How to Ski on a Budget: Community and Independent Ski Areas


More Ski for your Buck

You’ve hit up all the local ski swaps, you’re already using hand-me-downs and you’ve asked around on the social medias for the best deals on gear and passes.  As a college student (or anyone just looking to get the most “bang for your buck”) I consider myself a master at the bargain skier way of life. What is the best way to save the pennies you ask? Knowing where to ski.

Often times, smaller, local ski areas offer great discounts to student’s, current military members, and senior citizens. Independent and community ski areas make snow sports affordable and accessible to more families and communities. For some of you, one of these areas may be your home mountain. Yay! For the rest of you, unsure where to find these ski areas? Lucky you, WinterReview is dedicated to community and independent ski areas and I have compiled this handy list of some of the best deals and discounts at small areas across the country. (Keep in mind these are just a few of MANY. )

Let’s start with our East Coast bargain skiers:

With 5 chairs accessing 1,150 vertical feet, Mt. Abram, in Greenwood, Maine has student and senior pricing that is $10 less than regular adult ticket prices. Members of the military get an even better window price!

Now head over to Union Dale, PA where Elk Mountain is located. They offer a $25 day every Wednesday to college students with a current id and a $25 senior Tuesday. With 7 chairs, and night skiing those dollars go a long way.

Now let’s check out a few in the Rockies:

In Salida CO, Monarch Mountain has an average snowfall of 350+ inches a year. Seniors get a $29 discount making a day pass $55. Super seniors ski for free. Military families, active or retired pay $50 for a day ticket.

“Summon your powder powers” at Eagle Point in Beaver, UT. With 600 skiable acres and 2 snow cats available, all of the wonder Utah has to offer is at your fingertips. Ticket prices are only $35 for adults every day of the week except Saturday when they are $50.

And what does my neck of the woods, Big Sky Country have to offer?

Just 15 miles from the town of Bozeman, MT lies the hidden gem that is Bridger Bowl. Bridger Bowl has an atmosphere that centers around skiing and having a good time. ‘Ski the Cold Smoke’ and find out for yourself. Seniors receive a day pass of $34 and active military member’s tickets are discounted to $48.

If we head three hours West we come across Snowbowl, in Missoula MT. Both seniors and students receive a discounted ticket of $44. End your day of epic turns and tree runs at “The Last Run In”, the mountain’s AWESOME bar! As an added perk to college students and commitment to the community, Snowbowl provides a free weekend shuttle that picks up at the University.

Up north, our friends in B.C. are keen on family days sponsored by local business. Phoenix Mountain Ski Area near Greenwood B.C. hosts a yearly “Family Day” with FREE skiing for everyone! You won’t find that kind of deal at a mega-resort.

West coast best coast right? Not everyone agrees? Ok let’s see if some of these places can change your mind.

Mt. Baker, in Bellingham WA has an average snowfall of 659” per year and offers 8 high speed quads. Arguably the place where you are going to get the “most bang for your buck”. Seniors are given a discounted ticket of $51 and super seniors $38.

Head south to Mt. Hood Skibowl in Government Camp, Oregon. GC provides skiers with America’s most night skiing seven days a week. Skibowl attains some of Mt. Hoods best terrain in their upper bowl. Seniors ski free. All my ladies out there, every Tuesday they offer a $24 ticket for ladies’ night.

If you’re looking for even more great deals at community and independent ski areas, check out the Mountain Playground Card. Mt Abram offers 50% off lift tickets and perhaps the best deal in all of skiing, FREE lift tickets at Bald Mountain, ID for holders of a Mountain Playground Card. That is some serious support of community skiers. But the savings don’t stop there. Mountain Playground Card holders also get 2 for 1 Lift Tickets at Phoenix Mountain on Fridays. Plus, card holders receive exclusive discounts at several other community ski areas and brand partners.

Big resorts are big fun and come with a big price tag. However, when you are trying to buy groceries and ski (in my case), choosing one of the local, independent, community or mom and pop areas is a win-win for you, your wallet, and the ski area you are skiing!


Abbi Ness is a college student and avid skier, writer and environmentalist. Help Abbi pursue her dreams and ski more by supporting WinterReview and sharing her stories: