The Most Affordable Ski Resorts in Colorado

Newsroom Best Of Topics The Most Affordable Ski Resorts in Colorado

Skiing in Colorado doesn’t have to come with such sticker shock, even when purchasing your lift ticket at the window the same day. Of course sticker shock, or in this case window shock, is more likely to happen on those peak weekends, over holidays and when you’re skiing at one of the big Colorado ski resorts. However, by sticking to small and mid-size Colorado ski resorts, you can enjoy a day on the slopes without feeling the pain when your credit card bill arrives. Let’s show you how to ski in Colorado on a budget. For more options throughout the U.S., check out our round-up of some of the most affordable ski resorts. After your trip, rate and review the ski areas you visited here.


Before we jump into actual pricing, let’s talk about the best ski value. First and foremost, you will most certainly save money if you purchase a ski pass, such as an Ikon Pass or Epic season pass (read our Epic vs. Ikon Pass comparison article for a complete breakdown). That is, as long as you plan to ski several days, and you buy your pass early. The Colorado ski prices we discuss in this article are single day, adult lift tickets purchased at the ticket window, which are always going to be the most expensive option.

Nonetheless, there are other factors that come into play to save money. Buying lift tickets for multiple days will also save you money, as will purchasing senior, military, junior, local, college, or other discounted tickets when offered. Additionally, check out the Colorado Gems Pass, good at many of the smaller resorts in Colorado. With the Gems Discount Card, skiers can choose between 2-for-1 single-day lift tickets or 30% off single-day lift tickets at 10 of Colorado’s laid-back ski areas. Finally, some ski areas offer discounted individual lift tickets if you purchase them in advance online. Now, read on for the most affordable ski resorts in Colorado.

Note: Ticket prices change with the time of the season, snow conditions and during special promotions. Look for deals early in the ski season, late in the season and on weekdays.


10 Affordable Ski Resorts in Colorado

Ski Cooper

Cooper is in the same mountain neighborhood as Vail, Breckenridge, and Beaver Creek, so you can expect good snow conditions at a bargain. Lift ticket prices are significantly less than other ski resorts, at $95 on weekdays and weekends, while certain days during the season have discounted lift tickets. Cooper’s ski pass is a great option, too, as it offers free ski days at a number of partner ski resorts throughout North America. Cooper, in operation since 1942, is a friendly resort with good facilities and great snow, featuring 5 lifts serving 64 trails spread out across 480 acres. The small town of Leadville has reasonably priced lodging and dining.

» View Cooper Lodging Options 

Cooper Mountain, CO, Cooper Ski Pass: Low cost alternative on smaller, fun mountains.
©Casey Day / Cooper Mountain

Sunlight Mountain

Waiting for you between Vail and Aspen Snowmass is Sunlight Mountain Resort, where single adult lift tickets are as low as $65. Sunlight, a great family ski resort, lives up to its name, receiving more than 300 days of sunshine each year. It receives on average 250 inches of snow per season. The deals here extend off the mountain to nearby Glenwood Springs, which offers a wide variety of budget-friendly lodging options along with those world-famous hot springs to soak away the ski leg blues. Additionally, Sunlight Mountain is on the Indy Pass, which has several participating resorts in Colorado.

» View Sunlight Lodging Options 

Wolf Creek

Skiers in southeast Colorado, New Mexico, and even Texas are lucky to have one of Colorado’s snowiest ski resorts, Wolf Creek, in their backyard at good prices. Daily adult lift tickets are $89. Wolf Creek is a small Colorado ski resort with 1,600 skiable acres, but there’s a variety of terrain, and plenty of powder days for everyone to enjoy. Reasonably priced accommodations can be found to the west of the mountain in nearby Pagosa Springs and South Fork. Both towns also have good dining options. Pagosa Springs offers the bonus of its hot springs for soaking.

» View Wolf Creek Lodging Options 

Powder day at Wolf. Creek, CO.
©Scott DW Smith / Wolf Creek Ski Area

Monarch Mountain

Off many people’s Colorado ski resort radar is Monarch Mountain, an affordable destination that receives 350 inches of snow each year. Monarch offers a variety of lift tickets depending on when you ski or ride, including weekday, weekend, and holiday tickets. Holiday lift tickets are around $139, while weekday lift tickets can be as low as $69. Buy in advance online and save as much as 40 percent. The nearby town of Salida is a budget-friendly lodging option for accommodations, from chain hotels to family-owned properties.

Monarch Mountain, CO, clouds and ski, powder run.

Monarch Mountain Ski Area @Shutterstock

Arapahoe Basin

Some people may be surprised to find an Ikon Pass and Mountain Collective resort on a list of affordable ski resorts. However, Arapahoe Basin often has lift tickets for less than $100. The caveat is that you’ll need to purchase them in advance and online. In fact lift tickets aren’t sold at A-Basin. If you’re going to be skiing more than one day, then consider one of Arapahoe Basin’s 3-Pack lift tickets. The Midweek 3 Pack, for example, starts at $229, coming out to $76 per day. Even with 3 days of skiing, you’ll just scratch the surface of its 1,428 acres of skiable terrain and 2,530 feet of vertical.

