Top Cheapest Places to Ski in Colorado
Affordable Skiing in Colorado
Maybe you’re counting your pennies and can’t justify splashing out on a season pass this year, or your friends are out of buddy passes for the season. Truth is, you don’t really need a reason—skiing and snowboarding are expensive, and kudos to you for trying to save a buck while still enjoying your favorite winter sport. Besides the big ski giants like Aspen and Vail, Colorado is also home to several smaller ski resorts, and with that smaller size comes shorter lines, fewer crowds, and a much more affordable price tag. We’ve done a little digging, so you don’t have to. Check out our Colorado Ski Resort Guide for more details about all the resorts in Colorado. Here are some of the cheapest places to ski in Colorado:
Echo Mountain - Evergreen, Co
Not only is Echo Mountain resort one of the cheapest places to ski but it’s also the closest ski area to Denver. Just 36 miles from downtown Denver makes for a short, under-an-hour drive to Echo Mountain just west of Evergreen. Echo doesn’t have a vast terrain expanse, but they have a variety of beginner through expert runs and a tubing hill.
The other ski resorts close to Denver are also part of the cheapest places to ski, ride and learn.
Echo resort is Colorado’s only fully lit ski area. Plus, music is played throughout the skiable terrain. All-day adult lift tickets are $59, and kid's tickets are $42. Adult night ski passes are $35 and kid’s are $20. Plus, you will find Echo Ambassadors within the beginner area who are there to provide free ski or snowboarding instruction, tips, and ready-to-take pictures too.
Sunlight Mountain - Glenwood Springs
Sunlight resort is located on the western side of the continental divide just south of Glenwood Springs. It’s reputable as an affordable place for families to learn to ski and ride. With 75% of the terrain ideally suited for beginners.
Adult all-day lift tickets are around $75, children’s are $45, and senior’s tickets are around $62. Their prices fluctuate a bit with seasonal demand.
Loveland Ski Area - Dillon, CO
Located right off I-70 and at just over fifty miles from Denver, Loveland Ski Area is a popular ski destination for Front Range locals looking to avoid the lines and crowds of tourists at the bigger resorts. Adult lift tickets are $119 for adults, children’s tickets $40, and seniors $89. Lift ticket prices fluctuate according to seasonal demand. They also offer a half-day (4.5 hrs) lift pass starting at 11:30 am, costing $99.
Loveland is easily accessible via the I-70 corridor, both by car and by CDOT’s new Snowstang bus service, which offers discounted lift tickets with the purchase of a bus ticket, making it both a great deal and eliminating the frustration of being behind the wheel in I-70 traffic! Loveland’s easy location from the big Front Range cities of Colorado means that many people head there for day trips. Still, the nearby towns of Dillon, Silverthorne, Georgetown, and more mean there’s a lot of fun to be had in the bars, restaurants, and other businesses in the area.
Ski Cooper - Leadville, CO
Ski Cooper has the rather unfortunate coincidence of having a name that’s extremely close to Copper Mountain, a much bigger resort that’s quite close by, meaning it often gets overlooked, but for locals who love Ski Cooper, this works to their advantage in a major way. Cooper is one of Colorado's most historic ski areas and was originally used as a training site during World War II (10th Mnt. Division). Located in Leadville, the highest incorporated city in North America (at over ten thousand feet elevation), Cooper has the same incredible views and surroundings as some of the big glitzy resorts in the area and features some great, basic slopes with two lifts. There is also Chicago Ridge, a 2600-acre open powder bowl that is accessible via Snowcat for more advanced skiers. Locals mostly frequent this resort, so there is rarely a line for the lifts, and it’s a great place to bring the whole family without breaking the bank. For adults over 15, full-day lift tickets cost only $95, and kids full-day passes are only $70. They offer early discount rates for non-holiday days when purchasing online. Plus $30 Thursdays when you buy online at least 2 days in advance.
When the day is done, you’ll be able to explore Leadville, home to gorgeous Victorian architecture, an illustrious past filled with names you’ll recognize like the Unsinkable Molly Brown, Oscar Wilde, and Susan B. Anthony, and in modern day, home to plenty of great restaurants, museums, and lodging where you can warm up and spend time with your fellow ski bums.
1. Howelsen Hill Ski Area - Steamboat Springs, CO
Howelsen Hill Ski Area is North America's oldest operating ski area and one of the cheapest places to ski. For over one hundred years, Howelsen Hill has served as a great place to ski for locals and visitors alike. During that time, it has produced 89 Olympic skiers who used it as a training ground, more than any other ski area in North America. Howelsen Hill has four ski lifts and over 13 miles of Nordic ski trails combined among its 17 lift-serviced trails. The resort also has a unique selection of ski jumps, the tallest of which is nearly four hundred feet high. Lift tickets at Howelsen Hill have practically unbeatable prices; adults can ski for $30, with special deals for events like night skiing for $15, and kids and seniors cost even less. Perhaps most notable, Howelsen Hill is home to Ski Free Sunday, which is exactly as good as it sounds. Visitors can hit the slopes and the Nordic trails throughout the winter season for free on Sundays, except for days when special events are being held.
Howelsen Hill Ski Area is owned and operated by the city of Steamboat Springs, so after a fun and exhausting day of skiing, snowboarding, and heart-pumping ski jumping, be sure to check out what the city has to offer. Downtown Steamboat looks like a picturesque Wild West town, with a lot of cool architectural flair and some unique shops for antiques, sporting equipment, art, and more. To relax some of those sore muscles from a day on the slopes, also be sure to check out the Old Town Hot Springs or nearby Strawberry Hot Springs for a relaxing and restorative soak.
Not Just for the Wealthy
Skiing and snowboarding have reputations out there as being one of the most expensive sports there is. We can’t help you with the equipment—though there are plenty of great sports retailers in Colorado who can—but with the help of resorts and ski areas like the ones above, you can cross “expensive lift tickets” off the list of things holding you back. Now's the time to check out these cheapest places to ski for a truly Colorado experience.
by Emily Krempholtz