8 tips for cheaper skiing in Colorado

Colorful outfits at Arapahoe Basin. Photo Credit: Parker Seibold; The Gazette

Feeling low on ski money after your holiday shopping? We’re here with some tips:

1. Seek ‘gems’

Every year, trade group Colorado Ski Country celebrates some of the more low-key slopes with a pretty sweet deal. Arapahoe Basin, Loveland and Monarch Mountain are three of the 11 sites included on the Gems Card. For $30, you decide on two two-for-one lift tickets or two 30% off passes at any of the 11 ski areas.

While we’re on the topic of Colorado’s “gems,” it should go without saying that these are generally cheaper than the bigger, glossier resorts. Along with the aforementioned trio, think Leadville’s Ski Cooper, Boulder County’s Eldora Mountain Resort, Echo Mountain just west of Denver and Wolf Creek in the southern San Juans.

No matter where you go, you’ll want to book tickets online in advance. And avoid holidays.

2. Give some local love

If you lack gear, you can often find what you need in towns and cities away from resorts, too — typically at a much better rate than you’ll find at the bases.

For instance, in Colorado Springs, Colorado Kite and Ski (1820 W. Colorado Ave.) will hook you up with all you need for the day at $16.99. Rentals are also available at the Ski Shop (1422 S. Tejon St.), and while you’re there, see if you can snag a discounted lift ticket.

Similarly, you can often find cheaper used gear in these towns. In Colorado Springs, if you’re buying and you’re not particular to the latest and greatest, check out Mountain Equipment Recyclers (1024 S. Tejon St.) and Gearonimo Sports (1401 S. 8th St.). The two specialize in affordable, lightly used goods.

3. Score online and at stores

Liftopia.com is the Expedia of the skiing world. If you can commit to a flight in advance, then you can commit to a ski day in advance, right? OK, so the weather does pose an unpredictable risk. But the reward could be a ticket upwards of 75% off.

You might also consider heading over to MountainSportsClub.com. Join the club for $30 and find daily deals, including half-off lift tickets.

If you frequent King Soopers or Costco, both have been known to sell marked-down passes, as have Christy Sports and Colorado Ski & Golf.

4. Spoil the kids

If you’ve got little ones new to the sport, check before you spend on them. Many resorts offer specials.

At Loveland, for example, children between ages 6 and 14 get a season pass by completing the 3-Class Pass. At A-Basin, the same age range gets 50% off a full-day lesson. Monarch has discounts for ages 7 to 17.

And for fifth and sixth graders, definitely check out Colorado Ski Country’s passport program. Registered fifth graders get three free days at each of the 22 partner resorts — that’s up to 66 free days. For sixth graders, that’s four days at each for $110.

5. Board the Snowstang

Colorado Department of Transportation has unveiled a new steed for skiers: For weekends and most holidays between December and April, the Snowstang will shuttle from Denver’s Union Station and Federal Center to A-Basin, Loveland ($25 round trip to either) and Steamboat ($40).

You’ll save on gas money, but you’ll save even more on hassle.

Other secrets

6. If you’re a newbie, see what deals resorts are offering in January for Learn to Ski Month.

7. Wait until spring. The snow could be good, the lines could be short and costs could be down.

8. If you happen to spend $75 in Manitou Springs, take your receipts to the Chamber of Commerce (354 Manitou Ave.) and get a 40% off voucher to ski Monarch.

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