You may have heard that skiing is an expensive sport. How much does it cost to ski or snowboard for a day? How much does it cost to ski for a season? How much does a weekend or week ski trip cost? The really short answer is that 1 day of skiing or snowboarding will run you anywhere from $200 to $80(or less) depending on whether you need to rent skis and clothes. Being a skier can be as cheap or expensive as you want to make it. Let’s take a look at all the costs involved in skiing.
- How much does it cost to ski for a day
- How much does a ski trip cost
- Final Words
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How much does it cost to ski for a day
There are 4 things you need to go skiing for a day. You need clothing, skis, a lift ticket and most people will need to eat or drink somewhere during their day at the ski area. If you don’t have any gear or clothing and need equipment rental, a day of skiing is going to run you around $200 at the average ski resort. If you have clothing it dops to $150. If you have ski equipment it will drop to $100. If you pack a lunch it drops to the cost of a lift ticket which is around $80.
- Ski Rental equipment and helmet – $50 + $12 = $62
- Daily Lift Ticket – $80
- Clothing rental – $50
- Food – $20
- Total – $212/day
You will need skis and ski boots for your day of skiing. A helmet is a good idea too. Renting a set of skis, boots, and poles in the United States cost between $47 to $68. The average price to buy a set of ski equipment is between $600 and $1300. High performance gear costs more than beginner to intermediate ski gear.
You will want a ski helmet too. Some ski resorts include one in the cost of daily rentals. Others will rent them for an extra charge. The average cost to rent a ski helmet is $12/day. You can buy a decent ski helmet for $75.
If you are renting ski gear for more than 1 day the price goes down. You can expect to save 20-30% for getting a multi day rental.
See our article on the costs of renting vs buying skis to learn more.
To go skiing you will need a winter coat, ski pants, base layers, a sweater, ski socks, gloves, and a set of ski goggles. You can get a good beginner set of ski clothes for about $200. You can easily spend a few thousand on all high end high performance clothes.
- Goggles – $25 – $100
- Ski jackets – $80 – $150
- Ski pants – $30 – $100
- Base layers – $30 – $80
- Ski socks – $20 – $40
- Ski sweater – $20 – $100
- Total – $205 – $570
Most large ski resorts have clothing rentals available. There are online options too. Renting ski clothes will run between $30 and $100 a day. Kitlender.com is one of the more popular online ski clothing rentals.
See our article on beginner ski gear to learn how to gear up without breaking the bank.
lift tickets/season pass
Daily lift tickets can be one of the most expensive parts of skiing. The price for a lift ticket is much lower at a small local resort than it is at a large luxury ski resort out west. Daily tickets at smaller local ski resorts will run from $50 to $80. There are some places with tickets as low as $20 a day. A lift ticket at Vail resort will run you over $200.
Buying multi day lift tickets can save you some money over the daily ticket price at the ticket window. A 3 to 5 day ticket can save you 25% to 40% over buying single day tickets. Buying tickets ahead of time can also get you a decent discount over what you will pay at the ticket office.
If the weather isn’t great they may not let you exchange your pre-purchased ticket for a different day. We were at Blue Mountain, Ontario once and it was an absolute downpour raining outside. The lifts were still running so no exchanging for a different day. We found out what it was life skiing in a downpour and experience the mountain being evacuated for a thunderstorm. In most cases they will not refund you for your unused lift tickets.
Season passes are a great way to save money over buying single day ski pass. If you plan on skiing at one mountain more than a few days during the winter, a season pass can save you money. Season passes can run anywhere from $100 to $1500 depending on the size of the resort.
Another option for saving money on lift tickets is muli-resort passes such as the Epic Pass, Ikon Pass, Mountain Collective, and Indy Pass. For a single cost, you get days (sometimes a season pass) at many ski resorts around the world. A multi-resort pass can run you from $300 to $1000 depending. There are discounts for buying it in the spring and summer for the following winter.
They have also started offering smaller day count passes such as the Epic Day Pass. These are cheaper than a full Epic Pass and give you 1 to 4 days of skiing anywhere during the winter.
Another benefit of season pass and mulit-resort pass holders is that you get to skip the ticket window line and go straight to the lifts when you arrive. With standard lift tickets, you have to go buy them in the morning before you can start skiing.
If you served in the armed forces, sometimes there is a military ticket discount.
Food and drink
Skiing is exercise and if you do it for an entire day sooner or later you’re going to need to eat and drink. This is one area where almost every ski resort is guilty of gouging its guests. There are a few exceptions that have reasonably priced food in their cafeteria. For the most part, expect to pay $15 to $20 for a lunch. If you choose to eat at the mountain bar or sit down restaurant expect it to go up from there. Packing lunch is a great option to save money. You can leave it in your car, carry it in a backpack or use a locker at the base of the mountain.
Another great trick I have heard is to bring instant noodles and grab some free hot water on the mountain if you want a hot lunch but don’t want to pay for it.
It’s not that common right now for ski resorts to charge for daytime parking. It is starting to trend at larger resorts with overcrowding or parking shortages. In the future parking will become a regular charge once resorts realize they can get more money. Check with the ski resort you are going to, to see if there is a parking charge before going.
How much does a ski trip cost
If you don’t live near any mountains or you want to ski somewhere with a bit more adventure then it’s time for a ski vacation. What does a ski trip cost? Along with all the normal costs of skiing, it’s time to add in someplace to stay and transportation to get there. You may want to throw in ski rentals and lessons even if you already have your own gear and know how to ski. Let’s take a look at what this might cost.
