Take a turn at some of Colorado’s smaller resorts and you may be surprised. They’re called the Gems of Colorado, and they can be an easy and inexpensive way to have some fun on the slopes.

The Gems resorts are Arapahoe Basin, Echo Mountain, Eldora, Loveland, Monarch, Powderhorn, Ski Cooper, SolVista Basin, and Sunlight. They’re scattered across the state of Colorado and sometimes in the shadows of the big resorts.

Colorado Ski Country USA offers a Colorado Gems Card for $10, available at Credit Union of Colorado’s 15 statewide locations. You can also purchase the card online.

The Gems Card deals differ at each resort. For example, Arapahoe Basin, Echo Mountain, Eldora, Monarch, Powderhorn and SolVista all give $10 off a lift ticket. You can get one free ticket at Ski Cooper in February, mid-week. Some resorts offer two-for-one tickets, others offer a free ski day. Others offer deals on junior and child tickets. There are some blackout dates and restrictions, but you’re sure to find a deal sometime during the season.

Lisa Craig with SolVista near Winter Park says the Gems Card is a steal of a deal for discovering a hidden gem right in your own backyard.

Best of all, Gem Card holders spend more time on the snow and less time in lift lines," Craig said. "Come out and enjoy a day or the whole season. Seriously, we’re that affordable. We recommend you bring a BFF (your best friend’s family).”

Ski Cooper is near Leadville. Bob Casey with the resort says that at the smaller areas, you’ll get a totally different kind of experience from the big resorts.

“You skip the hustle and bustle and get back to what skiing and riding are all about," Casey said. "The Gems Card provides guests with valuable discounts and programs for both experienced skiers and riders as well as those who want to learn in a friendly and less crowded environment. Finally, it’s simply more affordable and fun.”

Cindy Dady, the GM at Echo Mountain, adds, “Being a Gems resort gives Echo Mountain a bigger voice and more presence within the industry and state. For our guests at Echo, the Gems program allows them the opportunity to experience our mountain at an even more ‘echonomical’ price point.”

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