8 of the Most Affordable Ski Resorts in North America

You’ve probably still got time off this winter, and you might not want to empty out your savings on something extravagant at the moment. You might be scanning for travel deals to places that offer excellent skiing conditions.

Well, fear not, because even a wonderful ski vacation can be done on the cheap if you know where to look.

Here are 8 ski resorts to consider for a North American winter holiday that won’t break the bank:

1 – Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, Utah

Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort

Recommended as one of the best ski resorts for families in North America, Snowbird offers terrain for all categories of skiers. There are 89 runs, 1 tram, 4 quads and 6 doubles. Snowbird is one of the few resorts to be open all year round, though ski runs are usually closed for the much of the actual summer.

The all day adult pass costs $62 (early price) and the kids under 6 years old can ski for free. There are plenty of multi day passes available as well.

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Within the resort there are five places to stay, all offering great facilities such as outdoor heated pool, restaurant, fitness rooms and more. The prices average $120 per night per room within the resort.

Getting there: Snowbird Ski Resort is only 30 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah, so it’s quite easy to reach and flights are often cheap.

>> Find flights to Salt Lake City or book a hotel in Salt Lake City

2 – London Ski Club at Boler Mountain, Ontario, Canada

Boler Mountain (AKA Boler Hill)

Compared to other resorts in North America, LSC is tiny but it’s also one of the cheapest. The resort started to operate in 1949 as a not-for-profit skiing location, and that definitely explains the prices. Over the years, the resort expanded but is still small. There are 10 runs, 3 parks and 4 lifts. There is a ski school within the resort as well.

The daily lift ticket costs C$37 for an adult and C$31 for junior. You cannot stay over night within the resort but there are plenty of places to stay in the cities located within short distance of the mountain. Prices average C$115 per night per room in 2-3 star hotels or inns.

Getting there: Boler Mountain is midway between Detroit and Toronto, and about 120 miles from either.

3 – Copper Mountain, Colorado

Copper Mountain Ski Resort

If you are planning a ski vacation rather than just a day or weekend on the slopes, then Copper Mountain is a great place to head. It might seem a bit expensive at first sight, but the packages and special deals available always cut costs.

The resort is enormous and offers 21 easy runs, 25 intermediate runs and 54 advanced runs. There are 23 lifts. Snowboarding, ice-skating and snow-shoeing can also be practiced within the resort.

Only multi day lift tickets can be purchased (online). During the regular season a 3-day ticket costs $204.

Special accommodation rates are available. For example, in early December you can pay as little as $30 per person per night in a hotel located within the resort. Packages that include daily lift tickets are also available and rates start at $77 per person per night.

Getting there: Copper Mountain Resort is located about 75 miles west of Denver, making it another that is easy to reach paired with an affordable flight.

>> Find flights to Denver

4 – Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California

Squaw Valley Resort

Squaw Valley is another ski resort suitable for longer vacations. Thanks to the deals offered, staying for couple of days here won’t break your budget. This major resort located at the north end of Lake Tahoe offers varied terrain for all categories of skiers, although the intermediate and advanced skiers will be more pleased. There are 20 easy runs, 63 intermediate runs and 29 difficult runs. There are 107 lifts available.

If you plan to learn how to ski, take advantage of the special early-season package: $113 per person per night and includes two nights lodging, two days of skiing and one free lesson.

Otherwise, you can create your own ski package. There’s lodging available at prices starting from $65 per night (outside the resort). And a lift ticket for two consecutive days costs $134 for an adult (outside the Christmas holiday season).

Getting there: Squaw Valley Ski Resort is located just northwest of Lake Tahoe, and is a short drive from either the Lake Tahoe Airport, or the airport in Reno, Nevada.

>> Find flights to Reno

5. Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Lake Louise Ski AreaOne of the largest ski areas in all of North America, Lake Louise offers 4,200 skiable acres and 139 runs. There are plenty of gentle slopes, which make the area perfect for families and beginners. The ski season opens early each year and in mid-winter the temperatures can get downright frigid, so pack accordingly. However, if you want to experience five-star facilities at three-star prices, this is the place to come.