» View Arapahoe Basin Lodging Options 

Arapahoe Basin CO, spring and summer skiing.
©Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

Echo Mountain

Denver’s closest and most affordable ski area (35 miles from Denver), Echo Mountain, is an ideal day trip destination and a good option for saving on gas and lodging. Adult lift tickets at the window are $79. However, you can score Echo Mountain lift tickets online from $57-$69 in advance. Note that lift tickets can sell out for busy weekends and holiday weekends, so it’s recommended to buy lift tickets ahead of time. Snow is plentiful, and the ski area also has extensive snowmaking capabilities. A bonus at Echo Mountain is night skiing. Finish up your workday and a short while later, you’ll be on the snow. Echo also has a tubing park to keep the kids busy.

» View Echo Mountain Lodging Options 

Echo Mountain quiet chairlift and runs, CO.
Echo Mountain ©Shutterstock


Located in the San Juan Mountain range near Durango, Purgatory works on a variable pricing online lift ticket system. Tickets can be as low as $9 (yes, seriously), though that’s going to typically be very early or late-season ski days. You can expect to typically pay at least $40, though holiday periods can be around $100. Purchasing your tickets as early as possible will give you the best rates. An easy drive down the road from Purgatory is the lively Western town of Durango with a wide variety of hotels and inns. The town is home to Fort Lewis College, so there are plenty of excellent budget eateries and accommodations catering to students and their families. Not to mention that Durango is considered one of the top small towns in America.

» View Purgatory Lodging Options 

Purgatory Lodge at dusk.
©Eric Berry/Purgatory Lodge

Granby Ranch

Located just north of Winter Park, a couple hours from Denver, Granby Ranch is a family-owned ski resort, comprised of 2 mountains and a variety of terrain over its 400 acres of skiable terrain. While lift tickets can be around $150 for holidays and popular weekends, lift tickets are often around $120. Bonus: Granby Ranch has night skiing, which is just $49. Granby Ranch is also on the Indy Pass. Couple it with a day or two at Winter Park, which is just 20 miles south.

» View Granby Ranch Lodging Options 

Howelsen Hill

Howelsen Hill, located in Steamboat Springs, is Colorado’s oldest continuously operated ski area, opening in 1915, and known for having the largest and most complete natural ski jumping complex in North America. It’s small, with just 50 skiable acres, 17 trails, and 4 lifts, however, you can’t beat $47 lift tickets. Considering Howelsen’s size and terrain, it’s best suited for beginner skiers. However, it’s location in Steamboat Springs means that you can drop off the kids and beginner skiers in your group while you ski Steamboat, OnTheSnow’s 2022-23 Visitors Choice award winner of best overall ski resort.

» View Howelsen Hill Lodging Options 

Hesperus Ski Area

While Hesperus is one of Colorado’s smaller ski areas, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better price. Hesperus Ski Area is located 11 miles west of Durango and offers 26 trails on 60 skiable acres. It receives 150 inches of annual snowfall. Everything is reasonably priced at Ski Hesperus with adult lift tickets going for only $48 during the day and $36 for night skiing. Nearby Durango offers everything else.


Where is the most affordable ski resort?

Ski Cooper is one of Colorado’s most affordable ski areas, and arguably the best value. It’s also just a few miles from the historic Western town of Leadville. Leadville is both fun and affordable in all ways. Hesperus Ski Area is one of the cheapest ski resorts in Colorado, but you won’t find the snow and terrain that you’ll find at most other Colorado ski resorts.

How do you ski in Colorado on a budget?

Buy discounted lift tickets online. This is typically the best way to save if you don’t have a ski pass. Save on lodging by staying at a bed and breakfast or vacation rental, many of which are typically only a few minutes from ski resorts. Pack a lunch for the day, as ski resort food and drinks can add up. Finally, shop local or rent gear. If you’re without gear and on a budget, you’ll want to avoid the shops at base areas and look for bargains nearby.

Colorado Ski Country USA offers any fifth grader the chance to ski or ride 3 days at 22 participating member resorts across the state. That’s up to 66 free days on the slopes. Try Howelsen Hill in Steamboat, which is Colorado’s oldest continually operated ski hill, offering free skiing on Sundays throughout the ski season just by showing up at the ticket office. This program is meant to “celebrate the community’s Olympian spirit and honor the tradition of this historic ski area.” Nearly 100 Olympians have been produced at Howelsen Hill.

How can I stay at cheap ski resorts?

Check online websites of hotels and lodges with ski vacation packages. Sign up for ski resorts’ newsletters and follow them on social media, as that’s where they’ll often post special offers. Head to OnTheSnow’s Colorado lodging page to see the latest lodging deals.


So, there you have a few suggestions for the most affordable ski resorts in Colorado. Pack your bags and equipment and find out for yourself that it won’t cost a fortune to experience some of the best snow conditions in the world. After your Colorado ski trip, leave a resort review and help other travelers plan their Colorado ski vacation.

Header image ©Scott DW Smith / Wolf Creek Ski Area

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