simple tricks to making these vacations more affordable.

1. When to go- The best prices for lift tickets and lodging will be during the early and late seasons (before Thanksgiving and the month of April). Good deals can also be found between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Possible downsides are a limited number of open runs, and the amount of snow on those runs.

Avoid the holidays (Christmas to New Years Eve, Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, President's Day weekend, Spring Break). Not only are prices higher, but it is also a lot more crowded. More people equals longer lines and wait times at the chair lift or gondola.

My favorite time to go is in January, before the holiday weekends and spring break. All the runs are open, and the snow is usually good for skiing.

2. Lodging- We like to rent a condo instead of staying in a hotel. With 3 boys, having the extra room is nice and having a kitchen saves us money on meals. We have found great deals just by searching for Summit County lodging on Google. Condos in the Keystone area seem to have the best prices, and Summit Cove has a nice site for vacation rental lodging in Keystone.

3. Lift Tickets- Discount lift tickets are available at Front Range King Soopers and Safeway grocery stores. You can also purchase them at sporting goods stores like Sports Authority. Something we haven't tried yet is buying lift tickets on eBay, but I've heard good things about the discounts you can find there.

4. Renting Equipment- If you need to rent equipment, don't wait until you get to the resort. You can save a lot of money if you rent from other places like Sports Authority in Dillon. Look online and compare prices before you leave your house. Websites like offer discounts at various ski and snowboard shops.

5. Meals- If you have a condo, eat breakfast and dinner there. You can even pack a lunch and store it in a locker at the ski resort. Buying groceries is a lot less expensive than eating at the ski resorts, especially for a family. When you are on the slopes, carry trail mix or granola bars so you aren't tempted to stop at a chalet for an expensive snack between meals.

BONUS TIP: This year, we ordered a Denver/Boulder Gold C book over the internet. The $10 price of the book was well worth it. We saved over $125 on weekend lift tickets at Copper Mountain compared to the discounted price available at King Soopers. The savings are even more if you buy weekday lift tickets.

Related articles:
Keystone and Copper Mountain Ski Resorts
Friday Photo Post: Colorado Skiing