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Skiing is by far my family’s most expensive activity. Between the lodging, the gear and the ski lift tickets, it makes Disney look cheap. My 5-year-old has gone skiing and snowboarding the past two winters, and we are now looking to get my 2-year-old on skis for the upcoming season. Fortunately, with more kids on the mountain, the total amount spent on lift tickets doesn’t need to get more expensive.
There are many ski resorts throughout the US, Canada and Europe where kids can actually ski for free. While many resorts (although not all) allow younger kids roughly 4 or 5 and under to ski for free, you might be surprised to see how many other mountains around the US give kids up to 12-years-old the opportunity to ski for free as well. Let’s break down some of your choices around the country.
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 are no blackout dates and no other requirements.
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, but doesn’t exclude them! 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.
In addition to the one-off mountain deals listed below, if you have a fifth-grader, your child can ski for free at 22 mountains throughout Colorado, including Arapahoe Basin, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, Cooper, Copper Mountain, Echo, Eldora, Granby Ranch, Hesperus, Howelsen Hill, Kendall Mountain, Loveland, Monarch Mountain, Powderhorn, Purgatory, Snowmass, Steamboat, Sunlight, Telluride, Winter Park and Wolf Creek. You’ll receive three free days at each resort, allowing you 66 days of free skiing. Sixth-graders can also grab a similar offer for $105. The fifth- and sixth-grade passport program is an amazing way to save money skiing in Colorado — and you don’t have to be a resident of the state.
If you can come in-person to Colorado in the early fall, there is also usually an Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack for kindergarten through fifth-graders that provides four days of skiing and riding at each of the state’s top-ranked resorts: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone with no residency requirement.
At Arapahoe Basin, children between 6 and 12 ski for free for two days throughout the season with no blackout dates if you register early in the season. It is too late for this year, but something to factor in next season. Children 4 and under always ski for free at A-Basin.
Four Mountain Sports is incentivizing families to rent ski equipment with them 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. This promotion doesn’t kick in until the start of 2019 and is valid through the end of the season. Children 5 and under always ski for free.
If your travel does take you to Aspen, check out these eight tips before your arrival.
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 always ski for free at Keystone.
This “kids ski free” offer even includes the Hyatt Place Keystone, so you can use hotel points to stay less than a mile from the mountain and let the kiddos ski free. A relatively new Hyatt property, this Category 4 hotel accepts Category 1–4 free night certificates that you earn each year with the World of Hyatt 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 can always ski for free.
Getting to Steamboat Springs is now easier than ever with JetBlue adding a ton of new routes to this popular ski destination. You can redeem 35,000 Marriott Rewards points to stay at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas, or use a free night certificate that comes with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, and Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card.
Plus, 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 their parent, grandparent or legal guardian. Only one child is allowed to ski for free per adult. Additionally, children 12 and under can receive a free season pass if accompanying adults who’ve purchased a Steamboat Season Pass.
Breckenridge has many hotel options where you can use your points for a free night stay. You can use your Hilton points at the Valdoro Mountain Lodge or the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Breckenridge and your Marriott Rewards points at the Residence Inn Breckenridge. Children 4 and under ski for free at Breckenridge.
At Crested Butte, all kids ages 12 and under ski for free between Nov. 22 through Dec. 13, 2018, and then again March 30 to April 7, 2019. The best part of this promotion is there are literally no strings attached. It doesn’t even require an adult to purchase a ticket. Children 4 and under can always ski for free.
Beaver Creek is a great option if you’re looking to use your hotel points as there are many chain hotel options, such as the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch and the Westin Riverfront Resort. Children 4 and under ski for free at Beaver Creek.
Utah also has a fifth- and sixth-grade passport program, which you can purchase even if you’re not a resident. For just $45, you’ll receive access to 13 resorts throughout the state, including Alta Ski Area, Brighton Resort, Beaver Mountain, Brian Head Resort, Deer Valley Resort, Eagle Point, Nordic Valley Resort, Park City Mountain, Powder Mountain, Snowbasin Resort, Snowbird, Solitude and Sundance Resort. Fifth-graders will receive three passes to each resort, while sixth-graders receive only one pass to each resort for the season.
Two children 10 and under ski for free at Brighton with the purchase of one adult ticket.
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.
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). 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. You don’t need to be an Idaho resident to purchase the passport.
