The Cost of a Family Ski Trip to Colorado

Breckenridge, Colorado.

The Park Record recently published a piece about the generation gap in skiing: fewer baby boomers are heading to the slopes, and the next generation doesn’t seem to be taking their place on the ski hill. As readers responded to the Park Record article on Facebook with their suggestions as to why we’re seeing this downward trend, the growing costs of skiing were commonly stated as a concern. It got us thinking – how much does a ski vacation actually cost? For the sake of analysis, we looked at what it might cost for a family of four to travel from outside of Colorado to Breckenridge for a Spring Break ski trip in March. Our hypothetical family is traveling from Chicago and plans to spend three days on the mountain with four nights of lodging.

TRENDING GALLERY: The Colorado Ski Resort Guide

TRAVEL: $793.60 Airfare + $253.38 Car Rental + $20 Gas = $1,066.98

According to,  the cheapest flight currently available for a family of four from March 12 to March 16 is around $200 per ticket on American Airlines out of O’Hare International Airport. With fees, the total for airfare comes to $793.60, not including checked luggage. Once the family arrives at Denver International Airport, they’ll need to get to Summit County.

RELATED: 5 Ways to Get from Denver International Airport to the Mountains!

The family will most likely rent a car, often the cheapest option for group travel around the state. This far in advance, a mountain-ready SUV from HERTZ will set the family back $208.38 for the entire week with an additional $45 for damage insurance. The small SUV option on HERTZ is likely to average 30 miles per gallon on the highway, meaning they’ll need at least 7 gallons of gas to get to Breckenridge and back to the airport, not accounting for slow travel in traffic or the mountainous terrain on the way. Current prices put gas in Colorado at above $2.50 on average, adding at least $20 to the trip.

LIFT TICKETS: $1,498.54 for two adults and two children over three days.

Now that the family has made it to Breckenridge, they’ll need to purchase lift tickets. According to Breckenridge Resort’s official website, a three-day ticket for an adult during this time period is $435. For children, a three-day ticket is $282. Altogether, for two adults and two children, lift tickets would cost $1,498.54 after tax.

SKI RENTALS: $693.11 for three days.

While cheaper options exist for rentals, such as picking them up in Denver instead of Summit County, we’re going to assume that this family wants to grab their skis at the slopes. According to, a main provider of ski rentals in Breckenridge, basic adult “sport skis” package costs $55.80 per day. Junior ski packages cost $38.70 per day. For three days of skiing, this family of four is looking at $693.11 after tacking on associated fees, damage protection, and taxes.

RELATED: How to Choose a Pair of Skis

LESSONS: $702 for individual lessons.

Assuming our friends from Chicago don’t get too much time on big mountain slopes, there’s a good chance the family would want ski lessons. Booked online, a private full-day family lesson costs $830. If the family wants to learn individually, a one-day adult lesson costs $126 and a one-day children’s lesson costs around $225, depending on age. For the sake of this piece, we’ll pick the cheapest option, splitting the family up for individual group lessons at $702.

TRENDING GALLERY: The Colorado Ski Resort Guide

LODGING: $1,620 for four nights.

The typical family of four would most likely be looking for two-room accommodations, of which Breckenridge has plenty. According to Kayak, a reasonable hotel that’s close to the slopes will cost around $405 per night, staying at the Village at Breckenridge. For four nights, that’s a total of $1,620. Keep in mind that this rate can vary depending on the booking method and price fluctuations.

FOOD: $400 for eleven meals.

Food is tricky simply because there’s so much variance in options. A family could play it cheap, making their own pasta in their hotel every night, or they could go out to eat for every meal. For the sake of this piece, we’re going to assume that the family prefers to let someone else do their cooking. According to one Fox News article, the average cost per meal out in Breckenridge is roughly $9. For a family of four, that’s $36 per meal. Assuming the family has one meal the day they arrive and the day they leave and three meals during their full days, that’s roughly $400 on food, not accounting for snacks and drinks.

Considering travel, lodging, lift tickets, rentals, lessons, and food, the total cost of a typical ski trip for a family of four to Breckenridge is…

GRAND TOTAL: $5,980.58!

According to the financial experts at Vacation Kids, a family making at least $40,000 per year that wants to take vacations should budget $2,000 to $4,000, with the higher end of that range accounting for families with more disposable income to spend. As you can see, a family vacation to Breckenridge for three days of skiing costs nearly 50% more than the maximum on that range. Does this explain why fewer younger families are hitting the slopes? Perhaps. This might cause concern for ski resorts, as fewer younger people getting to experience snow sports might mean fewer future customers due to a generation gap in adoption of skiing or snowboarding as a hobby.

TRENDING GALLERY: The Colorado Ski Resort Guide


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