There is record snowfall all over the United States along with deeply discounted airfares, so it’s a fantastic time to ski or ride some of the best mountains across the U.S. Skiing and snowboarding have a rep for being expensive pursuits, but if you know where to go, you can score reasonable lift tickets, a minimum of crowds and quality powder in cool towns!
Without further ado, here are a few discount spots flying under the radar in 2016 and offering maximum fun!
Taos, New Mexico
What’s so great about Taos? A better question is what’s not to love about Taos? You get a laid-back vibe, challenging terrain, amazing ski conditions, affordable lift tickets/accommodations, and barely any crowds. We can’t figure out why it’s not more popular. Well, we can think of one thing. It’s a 3-hour drive from Albuquerque, but take it from us. It’s totally worth the drive. We promise.
Lift ticket: $86.
Sample Airfares: Flights from just under $200 round trip from LAX on American Airlines (select dates February to May) and around $200 from JFK on United Airlines.*
Bridger Bowl, Bozeman Montana
You’ll find Bridger Bowl to be a locals favorite (Montana State students make up much of the daily traffic), but with stellar conditions including great snowfall, better-than-average terrain, and a minimum of pretension, you just can’t go wrong. And Bozeman has a cool, casual après ski vibe. It’s not Aspen or Vail fancy, but you’ll love the relaxed pubs and lodges around town.
Lift ticket: You can’t get much better than $54 adult and $19 for a child ticket (age 7-12). They also give discounts for 3+ days.
Sample Airfares: From San Diego to Bozeman under $250 on Frontier, United and Alaska Airlines (select dates from February to May).*
Grand Targhee, Alta, Wyoming
Speaking of unpretentious ski towns, as an alternative to Jackson Hole, might we suggest Grand Targhee in Alta, WY. They’ve already got 23 feet of snow this season, and their family-friendly prices will make you want to scoop up grandma, grandpa, and the littlest tikes as well. Just 8 miles northwest of Grand Teton and on the doorstep of Yellowstone make this a fabulously situated spot.
Lift ticket: Adults 13-64 ($75), seniors ($53), juniors 6-12 ($32) and kids under 5 ski free.
Sample Airfares: Into Jackson Hole from (1.5 hour drive) to the resort. Round-trip flights into Jackson under $400 from Newark (select dates in February and March) on American and United Airlines.*
Crested Butte, Colorado
If we’re putting together a list of underrated ski/snowboard resorts in the country, Crested Butte is a contender. It’s also our pick for the best altitude skiing (elevation is over 12,000 feet at the summit and the base is over 9,000 feet). You get an extremely family-friendly feel from Crested Butte with the emphasis on buying local (did you think the mom and pop was dead? Well, you haven’t been to Crested Butte). If you like to avoid the big chains on your vacations, this is the ski destination for you!
Lift ticket: Adult: $69, child: $38.
Sample Airfares: Though there are now expensive connecting flights to Crested Butte from Denver, most folks still make the oh-so-scenic drive.To Denver round trip on Frontier from Phoenix, under $100 on select dates in February and March. From Dallas, flights are under $100 on Frontier, American and United Airlines (select dates in February and March).*
Squaw Alpine, Lake Tahoe, California
While the lift ticket price at the recently merged Squaw Valley and Alpine resorts in Tahoe is not the best on our list (Adults: $99), they do offer an intriguing $39 beginner ticket that is good for a more limited number of lifts. But as anyone who’s been a beginning skier/boarder knows, the basics are what you need when you’re first getting out there. For this reason, we can highly recommend Squaw Alpine as our best pick for newbies.
Sample Airfares: Chicago to Reno roundtrip from $367 on American Airlines for select dates from February to May and from Seattle to Reno for $212 round trip on United.*
Black Mountain, New Hampshire
For quintessential New England skiing, you can’t go wrong with Black Mountain. This rather well-kept secret (locals like to play their cards close to the vest), offers stellar deals ($52 a day for lift ticket and rental!) The mountain has 40 scenic runs that service novice to expert skiers and snowboarders. This might be the least showy of all the destinations on our list, but if you’re looking for some solid New England powder, you’ll get that here in spades.
Sample Airfares: Into Boston, Manchester and Burlington are around the same distance. Round-trip deals from LAX to BOS are under $200 on American for select dates in February.*
Bonus European Destination: Mt. Vogel, Slovenia
Nestled between Italy and Austria, Slovenia has established itself as an economic powerhouse in the European Union with a youthful and outdoorsy population. Basically, Slovenians grow up skiing. They have the terrain to show for it. If you travel here, you’ll find stunning terrain, English-speaking locals, and bargain basement prices. You’ll leave here planning your next vacation back.
Lift tickets: Around $30/day.
Sample Airfares: Flights into Ljubljana (the capital) start at around $600 on Air Serbia from JFK.*
Don’t forget that mid-week flights are typically cheaper for ski destinations (as are accommodations, typically) if you’re looking to save even more. And if you can forgo the more convenient (but usually more expensive) nonstops, you’ll also save more for your entertainment budget. But check out the winter airfares right now – savings galore!
*Airfares include taxes and fees and are valid as of 2/01/16 on select dates between 2/01/16 and 5/31/16. Lowest fare seats are capacity controlled and may not be available on every airline, flight, or date. Fares subject to change without notice.