There is practically no way to slice it. Skiing is expensive no matter where you are. Colorado especially can be a budget buster when you factor in lodging, transportation, gear rentals and lift tickets. But — here’s some insider knowledge — if you want to ski in Colorado this winter, you don’t have blow your budget to have a little fun in the snow. We’ve rounded up some of the best hacks for skiing in Colorado on a budget.

Fly into Denver and Take a Ski Shuttle or the Ski Train

Flying into Denver for your Colorado ski vacation is generally much more cost effective than trying to fly into mountain town airports. Thanks to Denver’s close proximity to the mountains, the trip by way of a shuttle or the ski train is not that lengthy. Rather than renting a car, you can save by booking a ski shuttle from Denver International Airport. Several companies can take you to the major ski resorts for around $60 per passengers sometimes less the more people you book together. If you are looking to ski from downtown Denver, you can hop aboard the newly reopened Winter Park Express via Amtrak. The historic ski train runs from Denver’s Union Station on Saturdays and Sundays to Winter Park Resort from $39 to $59 per person one way. You don’t have to deal with traffic or wintry roads with this option.

train at the railway station in the winter

Don’t Plan Your Colorado Ski Vacation Over Major Holidays

As any native Coloradan knows, you don’t want to ski over major holidays. Skiing around Christmas and spring break isn’t just annoying with over-crowded runs but they are also more expensive times to ski. Lodging prices can skyrocket during these periods. You’ll pay a premium for lackluster budget hotel rooms if you ski during the holidays in Colorado.

Buy Discounted Lift Tickets at Local Grocery Stores, Ski Shops and Online

If you don’t live in Colorado, the last place you would probably think to find discounted lift tickets is the grocery store. However local chains like King Soopers offer discounted lift tickets at their customer service desks. These can be great for last minute ski trip deals. If you have a bit more time, you can purchase discounted lift tickets online from sites like Liftopia. You’ll often save a nice chunk of change by not buying your tickets at the mountain resort. Local ski shops like Christy Sports also sell lift tickets at discounted prices.

young american girl snowboarding in Idaho with snowfall

Avoid Day Passes on Lift Tickets

When you are buying lift tickets in Colorado, you might only need a day pass for the time you have to ski. However, resist buying the day pass. While you might think it is a better deal to only pay for what you need, they are generally much more expensive than multi-day passes or a pack of lift tickets. Rather than picking up lift tickets each day, save yourself some cash by going with a multi-day pass instead.

Rent Equipment at Ski Shops Outside the Resorts or Online in Advance

If you don’t have equipment to ski in Colorado, your funds can quickly deplete when you head to the mountain resort to rent equipment. You’ll save a great deal if you rent at a ski shop outside the resorts. If you are a planner, you can also reserve equipment online at some Colorado ski resorts for discounted rates. Passing through Denver? Rent your skis there and then head up to the slopes. Ski rentals in Denver are almost always much cheaper than up in the mountains.

A row of rental ski boots

Resist The Mid-Mountain Restaurant in Between Runs

Eating in between runs on the mountain resort in Colorado will break your budget with generally sub-par cuisine. If you’re skiing all day, hit up a grocery store in the morning and pack a lunch instead. You’ll save both a large sum of money  and probably a bad stomachache from that $20 cheeseburger on the mountain. If you’re skiing at Vail, they offer decks and grills on the mountain. These complimentary gas grills are open to the public on so that you can grill up lunch or an early dinner with compelling mountain views.

Have you skied in Colorado? Share your own budget hacks for skiing in the Rockies with us in the comments below.

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About The Author

Suzy Guese

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at http://suzyguese.com.