Daily costs for a ski trip
- Accommodations – $100/night and up for 2 people
- Lift tickets – $100/day/person
- Meals & entertainment – $75/day/person
- Total – $225/day/person
Transportation costs for a ski trip
- Airfaire – $450/person
- Airport transfer – $100/person round trip
Optional daily costs
- Ski rentals – $50/day/person
- Ski lessons – $80/day/person
Finding a place to stay at the mountain can feel a bit intimidating. There are tons of options and a giant price range. Slopeside hotels at a large ski resort will cost more than a 2 star motel 10 miles from the mountain. You need to consider the total cost when choosing your place to stay for your ski holiday. That expensive slope side place may have free shuttles to the nearest airport so you don’t need a rental car. It may be walking distance to places to eat so again no rental car.
When picking out a place to stay consider how far it is from the mountain and will you need a rental car to make it work. It is a good idea to check with any hotel how far from the mountain they actually are and if there is a daily bus or shuttle to the mountain from the hotel or easy walking distance. The town of Jackson Hole has a bus system going to and from the ski resort that is very easy and convenient to use. Salt Lake City has park and rides located on the outskirts of town near roads going to the ski resorts.
Many ski resort hotels charge for parking but they don’t always publish it in their information. Don’t be surprised to show up and find out they want an extra $20-$50/day to park your car.
Eating at the mountain isn’t cheap. A place with a kitchen can save you a lot of money over eating out every night. If you have a family of 4 and have to pay $120 for dinner every night, the extra cost for a room with a kitchen makes sense.
Ski resorts have a peak ski season and off-peak season for their rates. You can get a great bargain by going during the week before and the week after high season. Whistler Blackcomb for instance has a peak season that runs until the last week of March. Prices for hotels drop by half the following week. Is the quality of skiing much different from the last week of March to the 1st week of April? No. The cost to do it drops in half.
Airbnb and VRBO are options at most ski resorts if your not a hotel fan. Communicate with the host to find out how far they are from the mountain or lifts. The listings are not always really accurate. I’m personally not a fan of Airbnb over hotels. I do like VRBO for rental homes if we are going with a large group (8 or more people).
Airfare or other transportation
If you live too far away from the large ski resort you want to visit you need to get there which means flying. There are a few select ski resorts in the United States accessible by train. Winter Park and Whitefish Montana. Other than that you are out of luck. Europe is great for travel by rail and maybe someday the US will get better. For now, flying is the way to go.
Domestic economy flights in the US run $300 to $600 depending on where you are going and when. Smaller mountain airports tend to cost more than large city airports. Sometimes you can save a few bucks flying into a larger airport a little farther away. Keep in mind that the smaller airport may have shuttles to where you are staying. The larger, father away airport may not.
If you choose to take your own skis with you, you can expect to pay a $50-$60 baggage fee each way for your ski bag. In most places, ski bags do not come out of the normal baggage claim and can take much longer. At Denver International, ski bags seem to take an hour after all the other bags are out. You will need to drag your ski bag on the bus or rental car to the ski resort. Renting skis can make life easier on a multi day ski trip. Rental boots are horrible so plan on bringing your own ski boots even if you rent skis.
Transfers from airport to the ski resort or rental car
If you fly you are going to need a way to get from the airport to the ski resort. Many airports have a shuttle or bus and avoid rental cars and winter mountain driving. The place your staying should be able to help you know if this is available or not.
If you need to get a rental car, you might want to look for a 4WD SUV. A lot of mountain access roads are not for the faint of heart. We love powder days and want to be able to get to the mountain in the snow if it happens. Renting an SUV doesn’t guarantee it will have 4WD. You need to check the car when picking it up to make sure it does. Rental cars in the US do not have snow tires even at airports that service ski resorts in the winter. If you are driving to Lake Tahoe from San Francisco, Donner Pass on Interstate 80 can be an adventure before you even get to ski.
Meals – breakfast and dinner
If you are going to a ski resort for several days you will need to eat. Ski resort town restaurants aren’t cheap. There are usually some exceptions but expect to pay at least $20 a person almost anywhere you go for dinner. Most ski resort hotels do not include free breakfast. It’s great when you can find one that does. Even if my room doesn’t have a kitchen and only a little fridge, I go to the grocery store and find things I can eat. I eat lunch earlier on the mountain (11 am right when lunch starts) before the lodge gets crowded.
No ski day is complete without a cold beverage to cool it off at the end of the day. You’ve got to brag about that waist deep powder stash you found to someone. Add a few bucks into your budget for some Apres Ski time.
Ski or snowboard lessons
If you’re at a big resort for the first time, it can take some time to learn the place and find out where all the good spots are. A good instructor can take you to them right away. Lesson groups also get to cut lift lines so you’ll get more skiing in. Advanced ski lessons can be a great way to learn a new mountain and get more skiing in.
See our article on skiing out west for the first time for some more ski trip planning ideas.
Skiing and snowboarding can be as expensive or cheap as you want them to be. It can be very affordable with used equipment and cheap local ski hills. It can be very expensive to take a 2 week trip to a place like Lake Tahoe with slope side accommodations. A little planning and buying ahead can save you money on lift tickets and accommodations. I hope you get out there and have the best winter ever.
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About the author
My name is Doug Ryan. I am an adventure sports fan and an avid skier, sailor, mountain biker who also enjoys paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and travel. I take any chance I can get to get out in the snow or water. I actively run an adventure sports meetup where I get asked many questions. I decided to start Endless Rush Outdoors as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for adventure sports their gear.