16 Top Cheap Ski Holidays in North America, 2023/24

Written by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers and Stillman Rogers
Updated Jan 2, 2024
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With lift prices at some high-profile ski resorts topping out at more than $200 a day for adults, families and skiers who are more interested in good snow than in being seen are looking for more budget-friendly mountains for their ski vacations.

If you live in a snow zone, there's a good chance that small local ski areas and cheap ski resorts are within reach and much less expensive, but many of these do not offer a wide choice of terrain or facilities for a family vacation, such as nearby lodging, dining, and off-slope activities, but are excellent choices for day skiers.

The mountains below, for the most part, offer all these ingredients for an inexpensive ski vacation, plus professional grooming and snowmaking and/or abundant natural snow. Some of these, like Utah's Solitude and Brighton, you'll have heard of; others are well-kept local secrets.

These budget-friendly ski resorts represent the best-known winter sports regions, along with a few that you might not think of first as ski destinations. All the ski resorts on this list have tickets around or under $100 for the 2023/2024 season, some much less. Many ski resorts offer discounted tickets when you buy well in advance online, some at quite a substantial saving.

Buying three-day or weekly passes, multi-mountain passes such as Epic or Ikon, and taking advantage of ski-and-stay packages can also reduce vacation costs dramatically. So can opting for off-mountain lodging at nearby budget inns.

Discover the most affordable places to ski on your next winter vacation with our list of the best cheap ski holidays in North America.

1. Whitefish Mountain, Montana

A skier carving up fresh powder on Whitefish Mountain.
A skier carving up fresh powder on Whitefish Mountain.

Despite its location only 20 miles from Glacier Park International Airport, Whitefish-and Northwest Montana are not on the radar of most skiers. That keeps its devotees happy, as well as keeping the crowds and the prices down.

Your lift ticket buys access to 3,000 acres of powder-covered terrain, which rivals any in the west. By purchasing multi-day lift tickets online, you can get up to a 25 percent discount off buying them at the ticket window.

Half the 94 runs are graded for advanced skiers and boarders, one-third for intermediates, and the rest for beginners. On-mountain lodging is plentiful, and ski-and-stay packages offer some greater values. Arrive by train to add some romance to your ski holiday - Amtrak's Empire Builder route between Seattle and Chicago stops only minutes from the mountain's resort village.

Although Big Sky gets all the attention, Whitefish Mountain is one of the best ski resorts in Montana.

Official site: https://skiwhitefish.com/

2. Bear Mountain, California

Ski slopes above the town of Big Bear
Ski slopes above the town of Big Bear

California may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of a cheap ski vacation, but you can find reasonable rates at some of the lesser-known resorts. Near San Bernardino and about 100 miles from Los Angeles, Bear Mountain is part of Big Bear Mountain Resort at Big Bear Lake. Altitudes of more than 8,000 feet give two of the mountains some of the best snow conditions and longest season in Southern California.

Ski terrain spreads across four mountains accessed by 12 lifts, so there's plenty of choice, especially for intermediate skiers (40 percent of the trails are rated for them) and freestylers, who revel in its terrain park. Trails are lighted for night skiing on weekends and holidays.

Weekday lift tickets are discounted by 20 percent if you buy more than 72 hours in advance. Although there are no on-property inns, a number are nearby.

Official site: https://www.bigbearmountainresort.com/winter

3. Brighton, Utah

Mountain peaks on a bluebird day at Brighton, Utah
Mountain peaks on a bluebird day at Brighton, Utah

One of several ski resorts near Salt Lake City and about 35 miles from Salt Lake City's airport, Brighton is known for its superb powder and for the high-speed quads that access all its terrain. But despite this and adult day tickets cheaper than its neighboring resorts, Brighton remains under the radar for many skiers who frequent Utah.

It's especially attractive for families looking for a low-cost ski vacation, as up to two children 10 years and younger ski free with a paying adult. An expected 500 inches of annual snowfall covers the 66 runs; grooming is excellent, but powder-hounds will find plenty of fresh powder on its 1,000 acres of skiable terrain.

