Last chance this season for some ‘kids ski free’ programs
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Skiing is my family’s most expensive activity.
Thankfully, There are many ski resorts throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe where kids can ski for free, or at least for a reduced price. And many mountains and programs around the U.S. extend this discounted pricing for kids up to 12 years old.
While the ski season this year looks a lot different than most, many of the very popular ski “passport programs” designed for elementary-school-aged kids are still running this year. In fact, some have extended their registration and purchase deadlines, meaning right now is your last chance to score big discounts on your children’s lift tickets at some of the top mountains in the country.
Let’s break down some of your choices from the Northeast to New Mexico.
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There are plenty of spots in California where families can ski without breaking the bank:
Every single child 12 and under skis for free at June Mountain. There were select blackout dates in 2021, but they’ve all passed at the time of this writing. Free child and season passes have to be picked up at the June Mountain Ticket Office and can’t be purchased online.
If you have a morning flight to Squaw Valley, you can ski for free for the rest of the day. This isn’t unique to kids. All you have to do is show your same-day boarding pass (on a commercial airline) and you’ll receive a complimentary lift ticket for the rest of the day. Children 4 and under always ski for free at Squaw Valley. Right now, this deal is not available.
In addition to the one-off mountain deals listed below, if you have a fifth grader, until this season, your child can ski for free at 21 mountains throughout Colorado. The program is changing a bit for the 2020–2021 season, but it’s still a potentially great deal.
Colorado 5th- and 6th-grade passport program
This popular program’s purchase and registration deadline has been extended to Feb. 28, 2021, giving you a few extra days to lock in pricing for your kids’ lift tickets now.
For a cost of $40, a registered 5th grader can obtain three one-day child lift tickets for each of the 21 participating Colorado ski resorts. You can register online and Colorado residency is not required. These lift tickets have a few holiday blackout dates and are only valid Monday through Friday this season.
Registered 6th graders can get four one-day child lift tickets via the Colorado passport program to each of the participating resorts for a total cost of $109.
This year’s participating resorts are Arapahoe Basin, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, Cooper, Copper Mountain, Echo Mountain, Eldora, Granby Ranch, Hesperus, Howelsen Hill, Kendall Mountain, Loveland, Monarch Mountain, Powderhorn, Purgatory, Snowmass, Steamboat, Sunlight, Telluride and Winter Park.
Epic SchoolKids Colorado program
The Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack is a free program for children in kindergarten through 5th grade that provides four days of skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte. It includes one free first-timer ski or ride lesson with equipment rental.
There is no residency requirement for the Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack, but you historically do need to sign-up in person in Colorado in the fall. Note that registration for the 2020/2021 ski season has closed.
At Arapahoe Basin, children 5 and under ski free.
Four Mountain Sports is incentivizing families with kids 7 to 12 to rent ski equipment with the company by providing a free lift ticket at Aspen Snowmass valid for the entire length of your rental if lodging is booked through Stay Aspen Snowmass (minimum two-night stay). This promotion is valid through April 18, 2021. Children 6 and under traditionally ski for free here.
If your travel does take you to Aspen, here are ways to enjoy the area for less.
If you book a lodging package directly through Keystone for two or more nights, kids 12 and under ski for free. Children 4 and under traditionally ski for free at Keystone.
This “kids ski free” offer even includes the Hyatt Place Keystone, so you can use points to stay less than a mile from the mountain.
This Category 4 Hyatt hotel accepts Category 1–4 reward night certificates that you earn each year with the World of Hyatt Credit Card. If paying with points, nights start at 15,000 points, or the Points + Cash rate is 7,500 points plus $75. You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to your Hyatt account instantly on a 1:1 basis. Earn Ultimate Rewards points with cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
Families wanting to put their kids in ski school can score their child a free season pass at Loveland. Simply sign up your child for three full-day lessons (ski or snowboard) and they’ll receive a season pass after completion. This offer is valid for children between 4 and 14. Children 5 and under traditionally ski for free.
Note that the 3-Class Pass is not being offered this season due to COVID-19.
If you purchase an adult ticket for five or more days at Steamboat Springs, any child under 12 will ski for free for the same number of days. This is valid for a child skiing with a parent, grandparent or legal guardian. Only one child is allowed to ski for free per adult.
Additionally, in previous years, if you’re flying to Steamboat Springs, your entire family can ski for free either on your arrival day or departure date. If you are flying Alaska Airlines home from Steamboat Springs (HDN) airport, you’ll receive a free day of skiing on your departure date. If you are flying any other commercial airline to Steamboat Springs, you’ll receive a complimentary lift ticket to ski the evening of your arrival. However, due to COVID-19, these programs are suspended for the season.
If you happen to visit Steamboat this winter, the Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas is a great place to stay, and you can even use your annual up to 35,000-point Marriott Bonvoy reward night certificate that comes with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (capped at a 35,000-point redemption each account anniversary year).
Children 4 and under traditionally ski for free at Breckenridge.
Breckenridge also has many hotel options where you can use your points for a free stay. You can use your Hilton points at the Valdoro Mountain Lodge or the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Breckenridge and your Marriott Bonvoy points at the Residence Inn Breckenridge.
Some years, Crested Butte runs a promotion where kids 12 and under ski for free during a certain period, though it doesn’t appear to be available for this ski season. Children 4 and under typically ski for free at Crested Butte.
Children 4 and under typically ski for free at Beaver Creek.
Beaver Creek is another great option in Colorado if you’re looking to use your hotel points. There are many chain hotel options, such as the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek (from 30,000 World of Hyatt points), The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch (85,000 Bonvoy points on standard dates) and the Westin Riverfront Spa & Resort (60,000 Bonvoy points on standard dates).
Children 4 and under ski for free at Vail.
Similar to Beaver Creek, using points and miles is an excellent way to make your overall vacation even more affordable. Some popular options for points and miles enthusiasts are the Vail Marriott, Highline Vail – a DoubleTree by Hilton (between 39,000 and 80,000 Honors points) and the Grand Hyatt Vail (from 30,000 World of Hyatt points).
Purgatory is part of the Power Kids program, where kids 10 and under can get a free season pass. Other valid resorts include Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort, Arizona Snowbowl, Hesperus Ski Area, Nordic Valley Ski Resort, Brian Head Resort and Spider Mountain Bike Park.
Utah also has a fifth- and sixth-grade passport program, which you can purchase even if you’re not a resident.
Registered fifth and sixth graders receive access to 15 resorts throughout the state, including Alta Ski Area, Brighton Resort, Beaver Mountain, Brian Head Resort, Cherry Peak Resort, Deer Valley Resort, Eagle Point, Nordic Valley Resort, Park City Mountain, Powder Mountain, Snowbasin Resort, Snowbird, Solitude, Sundance Resort and Woodward Park City.
Fifth graders usually receive three passes to each resort, while sixth graders receive only one pass to each resort for the season.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can expect to notice blackout dates on holidays and/or weekends.
Two children 10 and under usually ski for free at Brighton with the purchase of one adult ticket.
Children 6 and under ski for free at Snowbasin.
Children 6 and under ski for free at Snowbird with the purchase of an adult ticket.
Children 4 and under ski for free at Solitude with the purchase of an adult ticket.
Children 6 and under ski for free at Powder Mountain with the purchase of an adult ticket.
Children 5 and under ski for free at Sundance.
Related: Review of the St. Regis Deer Valley
For just $18 for the season, Idaho’s fifth- and sixth-grade passport offers fifth-graders three free days at each of the 18 mountains (total of 54 days of skiing) and sixth graders two free days at only 17 mountains (total of 34 days of skiing). There’s no residency restriction for this deal, though due to the pandemic there are restrictions on weekends, holidays and other busy ski days during the season.
Participating mountains include Bald Mountain, Bogus Basin, Brundage Mountain, Cottonwood Butte, Grand Targhee, Kelly Canyon, Little Ski Hill, Lookout Pass, Lost Trail, Magic Mountain, Pebble Creek, Pomerelle (fifth grade only), Schweitzer, Silver Mountain, Snowhaven, Soldier Mountain, Sun Valley and Tamarack.
If you’re flying Alaska Airlines into Spokane Airport, your entire family can ski for free. Just show your Alaska Airlines boarding pass to receive a free lift ticket for the same day as your arrival.
When you book lodging at Sun Valley, many packages offer free skiing to kids 12 and under with the purchase of an adult ski ticket. Children 4 and under always ski for free.
The Washington State passport program for fifth graders costs $20 and is available this season, though they are subject to restrictions on usage based on capacity constraints at specific resorts throughout the area.
It usually includes access to six different mountains throughout Idaho and Washington State, including 49 Degrees North, Lookout Pass, Mount Spokane, Silver Mountain, Brundage Mountain and Loup Loup. The pass allows you to ski up to three days at each of the participating resorts. The Idaho pass includes a different set of mountains; get both passes if you wish to explore more slopes.
Everyone thinks of Jackson Hole when it comes to skiing Wyoming and with good reason. Here’s the deal for families headed in that direction.
Last year, Jackson Hole ran a promotion through which if you stayed at any Jackson Hole Resort lodging for four nights or more, kids 14 and under could borrow equipment and ski for free with any paid adult ticket. That promotion is not running this year, though you can check the latest offers at Jackson Hole here. Children 5 and under always ski for free with a Jcard purchase, which comes with a one-time $5 fee.
If you prefer to use hotel points for your stay, the SpringHill Suites Jackson Hole is a good option that costs 50,000 points per night on standard dates.
For families visiting Oregon, Mt. Bachelor is the place to visit for free kid skiing.
Children 5 and under always ski for free at Mt. Bachelor, though they require physical lift tickets, which can be picked up at any ticket window on the day you want to ski.
Maine offers a few options for your kids to ski for free. While many mountains have their own programs, the Winter Kids app will offer many discounts (and even free skiing programs) on skiing as well as other activities throughout the state. This membership typically costs $35, but for this year only they are offering a “pay what you can” program. Some discounts include: Free junior night skiing ticket (and half price for the rest of the family) at Sunday River and free junior lift ticket with a paying adult at Lost Valley Ski Area.
Children 5 and under ski for free at Sunday River.
Children 5 and under ski for free at Sugarloaf Mountain.
New Hampshire’s Snowsports Passport program provides your fourth or fifth-grader access to 31 different resorts once each throughout the season. However, sales of the passport have been suspended for the 2020-2021 ski season.
Bretton Woods has paused its Bretton Woods Junior Pass Partnership Program, where children 12 and under can receive a free season pass for the 2020–2021 season, though children 4 and under ski for free at Bretton Woods.
Children 5 and under always ski for free at Gunstock.
Waterville Valley Resort
Children 5 and under ski for free at Waterville Valley Resort. Additionally, Waterville just announced their 2021/2022 season pass where kids 12 and under will receive a free season pass with the purchase of an adult season pass . Best of all, if you purchase the pass now, you can ski for the rest of the 2020/2021 season for free.
Children 5 and under ski free at Cannon Mountain with a paying adult.
Children 5 and under ski for free at Loon Mountain.
Children 4 and under ski for free at Mount Sunapee.
Traditionally, Vermont also offers a fifth-grade passport. However it is not being offered this year due to the pandemic.
Kids 5 and under usually ski for free at Bromley Mountain. While this resort is only 7 miles away from the historic Equinox Resort, it left the Marriott chain earlier this month (Feb. 2021). Although you can no longer use your Marriott Bonvoy points for a free night stay, you can still use flexible reward points, such as Capital One Venture miles to wipe away the charges.
Children 6 and under ski for free at Okemo Mountain.
Children 6 and under ski for $10 per day, with tickets available at the window only.
With every five-day adult ticket purchased, a child between 7 and 12 can ski for free at Killington. Children 6 and under always ski for free.
Kids 6 and under ski for free, and tickets have to be picked up at the window.
Kids 4 and under ski for free at Stowe. And incase you find yourself visiting the resort, here is everything you need to know about Stowe. Hint: You can use your World of Hyatt points to stay at the Lodge at Spruce Peak at the base of the mountain.
Children under 46 inches tall ski for $10.
Children 5 and under ski free at Ski Apache.
Ski Santa Fe
Children 5 and under ski for $15.
Children 6 and under ski free with a paying adult.
Related: Choosing the best annual ski pass
The combination of skiing at a mountain where your kids can ski for free and using points and miles on your airfare and hotel will help your upcoming ski vacation become much more affordable. You can also use miles earned from the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Discover it Miles to pay for the rest of your family’s ski tickets and bring down the out-of-pocket total cost.
Where will your family ski this winter?
Learn more about planning for a ski trip…
- How to pack for a ski trip
- Plan a ski trip with points and miles
- Top ski schools for kids
- 5 ways to make your next ski trip better than ever
- Hotels near Ikon Ski Pass resorts you can book with points
- Best credit cards to use on ski trips
- Best ski resorts for families in North America
Additional reporting by Summer Hull
Featured image by Imgorthand/Getty Images
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