Skiing is my family’s most expensive activity.
Thankfully, there are many ski resorts throughout the U.S. where kids can ski for free, or at least for a reduced price. Many mountains and programs around the U.S. even extend this discounted pricing to kids up to 12 years old.
Although last year’s ski programs looked quite a bit different due to COVID-19, we are starting to see things come back to normal a bit. Fortunately, many of the very popular ski “passport programs” designed for elementary-school-aged kids are running this year.
Let’s break down some of your choices across the U.S.
For more TPG travel tips and deals delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our free daily newsletter.
There are plenty of spots in California where families can ski without breaking the bank.
Every single child 12 and under skis for free at June Mountain, although there are blackout days on that promotion during the most popular times of the year. These dates include Dec. 26, 2021 — Jan. 2, 2022, Jan. 15-16, 2022 and Feb. 19-20, 2022. If your vacation overlaps with one of these dates, you can purchase a child’s ticket for $25 on these days. Free child and season passes have to be picked up at the June Mountain ticket office and can not be purchased online.
Children four and under always ski for free at Palisades Tahoe.
In the past, no matter what your age, if you had a morning flight to Palisades Tahoe, you could ski for free for the rest of the day — a promotion that isn’t unique to kids. Typically, all you have to do is show your same-day boarding pass from a commercial airline and you’ll receive a complimentary lift ticket for the rest of the day. As of now, Palisades Tahoe hasn’t announced if they will continue with this program for the 2021/2022 winter season, but hopefully skiers will know more in November.
Colorado 4th-, 5th- and 6th-grade passport program
In addition to the one-off mountain deals listed below, if you have a fourth-, fifth- or sixth-grader, your child can get a ski passport for incredibly reduced rate of just $59 for four, one-day lift tickets good for 21 mountains throughout Colorado. In fact, this promotion has even been enhanced for the 2021/2022 season with the addition of fourth-graders (up from just fifth and sixth grades in the past). You can register online and Colorado residency is not required. These lift tickets have a few holiday blackout dates (Nov. 26-27, 2021, Dec. 25, 2021 — Jan. 1, 2022, Jan. 15-16, 2022 and Feb. 19-20, 2022) and are valid seven days a week.
This year’s participating resorts are Arapahoe Basin, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, Cooper, Copper Mountain, Echo Mountain, Eldora, Granby Ranch, Hesperus Ski Area, Howelsen Hill, Kendall Mountain, Loveland, Monarch, Powderhorn, Purgatory Resort, Silverton, Snowmass, Steamboat, Sunlight, Telluride and Winter Park.
Prices are subject to change throughout the season, so if you know you’ll get some use out of this program, you should lock in the price now.
Epic SchoolKids Colorado program
The Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack is a free program for children in kindergarten through 5th grade that provides four days of skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte. It also includes one free first-timer ski or ride lesson with equipment rental.
There is no residency requirement for the Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack, but you do need to sign up in person in Colorado. There are also blackout dates which include Nov. 26-27, 2021, Dec. 26-31, 2021, Jan. 16, 2022 and Feb. 19-20, 2022.
At Arapahoe Basin, children 5 and under ski free. You’ll need to visit guest services in person with both your child and age verification to pick up this pass.
Children six and under traditionally ski for free here. at Aspen Snowmass. And now, Four Mountain Sports is incentivizing families with kids seven to 12 to rent ski equipment with the company by providing a free lift ticket at Aspen Snowmass valid for the entire length of your rental if lodging is booked through Stay Aspen Snowmass (minimum two-night stay). This promotion is valid Jan. 1 through April 17, 2022.
You also must book by the 15th of the month the month before you are arriving to take advantage of this promotion.
If your travel does take you to Aspen, here are ways to enjoy the area for less.
If you book a lodging package directly through Keystone for two or more nights, kids 12 and under ski for free. You’ll receive one complimentary lift ticket on a two-night stay, then an additional lift ticket on every night booked thereafter. Children four and under traditionally ski for free at Keystone.
This “kids ski free” offer even includes the Hyatt Place Keystone, so you can use points to stay less than a mile from the mountain.
This Category 4 Hyatt hotel accepts Category 1–4 reward night certificates that you earn each year with The World of Hyatt Credit Card. If paying with points, nights start at 15,000 points, or the Points + Cash rate is 7,500 points plus $75. You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to your Hyatt account instantly on a 1:1 basis. Earn Ultimate Rewards points with cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
Families who want to put their kids in ski school can score their child a free season pass at Loveland. Simply sign up your child for three half-day lessons (ski or snowboard) and they’ll receive a season pass after completion. This offer is valid for children between the ages of seven and 14; the three class pass costs $399. Children five and under traditionally ski for free.
If you purchase an adult ticket for five or more days at Steamboat Springs, any child under 12 will ski for free for the same number of days. This is valid for a child skiing with a parent, grandparent or legal guardian. Only one child is allowed to ski for free per adult.