Utah Transit Authority ski buses travel up Big Cottonwood Canyon to the mountain several times daily. The Ski City Pass is no longer available but other deals are available. A Day Ticket (7 hours) can be had for $59 (adult) or go for an All-Day Ticket for $79. A Night Ticket ($35 and 4-9pm) is available and a Learner Ticket for beginners and intermediates is good from 9am-4pm on the green and blue trails off the Majestic Lift. Brighton is a member of the Ikon Pass system.

Official site: https://www.brightonresort.com

4. Bridger Bowl, Montana

Fresh powder at Bridger Bowl
Fresh powder at Bridger Bowl

Montana offers some cheap skiing options, without sacrificing on powder and fun terrain. Known for the powder that often covers its 2,000 acres of skiable terrain, Bridger Bowl usually sees about 350 inches of snowfall a year.

Despite its $92 ($77 if you purchase online) daily lift tickets and its 20-minute drive from the college town of Bozeman, Bridger Bowl is rarely crowded, and long waits are rare at any of its eight chairlifts. For chutes, steeps, and open powder fields, not to mention spectacular views, climb to The Ridge.

Official site: https://www.bridgerbowl.com/

5. Sugar Mountain, North Carolina

Sugar Mountain
Sugar Mountain

You can find incredible value at many of North Carolina's top ski resorts. The 125 skiable acres at Sugar Mountain, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, may not seem like much compared to the Rockies, but its location in the southeast makes it a popular destination for those who prefer not to travel to New England or the west for skiing.

Sugar Mountain's elevation – the base is at 4,100 feet and the summit elevation is 5,300 feet – combined with snowmaking on 100 percent of the terrain and state-of-the-art grooming promises plenty of snow.

Half of the terrain is intermediate, with the rest split evenly between beginner and advanced. Most of the mountain is lighted for night skiing, and the resort offers ice skating, snowshoeing, and a tubing park. Weekday tickets for the 2023/2024 season are $54; weekends and holidays are $88. Rates are even cheaper for "March Madness" spring skiing after March 4. Night skiing tickets are $38 on weekdays and $50 on weekends.

You can base yourself in the town of Banner Elk, two hours from Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, and just 10 minutes from the slopes of both Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain.

Official site: http://skisugar.com/

6. Cranmore Mountain, New Hampshire

Skiing the slopes of Cranmore Mountain
Skiing the slopes of Cranmore Mountain | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers

Cranmore Mountain is not only the birthplace of sport skiing in the east, but the town of North Conway, which its slopes overlook, has been named the nation's #1 ski town. The town and mountain share a laid-back vibe that appeals to families, and a holiday here needn't break the bank.

Lift tickets for the 2023-2024 season are $119 for adults (13-64), and $89 for children 6-12 and adults 65+. There is a $20 savings for online purchases and advance two-day ticket purchases can save more.

North Conway offers plenty of lodging at all price points, including several family-oriented resorts and inns. Although the mountain doesn't look formidable and has excellent beginner and intermediate terrain on its 57 trails, there are plenty of challenges here for experts. Non-skiers will find a tubing park and Mountain Coaster, along with North Conway's Main Street shops and fabled discount shopping scene.

Official site: https://cranmore.com/

Read More: Best Ski Resorts in New Hampshire

7. Red Lodge Mountain, Montana

View from Red Lodge Mountain, Montana
View from Red Lodge Mountain, Montana | Evan Lovely / photo modified

Casual about everything but the skiing, Red Lodge Mountain is all about making the most of the experience, with uncrowded lifts and trails that cover the 1,635 acres of accessible terrain. The six chairlifts, which include a high-speed quad, access 70 runs, divided into 19 percent beginner runs, 25 percent intermediate, 36 percent advanced, and 20 percent expert.

The longest run is 2.5 miles, and riders can choose between the beginner terrain park or a separate park for intermediate and advanced.

Spend some time in the town of Red Lodge, a charming combination of Old West and 21st century.

