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The worst possible deal on lift tickets is the one you’re going to get strolling up to the ticket window minutes before first chair. Don’t be that mountain newbie. Instead, do five minutes of research with your ski dates in mind and save big bucks on your next winter adventure.

Liftopia.com

I’m not going to bury the lede here. If you haven’t heard of Liftopia, it’s going to blow your powder-lovin’ mind. This is the No. 1 best way to score discounts on the lift line. Most US mountains and many mountains all across the world (Austria, Chile, Japan) participate in Liftopia deals. Of course, the earlier you know your ski dates the more you save, as the best rates sell out — and multiple-day lift tickets often result in deeper discounts. Can’t decide where to ski on your next Utah getaway? Use Liftopia as the tiebreaker. Oh look! You can get 36% off tickets at Snowbird versus 9% at Alta. Done and done.

Retail Shops

Many ski shops and major chains offer ticket discounts. Ski Barn on the East Coast rents gear for the season with a nice little coupon book full of Northeast mountains as a bonus, and REI.com and Costco also have a great selection of discounted tickets. (At REI you can get 26% off that Snowbird ticket and an awesome 31% off an any-day lift ticket at Killington.)

Kids Ski Free

The ski resorts know the only sure way to get the next generation of skiers addicted is to make it affordable for their parents to take them in the first place. As a result, many mountains (and entire states) commit to generous free-ski and rental packages. Keystone in Colorado lets kids under 12 ski free all day, every day, as do most of the major resorts in New York for beginners and third and fourth graders (up to three lift tickets). In New Hampshire, fourth and fifth graders get a free ski deal, and in Utah it’s fifth and sixth graders. The list of free kid skiing goes on and on.

Direct

Like most other things in life, if you plan ahead — even just slightly ahead — you’ll save. Even the resort sites themselves favor a little advanced planning. A recent search surfaced 50% off at Whiteface, a solid $20 off an adult ticket for a February date at Park City and $35 off the same date at Vail.

Know before you go.

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