If you happen to visit Steamboat this winter, the Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas is a great place to stay, and you can even use your up to 35,000-point Marriott Bonvoy reward night certificate that comes with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (capped at a 35,000-point redemption each year).
Children four and under traditionally ski for free at Breckenridge.
Breckenridge also has many hotel options where you can use your points for a free stay. You can use your Hilton points at the Valdoro Mountain Lodge or the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Breckenridge and your Marriott Bonvoy points at the Residence Inn Breckenridge.
Pre-COVID, Crested Butte was known to run a promotion where kids 12 and under could ski for free during a certain period. Hopefully we will see that promotion pop back up this year, but as of now there is no such offer.
Children four and under typically ski for free at Crested Butte.
Children four and under typically ski for free at Beaver Creek.
Beaver Creek is another great option in Colorado if you’re looking to use your hotel points. There are many chain hotel options, such as the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek (from 30,000 World of Hyatt points), The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch (85,000 Bonvoy points on standard dates) and the Westin Riverfront Spa & Resort (60,000 Bonvoy points on standard dates).
Children four and under ski for free at Vail.
Similar to Beaver Creek, using points and miles is an excellent way to make your overall vacation here even more affordable. Some popular options for points and miles enthusiasts are the Vail Marriott (between 50,000 and 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points), Highline Vail – a DoubleTree by Hilton (between 42,000 and 80,000 Honors points) and the Grand Hyatt Vail (from 30,000 World of Hyatt points).
Purgatory is part of the Power Kids program, where kids 12 and under can get a free season pass they can use at eight participating western resorts. Other valid resorts include Pajarito Mountain Ski Area and Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort in New Mexico, Arizona Snowbowl, Hesperus Ski Area in Colorado, Nordic Valley Ski Resort in Utah, Brian Head Resort in Utah and Spider Mountain Bike Park in Texas.
Ski Utah offers a fifth- and sixth-grade passport program that you can purchase even if you’re not a resident. The cost is $45 per pass (although that price will increase on Dec 1, 2021) and is valid seven days a week. The pass grants access to 15 different Utah resorts. Fifth-graders receive three passes to each resort, while sixth-graders receive only one pass to each resort for the season.
The resorts include Alta Ski Area, Brighton Resort, Beaver Mountain, Brian Head Resort, Cherry Peak Resort, Deer Valley Resort, Eagle Point, Nordic Valley Resort, Park City Mountain, Powder Mountain, Snowbasin Resort, Snowbird, Solitude, Sundance Resort and Woodward Park City.
Related: Review of the St. Regis Deer Valley
Brighton has an extremely generous kids ski program where two children ages 10 and under can ski for free with the purchase of one adult ticket. You just have to purchase a one-time reloadable cardstock for $5.
Additionally, you can purchase a 10-and-under season pass for a small fee (the cost for the 2021/2022 season has not yet been announced). Not only children can ski for free at any time, but there also are a few perks of the season pass, which include free days at other resorts in the Wasatch and across the Boyne family, use of the UTA ski bus and more. You also don’t have to go to the ticket window each day to claim your free day pass.
Snowbasin has also not released its 2021/2022 ticket pricing, but similar to last year, children four and under will probably continue to ski free.
Children six and under ski for free at Snowbird.
Children four and under ski for free at Solitude.
Children six and under ski for free at Powder Mountain.
Children five and under ski for free at Sundance.
Although Idaho’s Peak Season Passport information is not yet available for the 2021/2022 winter, in past years, both fifth- and sixth-graders have been able to ski for a majority of the winter for just $18 for the season. Typically, fifth-graders get three free days at each of the 18 mountains (for a total of 54 days of skiing) while sixth-graders get two free days at only 17 mountains (for a total of 34 days of skiing). There’s no residency restriction for this deal, although last year there were restrictions on weekends, holidays and other busy ski days during the season. Stay tuned to see what this year brings.
Participating mountains include Bald Mountain, Bogus Basin, Brundage Mountain, Cottonwood Butte, Grand Targhee, Kelly Canyon, Little Ski Hill, Lookout Pass, Lost Trail, Magic Mountain, Pebble Creek, Pomerelle (fifth-graders only), Schweitzer, Silver Mountain, Snowhaven, Soldier Mountain, Sun Valley and Tamarack.
If you’re flying Alaska Airlines into Spokane Airport, your entire family can ski for free. While exact details won’t be announced until Nov. 1, 2021, we were told that Schweitzer will be participating in the “Fly Alaska, ski free” promotion.
In the past, all you had to do was show your Alaska Airlines boarding pass and you’d receive a free lift ticket for the same day as your arrival.
When you book lodging at Sun Valley, many packages offer free skiing to kids 12 and under with the purchase of an adult ski ticket. Currently, a three-night minimum stay is required and you must book by Nov. 21, 2021. There are also blackout dates, which include Dec. 21, 2021 — Jan. 2, 2022 and Feb. 18 — Feb 22, 2022.
