Have big fun on the cheap at smaller New England ski areas like Saskadena Six in South Pomfret, Vermont.Photo Credit : Woodstock Inn & Resort
Skiing can be an expensive sport: The top price for a daily lift ticket at Vermont’s popular Stowe resort hit $219 recently, for example, and some ski areas out West are charging nearly $300 a day to hit the slopes. But while walk-up prices topping $100 have become the norm at larger ski areas in New England, skiers and snowboarders can get on the snow for a fraction of that cost by being strategic about where and when they ski. Here’s how to take advantage of a blizzard of cheap skiing deals at New England ski areas:
In skiing, it’s not always “go big or go home.” New England is blessed with many smaller ski areas that offer plenty of variety and excitement for a full day on the slopes at a fraction of the cost of skiing at a large mountain resort. Even a midweek adult lift ticket is $119 at Killington in Vermont, whereas the same ticket would cost just $59 at nearby Saskadena Six, which has six lifts and 23 trails.
Ski Butternut in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, has cheap $25 lift tickets and tubing passes every non-holiday Friday, plus $40 lift tickets every non-holiday weeknight. The $74 Jiminy Savings Card at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Hancock, Massachusetts, comes with a free lift ticket plus $25 off weeknight non-holiday lift tickets and Twilight ski tickets. You can ski all day, any weekday, at Otis Ridge in the Berkshires for just $25, or for $35 at Dartmouth Skiway in New Hampshire, which has a respectable 30 trails and more than 100 acres of skiable terrain.
Several New England ski areas keep their lifts turning after the sun sets, notably Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort and Crotched Mountain in Bennington, New Hampshire. At Crotched, regular weekend day tickets cost $94 for adults, but the Saturday Midnight Madness session—which runs from 8 p.m. to midnight—is wicked cheap at just $30. At Vermont’s Bolton Valley, tickets to ski from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. are $25 if purchased in advance.
King Pine in Madison, New Hampshire, a favorite destination for families, has $20 lift tickets on Tuesday nights beginning in January; ski and snowboard rentals are also cheap at just $20, and the same amount will also buy you two slices of pizza and a pair of draft beers at the Trail’s End Pub. The One Great Rate Saturday deal at McIntyre Ski Area in Manchester, New Hampshire, includes a 3:30 to 9 p.m. lift ticket, rentals, snow tubing, and hot cocoa for $68.
At Whaleback Mountain in Enfield, New Hampshire, you can ski the last two hours any day the mountain is open for just $22. And a nights-only season pass at Massachusetts’ Wachusett Mountain is priced at $199: a good deal for after-work skiers in the metro Boston area.
Not only are ski areas less crowded during the week, they cost less, too. Most ski areas discount their midweek tickets, and the savings can be significant: Jay Peak in Vermont, for example, knocks $16 off for midweek skiing compared to its weekend pricing. New England’s best midweek deal is at Burke Mountain: Buy a $45 midweek lift ticket at the walk-up window (not online), and you’ll get two free companion passes—that’s $15 each for three people to ski all day at the East Burke, Vermont, resort.
Elementary-school students can ski (almost) free at resorts throughout New Hampshire with the Ski NH 4th & 5th Grade Passport. The passport can be used by residents and non-residents alike; the only cost is a $59 processing fee. Asimilar passport program in Vermont allows fifth graders up to 90 days of skiing for just a $30 application fee. Maine’s $40 Winter Kids app opens the door to a variety of discounts and deals including free ski days.
Most New England ski resorts also offer free or heavily discounted skiing for the youngest and oldest skiers. At New Hampshire’s Gunstock Mountain Resort, both kids ages 6 and under and seniors ages 70 and up ski free all season during the week (or for $49 weekends). At Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire, guests 65 and older ski free on weekdays.
Business at New England ski areas tends to slow down as the weather warms up, so many resorts offer discounts to encourage late-season skiing. The $249 “Rest of Season” pass at Wachusett Mountain in Massachusetts goes on sale in mid-February and is good until the resort shuts down, usually in mid-April. Smugglers’ Notch in Vermont knocks $30 off its regular $95 lift tickets when you ski before December 15 or after March 31 (spring is the better time to go since there’s usually more snow).
You can’t run a ski resort without skiers, so many resorts go out of their way to make learning to ski or snowboard as cost-effective as possible. At Middlebury Snow Bowl in Vermont, use of the magic carpet lift in the beginners’ area is always free. For $249, Mt. Abram in Greenwood, Maine, gives new skiers and snowboarders three group beginner lessons (including equipment rentals) and a free season pass (again, with rentals) once they complete their lessons. The 1st Time to Life Timer deal at Sugarbush Resort in Vermont has a higher upfront cost—$606—but includes a three-day lesson package, rentals, lift tickets, and a Sugarbush Premium Season Pass.
It’s nice to be kind to your neighbors, and many ski areas show love to New England locals by offering special discounts to in-state skiers. Almost every Sunday, for example, Bretton Woods in New Hampshire offers residents of Coos, Grafton, Belknap, Carroll, Oxford, Essex, and Caledonia Counties alpine lift tickets for just $40. Cannon Mountain extends its $45 deal on Wednesdays to every resident of the Granite State, and Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway has $65 lift tickets for New Hampshire residents on select Sundays.
Buying a season pass can also make skiing a better financial proposition, but it largely depends on how often you ski. For example, the multi-resort Ikon Pass offers unlimited skiing at resorts around the world, including Killington, Loon, and Sunday River in New England. But it can cost more than $1,000 per season, so you’d have to ski a dozen times or more to truly get the per-visit cost down to a wallet-friendly range. On the other hand, the top iteration of the Indy Pass, which provides two ski visits each to 20 New England ski resorts, is $499. If you ski 10 times a season, that works out to less than $50 per visit.
Know of a great deal on skiing in New England? Tell us about it below.