Official site: https://www.redlodgemountain.com/

8. Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho

Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho
Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho

The largest ski resort in Idaho or Washington, Schweitzer Mountain has 2,900 acres of terrain, which includes two massive bowls and legendary tree skiing. Beyond the 95 marked trails and bowls are 200 miles of backcountry that stretches across the Idaho panhandle and into Washington.

More than 300 inches of annual snowfall keep the terrain well-covered for skiing, boarding, cross-country, and snowshoeing. Cat skiing is available to reach the remotest areas. The rustic Alpine-style village at the base has lodging, as does nearby Sandpoint.

Official site: https://www.schweitzer.com/

Read More: Best Ski Resorts in Idaho

9. Sunlight Mountain, Colorado

Sunlight Mountain
Sunlight Mountain | Photo Copyright: Visit Glenwood Springs

If you're looking for good conditions and cheap skiing in Colorado, this is the place to come. With its enviable combination of snow (an average of 250 inches a year) and sun (more than 300 sunny days annually), it's surprising that this Colorado ski resort is not crowded with skiers.

But its 730 acres of skiable terrain are uncrowded and lift line waits are almost unknown. They live up to their claim that "lift lines are not included in the skiing and snowboarding experience at Sunlight Mountain."

The recent addition of five new runs gives skiers even more room to play, and all 67 trails lead back to the lodge. Rates may vary by date in ranges of $80-$85 per day for ages13-69, children ages 6-12 $40-45, and ages 70-79 $45-$65. Budget-friendly ski/stay packages are available.

A new grab-and-go menu and additional outdoor seating means you can take full advantage of all that sunshine. There are plenty of lodging options in nearby Glenwood Springs, famous for its hot springs.

The town of Glenwood Springs makes a great base for a ski holiday. Soak in one of the hot springs after a day of skiing.

Address: Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Official site: https://sunlightmtn.com/

10. Bromont, Quebec

Bromont, Quebec
Bromont, Quebec

For an affordable family ski vacation, don't forget about Quebec, Canada. The largest of the Eastern Townships' ski resorts, covering seven sides of four mountains, Bromont offers an amazing variety of terrain in its 155 trails. One-fourth are rated for beginners, more than one-third for intermediate, and the remaining 39 percent are evenly split between single- and double-black diamonds.

A separate learning area for all ages is handy to the lodge and the green and blue trails of Mont Soleil, a nice arrangement for learners and anyone wanting to renew old skills. Buy tickets online for savings, and remember that prices are in Canadian Dollars which are at a slight discount from the US Dollar.

With a 24-hour advance purchase, an 8-hout adult ticket is $68, a half day $51; and same day tickets are $10 more. Flexible date tickets are available as well, Monday-Thursday $90, weekends and holidays $105. Other options are available online. Families or groups of friends can save even more money on the already low-priced lift tickets by buying multiple tickets at the same time.

Because its seven faces vary in direction, there is almost always good skiing somewhere on the mountain, regardless of the weather. Full resort facilities at the foot of the mountain include the luxury Hôtel Chateau Bromont.

Official site: https://www.skibromont.com/

11. Kimberley, British Columbia

Cloud-cloaked peaks at Kimberley
Cloud-cloaked peaks at Kimberley

Known for its family-friendly atmosphere and the Bavarian-like style of the town, Kimberly is blessed with the combination of perfect powder and abundant sunny days to enjoy it. Five lifts serve its 68 runs and 12 glades; one-fifth of the trails are for beginners, 42 percent for intermediates, and 38 percent for experts. The longest trail, Ridgeway, is just under four miles.

Families especially like the kids' après activities and the family skating rink, as well as the wide variety of ski-in/ski-out accommodations. Lift rates vary by day, and are date sensitive. With advance purchase adult (18-64) tickets are $109-$132, youth (13-17) are $82-104, and children 6-12 $41-44.

For an even greater saving on lift tickets, Kimberly is part of the Epic Pass, with unlimited access to 65 ski resorts in the US, Canada, and Europe for the cost of just five days' tickets.