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. If you’re flying Alaska Airlines into Sun Valley/Hailey 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.
A passport program for fifth-graders isn’t free, but is available for just $20. It 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 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.
If you stay at any Jackson Hole Resort lodging for four nights or more, kids 14 and under can borrow equipment and ski for free with any paid adult ticket (excluding the Dec. 20, 2018 through Jan. 4, 2019 blackout period). 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 in the area, the SpringHill Suites Jackson Hole is a good option as it only requires 35,000 points a night. Or, you can always use a 35k free night certificate that comes with one of the eligible cobranded Marriott and SPG credit cards.
Here are two solid ski-for-free options in Montana.
Children 6 and under always ski for free. Kids 12 and under ski for free for the day at Big Sky when signed up for a Mountain Village or Madison Base lesson.
Your entire family can ski for free if you’re flying Alaska Airlines into Kalispell/Glacier Park. Just show your Alaska Airlines boarding pass and you’ll receive a free lift ticket for the same day as your arrival. Children 6 and under ski for free at Whitefish Mountain.
For families in Oregon, Mount Bachelor is the place to visit for free kid skiing.
Kids 12 and under ski for free at Mount Bachelor when you purchase an adult lift ticket for three or more days. The one stipulation is that you must purchase the lift ticket online at least four days in advance. Children 5 and under always ski for free.
If you’re flying Alaska Airlines into Redmond/Bend Airport, your entire family can ski for free. Just show your Alaska Airlines boarding pass and you’ll receive a free lift ticket for the same day as your arrival.
Maine offers a few ski-for-free options.
Children 5 and under ski for free at Sugarloaf Mountain.
During select weeks in January and March, kids between 4 and 12 can ski and stay for free at Sunday River. You just need to book a ski-and-stay package with at least one adult staying three or more nights in the Grand Summit or Jordan Hotel. Children 5 and under always ski for free.
For just $30 for the season, New Hampshire’s Snowsports Passport program provides your fourth- or fifth-grader access to 34 different resorts once each throughout the season. Blackout dates include: Dec. 26, 2018–Jan. 1, 2019, Jan. 19–20, 2019, Feb. 16–18, 2019 and Feb. 23, 2019. You do not need to be a New Hampshire resident to purchase the passport.
Children 4 and under ski for free at Bretton Woods with a paying adult.
Children 5 and under always ski for free at Gunstock.
Waterville Valley Resort
Children 5 and under ski for free at Waterville Valley Resort.
Children 5 and under ski free at Cannon Mountain with a paying adult.
Children 5 and under ski for free at Loon Mountain.
Children 5 and under ski for free at Mount Sunapee.
Vermont offers a fifth-grade passport, where for only $10 for the season, fifth-graders can ski up to 88 days. You’ll receive access to the following mountains: Burke Mountain, Bromley Mountain, Bolton Valley, Killington, Jay Peak, Mad River Glen, Magic Mountain, Middlebury Snow Bowl, Mount Snow Resort, Okemo Mountain Resort, Pico Mountain, Quechee Ski Area, Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Stowe Mountain Resort, Stratton Mountain, Sugarbush Resort and Suicide Six. You’ll receive three coupons per alpine resort and either one or three coupons for Nordic centers (depends on the resort). You also don’t need to be a Vermont resident to purchase the passport.
Kids 5 and under ski for free at Bromley Mountain. This resort is also only 7 miles from the Equinox Resort, where you can use your Marriott Rewards points. The Equinox is currently the only resort in the entire Northeast where you can use your hotel points in such close proximity to a ski slope.
Children 6 and under ski for free at Okemo Mountain.
Between March 10 and 15, kids between 4 and 15 can ski for free at Mount Snow with a paid adult lift tickets (between three and five days). On all other dates, kids 6 and under ski for $10 per day.
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 4 and under ski for free. With Hyatt acquiring Two Roads Hospitality, this could possibly be the first mountain on the East Coast to have a ski-in, ski-out property where you can use hotel points. Fingers crossed that Stowe Mountain Lodge becomes part of the Hyatt family.
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 definitely help your upcoming ski vacation become much more affordable. You can also use points 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 you ski this winter?
- How to Pack for a Ski Trip
- United Airlines Discounts Ski Destinations in Early 2019
- Plan a Ski Trip With Points and Miles
- Top Ski Schools for Kids
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