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3 Tips for Colorado Skiing/Snowboarding with Your Family on a Budget 2023/2024

Posted by Sarah Steen on September 28, 2023
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picture of skiers on a ski lift with "Skiing with Your Family on a Budget"


If you live anywhere in Colorado, you know that skiing is a big part of life here every winter. Coloradans brave the traffic most weekends to get up to the mountains and onto the slopes. But it can be a challenge to afford skiing and snowboarding with a family.  15 years ago, I could get rentals, lift tickets and lodging for 4 days of skiing all for under $400 at Breckenridge. These days that wouldn’t even cover lift tickets. So how can you enjoy Colorado’s amazing ski resorts with your family (including programs for kids with disabilities) without going broke? We have 3 tips to get you started to enjoy Colorado Skiing on a budget.

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1: Do your research for lift tickets & passes

This is really where things can get expensive and a bit of research can pay off. The resorts know that if they get kids skiing early in life, they are much more likely to become adult customers who pay for those expensive season passes. Therefore, many resorts offer deeply discounted or free passes for kids.

Some of our favorite deals and resorts for families:

  • Epic School Kids Colorado Pack (FREE) Deadline to register is October 11.

    • For Colorado students kindergarten-5th
    • 4 free days at each of the following resorts: Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Vail, Keystone and Crested Butte.  That’s a total of 20 free days. Date restrictions apply.
  • Copper Mountain Four Pack:  A popular resort for families that offers a discounted rate when you buy their “Four Pack” (4 days on one pass).
  • Monarch Mountain:  A local favorite for a number of reasons: it’s an independent resort, has inexpensive tickets, it’s usually less crowded and you can avoid the traffic along the I-70 corridor where a lot of the popular resorts are.
  • Steamboat Kids Ski Free (FREE): Kids and grand-kids ski free when the parent, grandparent or legal guardian purchases a 5-or-more day adult lift ticket.
  • Half Day Passes: This is a great option for younger kids or late sleepers. You have the freedom to relax in the morning and ski for just half the day. Availability varies by resort.
  • Student Ski Passport Program: Have a kiddo in grades 3-6? It is worth checking if the Passport Program is available for your upcoming ski season: Passport holders get 4 days of skiing at 20 member ski resorts for $59 (price is subject to change).
  • Consider Smaller Ski ResortsCooper, Eldora, Echo Mountain and Ski Loveland are all great options for smaller, less crowded resorts that are usually not as expensive.
  • Younger Kiddos: many times, younger kids ski free every day depending on the resort. Sometimes this information can be difficult to find on websites so call and ask if you don’t see information about pass prices for kids under 6.

Things to consider when researching

  • Pricing is usually cheapest in the spring for the following winter and prices will usually fluctuate. Pay attention to blackout dates when buying tickets and passes.
  • Commute time to resort if you’re not planning to stay overnight.
  • Adult ticket prices. Someone needs to ski with the kids, right? Be sure to check out adult prices because they can be well over $100 per day depending on the resort.
  • Plan ahead: you might not be able to ski if you are planning to buy day tickets at the window. Vail Resorts have capped the amount of daily same day ski tickets.
  • If you or your kids need lessons, how much are they at the resorts you’re researching for passes?
  • Parking fees at the resort. Many resorts lack plentiful free parking and parking fees can add up if you are paying them several times over a season.
  • Look for lodging deals. Many resorts offer discounted or free tickets when you book lodging with them.


Ski equipment

Related Reading: 
Ski Resorts in Colorado
Tips for Hiking with Kids

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2: Buy used equipment

Be realistic here. Unless your kids are competitively skiing or snowboarding, they don’t need top of the line, brand new equipment. Kids are hard on equipment and outgrow it quickly. Consider these options for used goods:

  • Epic Mountain Gear Junior Trade Program
    • This Year: Buy ski or snowboard sets starting at $119.99 and have your kids professional fitted for the equipment. Price includes ASTM testing.
    • Next Year: Receive 50% of the original purchase price towards bigger sizes with gear trade in.
    • If your kid hits a growth spurt in the same season and needs a bigger size, you can bring your equipment in and they will swap it out for the right size for free.
  • North Springs Mamas
  • REI Garage Sales
  • Yearly end of summer ski and board salesChristy’s Powder Daze, Epic Mountain Gear’s Ski Rex Event and other local small exchange events.
  • Craig’s List, FB Marketplace, Nextdoor.com
  • The SKI Shop, has a SWAP every year with 25% of the proceeds donated to Special Olympics. Drop off your old gear, buy some new gear, get great deals and shop local

Children in ski lesson

3: Shop around for lessons

Lessons can be expensive, so be sure to shop around for the best deals that fit your needs.  Resorts offer a variety of lesson types to try to fit any budget.

  • Half Day Lessons:  A great option that could save money or be ideal for younger kids who might tire quickly.
  • Private lessons:  Yes, private lessons are very expensive. But you may get more value for your money as a private lesson will provide individualized instruction. You’ll likely see improvement much faster than with a group lesson. Depending on the situation, you may need to buy just one private lesson instead of multiple group lessons.
  • Family Lessons:  Resorts like Keystone offer family lessons for up to 6 family members or friends at a cheaper rate than the cost of 6 individual lessons.


There are number of discounts available for military. Be sure to always ask about a military discount even if it’s not advertised. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Epic Military Pass: Epic is continuing their offer of an unlimited season pass to active and retired military AND their dependents for the phenomenal price of $167 (regular price for this pass is $949). The Epic pass gives you unlimited access to Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek and many other resorts. This is a fantastic option for parents who have kids that qualify for the free Epic School Kids Pass. Prices increase October 11.
  • Copper Mountain Military Pass: Always a great choice with an steep military discount for season passes. Try to catch their Kids Ski Free promotion in the spring when they offer a free kids pass (0-12 years old) with each adult season pass.
  • Outdoor Rec: Be sure to utilize the discounted tickets and passes offered at Outdoor Recreation Centers on post. They also usually have daily and seasonal equipment rentals, great deals on clothing, and excursions to various Colorado ski resorts.
  • Lessons:  Remember to inquire about a military discount when booking lessons at resorts.  They usually don’t advertise it, but many resorts (including Keystone and Breckenridge) offer military discounts for kids’ lessons. Last year, Keystone offered a 4 pack of lessons for under $400 to military families. Keep an eye out for that deal as the ski season gets closer.

Programs for Kids with Disabilities

  • Special Olympics: If you don’t live in the mountains, seek out a Special Olympics to find a group to train with. The youngest kids in sports with Special Olympics are 8 years of age. There is assistance with ski passes, equipment and transportation. In Colorado Springs, there are multiple teams for the various categories (snowboard, skiing, etc.).
  • Programs at Ski Resorts: 

We hope this helps you save a little money while enjoying the slopes with your family this year! As always, we want to help you love where you live. Reach out to us with questions about home buyer, selling or homeownership!

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