Official site: https://skikimberley.com/

Read More: Best Ski Resorts in British Columbia

12. Solitude, Utah

Solitude ski lift
Solitude ski lift

Solitude is well named, near the end of the long Big Cottonwood Canyon and loved by local skiers bent on avoiding the more crowded mountains in Park City. Its 77 runs and three bowls cover 1,200 acres and are served by eight chairlifts.

The 500 inches of annual snow guarantee the legendary feather-light powder Utah is known for. The resort is well set up for families, with all trails converging at two base areas. One of these has on-site lodging, and the other has facilities for day skiers and boarders.

The terrain is especially heavy with intermediate and beginner runs, but experts can get plenty of challenge in the Honeycomb Canyon powder. Rates are better if you purchase ahead of time online, and can vary by date and demand. Adults ages 13-64 are $120-142; ages 5-12 $66-72.

Official site: https://www.solitudemountain.com/

13. Bolton Valley, Vermont

Bolton Valley trail
Bolton Valley trail

Its location near Burlington's airport and I-89 makes this secluded Vermont valley easy to reach, and its 71 well-groomed trails and lift ticket packs that can bring rates well below $100 a day, make it worth the trip. Better yet, if you buy tickets online, you can save up to 60 percent of the price.

Around the mountain and its compact Alpine-style village are more than 5,000 acres of undeveloped forest, and Bolton's award-winning environmental initiatives aim to keep it pristine. In addition to its trails, which are evenly split among skill levels, Bolton Valley offers more than a dozen glades, three terrain parks, and 62 miles of Nordic and backcountry trails. There is ski-in/ski-out lodging right at the base of the lifts, and a Sports Center with a heated pool, Jacuzzi, and sauna.

Weekday lift tickets are $42, and weekends are $63 to $75. During school vacation week in February lift tickets are $75 on any day. Youth and senior tickets are $40 to $55.

Official site: https://www.boltonvalley.com/

Read More: Best Ski Resorts in Vermont

14. Silverton Mountain, Colorado

Snowboarders checking the expert terrain at Silverton Mountain
Snowboarders checking the expert terrain at Silverton Mountain

Admittedly, Silverton Mountain isn't for everyone - not even for all skiers. But experts looking for perfect powder (they get about 400 inches of snow in an average year) and unique off-piste ski adventures won't find a better ski resort.

A vintage double chairlift carries skiers and boarders up the mountain, where they then hike to reach more than 18,000 acres of pristine backcountry terrain. At the bottom of the runs, an old school bus shuttles them back to the base "lodge," a tent-like hut warmed by a wood fire. Your ticket includes full avalanche gear – we never said this place was for the faint of heart.

Official site: https://silvertonmountain.com

15. Sipapu, New Mexico

Sipapu skiing
Sipapu skiing

Only 20 miles from Taos, Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort is all about families: it's been family-owned since the 1950s and has now catered to generations of kids and their parents. Plenty of slope-side lodging, a good learning program, and free season passes for those under 12 years old explain the appeal, plus the adult ticket price confirms their claim to be the best deal in the Rockies. It's also one of the best ski resorts in New Mexico.

The natural mountain terrain has something for every skill level, with one-fifth of its 41 trails for beginners, 40 percent for Intermediates, one-fourth for advanced skiers and boarders, and 15 percent for experts. Three terrain parks keep freestylers and boarders happy.

All ticket sales are electronic and in advance, with no tickets sold at the base. But you'll want to get your tickets in advance when you see the prices, which can be as low as $9 for a full-day adult ticket. Rates increase for busy days and as the date gets closer, but are still far below most resorts. Children 12 and under ski free every day, and with resort lodging you'll get two free lift tickets for a two-night stay.

Official site: https://www.sipapu.ski

16. Magic Mountain, Idaho

It may not be the biggest mountain you'll ski in the West, but with adult tickets under $50 and even less for kids, this mountain south of Boise may be the biggest bargain for great snow. Its 11 trails begin at a base elevation of 6,500 feet, where the annual snowfall is about 230 inches. The longest run is just under one mile, and four of the 11 trails are designated for experts, with steep pitches and tight turns.

