We set out to write an article chock full of amazing ski and snowboard bargains in the State of Washington so you could save a bunch of money this winter. But we were astonished to find that the deals are few and far between. Given the economy, the bummer December weather and tales of hard times in the mountains, you would expect that resorts would almost be giving lift tickets away just to get you on the hill in a happy mood.
While lift ticket prices didn’t go up much this season, they’re still full price in most cases. And often you have to buy costly season tickets to get trade-off bargains at sister ski areas.
But don’t despair—careful sifting found some money-saving opportunities, detailed below.
Washington’s only destination Alpine ski resort is next to Mt. Rainier National Park, a 105-minute drive from Seattle. The on-mountain condos, lodges and restaurants delight local skiers who would otherwise have to leave the state for a ski vacation. Crystal Mountain is now owned by Boyne USA, owners of The Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington, Big Sky in Montana, Brighton in Utah, two resorts in Michigan, Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Maine, Loon Mountain in New Hampshire and Cypress Mountain near Vancouver, British Columbia.
Daily Lift Tickets
Lift tickets for adults are $60 per day; youths $55; juniors, $30; seniors, $35. Children 6 and under ski free, and active military get a $5 discount on tickets, equipment rentals and lesson packages by purchasing online.
You can get in on group lift ticket discounts by riding ski club buses on weekdays. Wednesdays, for example, have buses heading up from Sammamish, Bremerton, Auburn, Burien and Olympia. Check www.skicrystal.com/Plan-Your-Trip/Midweek-Bus-Groups for phone numbers.
Crystal’s Military Appreciation Ski/Snowboard Day is February 11. Lift tickets are $30 with valid military ID.
For discounted packages including lift tickets and lodging with deeper discounts for longer stays, visit www.staycrystal.com . They often have packages that include lift tickets for less than the cost of lodging alone on the weekends.
Mt. Baker holds the world record for a winter season’s snowfall of 1,140 inches. The resort’s success is due both to its location—one hour from Vancouver, British Columbia and 2.5 hours from Seattle—and its ambiance of pioneer skiing and snowboarding.
Fifth Grader Free Program
Any fifth grader enrolled in Mt. Baker’s free program is eligible for a free lift ticket any time he or she visits Mt. Baker, with two fifth graders allowed per paying adult. See www.mtbaker.us/prices/daily-lift-tickets .
Daily Lift Tickets
Mt. Baker has some of the lowest priced lift tickets in the ski industry (midweek tickets are $36 for adults). Other lift tickets for adults are $43 per day; youth, $33; seniors, $38; super seniors (70 and older), $21, and children 6 and younger and fifth graders, free.
Accommodations are available in nearby Glacier starting at $85 per night. Visit www.mtbaker.us and see travel/lodging for details.
THE SUMMIT AT SNOQUALMIE
The Summit on Snoqualmie Pass offers four separate ski areas on one ticket. Three areas are connected by trails, and the fourth, Alpental, is a mile away on another face.
A Boyne Unlimited Pass gives you unrestricted access to all Boyne ski resorts, including The Summit and Crystal Mountain.
EZ Ski/Ride 1-2-3 pass is $119. It gives you three days of skiing or riding including lessons, lift tickets and rentals.
Rental Season Pass is $99. It gets you a season-long ski or snowboard package. The first day is the only time you’ll have to stand in line.
Daily Lift Tickets
Lift tickets for adults are $52; youths, $34; children 6 and under, $10; seniors, $34; super seniors 70 and over, $10.
Although there are no on-site facilities, lodging featuring packages and discounts is available within a few miles of the ski area. Visit www.summit-at-snoqualmie.com and look for lodging.
The snow here is tough to beat. Annual average snowfall is 450 inches, providing an average snow pack of 110 inches.
With the Advantage Card, your first lift ticket is free. Then you save every time you visit: $14 off weekday and $7 off weekend lift ticket prices. Back up your Advantage Card with your credit card and get an additional $3 off each time you ski or ride Stevens. See www.stevenpass.com/Stevens/tickets-passes/stevens-advantagecard .
If you are a Whistler EDGE card holder, you get the Stevens Advantage Card discount on daily lift tickets.
Daily Lift Tickets
Lift tickets for adults are $62; youths, $38; children 6 and under, $7; seniors, $39; seniors, 70 and older, $13.
Although there are no lodging facilities at the mountain, packages and deals are available in nearby Leavenworth. Visit www.destinationcascades.com / for further details.
Near Wenatchee, Mission Ridge is one of the better race-training mountains in the West. Its location on the dry side of the Cascades means good powder snow most of the winter, augmented by a serious amount of snowmaking.
Daily Lift Tickets
Adult lift tickets are $50; young adults, $44; youths, $30; children 6 and under, $9; seniors, $32. Night skiing is $15.
Special discounts are available to military personnel, with the steepest discounts available online. Prices for military personnel ordering online are $28 for lift tickets, $56 for lift/rental, and $85 for lift/rental/lessons.
Discounts and Deals
Mission Ridge Season Pass holders get five free lift tickets at Silver Mountain located in Idaho’s panhandle.
Buy gas at participating Shell stations and get a ski free voucher good for a buy-one/get-one-free adult lift ticket to Mission Ridge (and 25 other ski resorts.)
Mission Ridge also has a 2 for 1 offer on Thursdays.
Bomber Cards, which cost $65 or 2 for $104, are another way to save. With your Bomber Card, your first lift ticket is free. After that, save $12 on every weekday lift ticket and $7 on every weekend lift ticket until March 1. Then, save $12 no matter what day.
Our sentimental favorite of any ski deal anywhere is Mission’s Three-O Club. Students in grades 6-12 with good grades (3.0 GPA and above) are eligible. Proof requires a report card and student identification. Qualifying students receive lift tickets for $25 throughout the 2008-09 season. Order on line at https://store.missionridge.com/.
Discounts and packages on lodging are available in nearby Wenatchee. Check online at www.destinationcascades.com .
In addition to these bargains, the rise in value of the U.S. dollar against the Canadian dollar has made skiing at Whistler in British Columbia more affordable. The U.S. dollar is now worth about $1.20 Canadian. A special deal is available only to residents of Canada and Washington State. They are eligible to buy the EDGE card, which can be preloaded with lift tickets for one, five or 10 days and guarantees the lowest rate on lift tickets throughout the ski season. If bought by Feb. 13, the cost is CDN $69 for one day or CDN $319 for five days. (Those prices translate to $58 and $266 in U.S. currency.) After that, a CDN$76 EDGE Card (first day included), will provide daily adult lift tickets for CDN$70 through April 12, and CDN$49 from April 13 through June 14. For more information, visit www.whistlerblackcomb.com/tickets/edge/index.htm. There are also some “third night free” deals for lodging available at Whistler.
Steve Giordano and Lynn Rosen are writers and editors for the website skisnowboard.com and the annual guidebook Ski/Snowboard America.