Children four and under always ski for free.
The Washington State passport program for fifth-graders costs $20 and is available this season, though they may face usage restrictions based on capacity constraints at specific resorts.
The passport program usually includes access to six different mountains throughout Idaho and Washington State, including 49 Degrees North, Lookout Pass, Mount Spokane, Silver Mountain, Brundage Mountain and Loup Loup. The pass allows you to ski for up to three days at each of the participating resorts.
There’s also an Idaho pass that includes a different set of mountains; get both passes if you wish to explore more slopes.
Everyone thinks of Jackson Hole when it comes to skiing Wyoming and with good reason. Here’s the deal for families headed in that direction.
Children four and under always ski for free with a Jcard purchase, which comes with a one-time $5 fee.
Using points is a solid way to make your overall vacation here more affordable. The SpringHill Suites Jackson Hole is a good option that costs 50,000 points per night on standard dates. Or, you can opt for the brand new Cloudveil, a Marriott Autograph Collection.
For families visiting Oregon, Mt. Bachelor is the place to visit for free kid skiing.
Children five and under always ski for free at Mt. Bachelor, though they require physical lift tickets, which can be picked up at any ticket window on the day you want to ski.
Maine offers a few options for your kids to ski for free. While many mountains have their own programs, the Winter Kids app also will offer many discounts on skiing along with other activities throughout the state (with some New Hampshire activities even added this year). This membership costs $40 and covers a family of five. Yearly membership doesn’t start until Nov. 1, but an example from last year includes a free junior lift ticket with a paying adult at Camden Snow Bowl.
Children five and under ski for free at Sunday River.
Children five and under ski at Sugarloaf Mountain for just $5.
New Hampshire’s Snowsports Passport program provides your fourth- or fifth-grader access to 33 different resorts once each throughout the season. The cost is $59.
Children four and under ski for free at Bretton Woods.
Children five and under always ski for free at Gunstock.
Waterville Valley Resort
Separately, if you lease seasonal gear for your child at Ken Jones Ski Mart in New Hampshire, those between the age of six and 12 receive a free junior Waterville Valley Season Pass. All rentals must be leased by Dec. 12, 2021.
Typically, children five and under ski free at Cannon Mountain with a paying adult.
Children five and under ski for free at Loon Mountain.
Children four and under ski for free at Mount Sunapee.
Even though the Ski Vermont passport took a break during last year’s season, it is making a return for 2021/2022, and it’s even better. Traditionally this was limited to just fifth-graders, but this year sixth-graders can also purchase the passport book. With this $20 passport, each fifth- and sixth-grader can ski twice at 20 different alpine and 28 cross country ski areas between Dec. 1, 2021 and May 1, 2022 (date restrictions apply).
There is no residency requirement. However, each passport holder needs to be accompanied by a ticket or ski pass holder (one adult can bring up to two children using the passport).
Kids five and under usually ski for free at Bromley Mountain. While this resort is only seven miles away from the historic Equinox Resort, it left the Marriott chain in 2021. Although you can no longer use your Marriott Bonvoy points for a free night stay, you can still use flexible reward points, such as Capital One Venture miles, to wipe away the charges.
Children six and under ski for free at Okemo Mountain.
Children six and under ski for free at Mount Snow.
With every five-day adult ticket purchased, a child between the ages of seven and 12 can ski for free at Killington with a ski and stay package (not valid during blackout dates). Children six and under always ski for free.
Kids six and under ski for free at Pico Mountain. Additionally, you can receive a free kids season pass (for ages 7-12) with the purchase of an adult season pass (the child must be a dependent).
Kids four and under ski for free at Stowe.
In case you find yourself visiting the resort, here is everything you need to know about Stowe. Hint: You can use your World of Hyatt points to stay at the Lodge at Spruce Peak at the base of the mountain.
Pricing has not yet been released for the 2021/2022 winter season, but traditionally, children under 46 inches tall ski for $10.
Children five and under ski free at Ski Apache.
Ski Santa Fe
Children five and under ski for $15.
Children six and under ski free with a paying adult.
Related: Choosing the best annual ski pass
The combination of skiing at a mountain where your kids can ski for free and using points and miles on your airfare and hotel will help make your upcoming ski vacation much more affordable. You can also use miles earned from the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Discover it Miles to pay for the rest of your family’s ski tickets and bring down the out-of-pocket total cost.
Where will your family ski this winter?
Learn more about planning for a ski trip…
- How to pack for a ski trip
- Plan a ski trip with points and miles
- Top ski schools for kids
- 5 ways to make your next ski trip better than ever
- Hotels near Ikon Ski Pass resorts you can book with points
- Best credit cards to use on ski trips
- Best ski resorts for families in North America
Additional reporting by Summer Hull.
Featured image by Imgorthand/Getty Images.