Hurry up and benefit from the early season prices. Discounts and special prices are also available for the Louise Card holders and those who have a season ski pass.

Château Lake Louise is huge and there are other places to stay as well. Expect to pay an average of C$125 per night in an inn located rather close to the ski area. The most affordable rooms are to be found in lodges and inns.

Getting there: The Lake Louise Ski Area is located in Banff National Park in Alberta, and is about 120 miles northwest of Calgary.

>> Search Alberta hotels

6 – Whitefish Mountain Resort at Big Mountain, Montana

Whitefish Mountain Resort

If you are looking for a place that is not crowded – except on holidays – and where you can ski at affordable prices, then head to Montana. The majority of runs are for intermediate (50%) and advanced (30%) skiers but the beginners can also enjoy a day skiing here. There are 3,000 acres of skiable terrain and 94 trails.

Special packages are available, which really makes a vacation affordable. The “$70 Hibernation House Ski and Stay” package is excellent if you want to ski during the weekdays. The price is per person per day and includes lodging and lift tickets. The minimum stay is 2 nights. The package is valid during the entire season.

Otherwise, if you prefer to create your own ski package, the lift ticket costs $61 for an adult for a day. The lodging prices within the resort start at $175 per night for apartments.

Getting there: Whitefish Mountain Resort isn’t near anything you’ve probably ever heard of, but it’s only about 20 miles from Glacier Park International Airport, which has good regional service. You can also reach the resort by train, as the Empire Builder Amtrak route between Seattle and Chicago stops just minutes from the resort.

7 – Red Mountain Resort

Red Mountain Resort

Red Mountain Resort is Canada’s oldest ski resort, located at just 10 min drive from the US/Canadian border. There are more than 1,585 skiable acres, 83 runs and 6 lifts. The resort is suitable for all categories of skiers. Although having a reputation of a difficult mountain, there are enough wide spaces for the beginners as well.

The resort opens on December 5, for the regular season. There are discounts available for the multi-day passes. A daily pass costs C$59 for an adult and C$30 for junior (7-12 years old).

There are four places to stay within the resort. The weekly winter rates range between C$325 and C$550 depending on where you choose to stay. Special offers are also available.

Getting there: The Red Mountain Resort is just over the US border into Canada, but it’s still around 400 miles from either Vancouver, BC, or Seattle. It’s only about 130 miles north of Spokane.

8 – Bear Mountain, California

Bear Mountain Resort

Spreading over four mountain peaks, Bear Mountain ski resort is a favorite location to go for all those located within driving distance, which is nearly everyone living in Southern California. There are a total of 749 skiable acres, 12 lifts and terrain for all categories of skiers, although the intermediate ones will be most pleased. Night skiing is permitted over the weekend and holidays.

The resort usually opens in mid or late November. The regular season daily ticket (during the day) costs $53 for an adult (22+), $43 for a young adult (13-21) and $20 for a child (over 7). Children under 6 years old ski for free. The holidays and peak weekend rates are a bit higher.

There aren’t any hotels or inns within the resort but there are plenty of places to stay within short distance. Prices average $125 per night per room.

Getting there: Bear Mountain is near Big Bear Lake, just above San Bernardino, California. It’s about 100 miles from Los Angeles, and about 150 miles from San Diego, so in typical traffic conditions you can be there in under 8 hours from either city.

>> Book flights to Los Angeles

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Older comments on 8 of the Most Affordable Ski Resorts in North America

Leilani Gibson
04 June 2009

good info. thanks!

03 April 2010

i have visited this place Squaw Valley ski resort is located in Olympic Valley, Placer County, California, United States and is one of the largest ski resorts in the country. The resort, which was opened in 1949 and played host to the 1960 Winter Olympics and events of the World Cup tour in 1969, is the second largest ski area at Lake Tahoe region (Heavenly being the largest). The high degree of popularity of the resort is reflected from the fact that the resort attracts 6,00,000 skiers every year. Tahoe City, Truckee and Reno are the nearest cities to Squaw Valley.

26 April 2010

Great article, makes me want to go back to whitefish bt train this time