On a smaller scale than many other western resorts, it nonetheless has all the facilities for great family ski experiences, with a learning program, rentals, and a tubing hill.

Official site: https://magicmountainresort.com

Read More: Best Ski Resorts in Idaho

Best Cheap Skiing for Experts

Bargain skiing for thrill-seeking skiers isn't limited to the expert runs at Whitefish, the legendary tree skiing at Schweitzer Mountain, and the 2,600 acres of powder bowls and glades at Ski Cooper. Below are some others to consider.

Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire
Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire

Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire: Some of the White Mountains' most precipitous and challenging terrain is at this state-owned mountain where Olympic Gold Medalist Bode Miller learned to ski. A bonus is riding the historic 80-passenger Aerial Tramway cable car to the 4,080-foot summit before plunging down the gnarly trails. Lift tickets are under $100; ages 6-12, $68-83. New Hampshire seniors over age 65 ski free Monday-Friday.

Official site: https://www.cannonmt.com/

Magic Mountain, Vermont: The mountain may not reach the altitude of other Vermont peaks, but the topography is more reminiscent of alpine slopes, its ridgeline plunging into deep-cut valleys with natural twists and plunges. Already with some of the steepest vertical in New England, Magic Mountain added another double-diamond expert summit trail last season, and a new East Side glade accessed by a new fixed-grip quad to the summit. The tree skiing is superb.

This season's adult lift tickets are $89 if you buy them a day in advance, $99 at the window. But advance ticketing is a good idea, as Magic Mountain limits the number of tickets issued each day. Children five and under are free.

Official site: https://magicmtn.com

Best Cheap Skiing for Families

Nearly all ski resorts have some facilities for young skiers, with conveyor belt lifts, learning programs, even supervised play centers. But some mountains combine an especially welcoming atmosphere for kids with bargain lift prices for the whole family.

Child skiing
Child skiing

Camelback Mountain, Pennsylvania: In the Poconos and easy to reach from New York City and Philadelphia, Camelback Mountain Resort has more than 30 trails for beginning and intermediate skiers and boarders, and adult lift tickets are $79-109 per day for all ages. Children five and under ski free.

There is a full range of learning options for all ages. Other family activities include snow tubing, a mountain coaster, zipline, and water park with slides and a wave pool.

Official site: https://www.skicamelback.com

Pats Peak, New Hampshire: Only 90 minutes from Boston, Pats Peak has direct bus service from the city on Saturdays during the ski season. Families appreciate the compact base area, friendly atmosphere, and reasonable prices for access to its three beginner areas, 14 novice trails, nine glades, five expert trails, and three for advanced experts. One-fifth of the terrain is for intermediates, and 100 percent of the mountain is covered by snowmaking.

The fun doesn't stop at dusk: the entire mountain is lighted for night skiing. Pat's Peak has the largest rental shop in Northern New England and a new base lodge with an elevator and stairs friendly to ski boots and little legs. Expanded outdoor seating features heaters and wind screens, as well as outside pickup for fresh-cooked foods ordered via the resort's app.

Official site: https://www.patspeak.com

Wilmot Valley, Wisconsin: Close to Chicago and Milwaukee, Wilmot Valley has 120 skiable acres with 23 trails, a progression terrain park, and a beginner area with two new surface conveyor lifts. These and new chairlifts, which increase capacity by 45 percent, are only the beginning of the improvements begun with the acquisition of Wilmot by Vail Resorts.

This also means that Wilmot is included in Vail's Epic Pass system, although daily rates remain low, at under $75 weekdays. Vail Resorts will be limiting ticket sales this season to avoid overcrowding, so to be sure of a ticket, reserve in advance. A dedicated and state-of-the-art children's ski and snowboard center has been added next to the learning terrain.

Official site: https://www.wilmotmountain.com

Map of Cheap Ski Holidays in North America

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