Ski Colorado Cheap. The Best Ski Weekend For Under $500.

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Ski Colorado cheap. Is under $500 a person even possible?

Skiing more days is good. Skiing more days out west is even better. When you’re tired of taking road trips up north or to New York and Ontario it’s time to figure out how to get out west. I frequently plan my travel with the motto “Go Cheap, Go more” so that I can do more of it. Going cheap doesn’t mean skiing lousy places. Sure, you’re not going to Vail on this trip because of their over $200 daily ticket price. It is possible to ski Colorado for a couple of days for under $500 a person including flight, hotel, rental car and lift ticket.

Loveland Pass Ski Resort mountain scenery

Were flying Spirit Airlines

Were taking the Spirit Airlines flight. If you watch you can find the round trip for under $100 for January and February. When I looked it up tonight for the purpose of this post, the current round trip for leaving on a Thursday and returning on a Saturday or Sunday night was $112.60 round trip.

1 check bag, no carryons

They charge for bags. So do most other airlines. You’re taking your skis with you so you need to check a bag anyway. The good thing is they charge less for checked bags ($32) then they do for carryons ($37). You can bring a backpack free of charge as your “personal item”. You are free to load your coat pockets up with as much stuff as will fit also.

They have an evening flight out that arrives back in Detroit at about 2am. This flight allows you to ski on your last day and still make it to the airport.

cheap ski colorado spirit flight

You’re staying in Denver

Were not going to stay out in the mountains. Were going to stay in Denver. Specifically Golden on the west edge of town so we have close access to I-70 in the morning. You can get okay hotels here for low prices. We’ll look at the Days Inn in Golden. You can stay for 2 nights for $107.77

Get up early and beat the traffic

This idea may seem somewhat crazy. You’ve probably seen I-70 traffic in the morning and it can get backed up for miles. There is a factor working for us. Eastern Time Zone. You work at a job that requires you to get up early on eastern time. Consequently getting up early on Mountain Time is really easy. You get up at 5am. You’re on the road by 5:30am. You’ll miss all the traffic on I-70 and you’ll be at any mountain you choose before first chair with time to change and get breakfast in the lodge.

Where are we going to ski

Now on to the important stuff. What are we going to ski when we go out to Colorado to ski cheap. Arapahoe Basin and Loveland Pass both offer excellent skiing and very reasonable prices.

Loveland Pass

Everyone who’s been to Colorado skiing has driven right under Loveland Pass but almost no one ever stops there to ski. I have been there several times now as part of my low budget trips. I’ve had my best powder day in Colorado there. They have a fairly enormous amount of terrain. They are a traditional true skier’s mountain with their main focus on skiing.

There are no accommodations here and their lodges and cafeteria are basic and affordable. They are located on the Denver side of the Loveland Pass tunnel at the top of the mountain on I-70. It’s all downhill from there going back to Denver. Because you’re on the east side of the tunnel your ahead of that chunk of backup already.

If you leave by 3pm, you will easily make it back to Denver International in time for the 8pm flight with time to eat dinner in the terminal.

Arapahoe Basin

Arapahoe Basin also offers excellent skiing and very good advanced terrain. They have good groomer skiing too. They have one of the best lunch menus anywhere at their mid-mountain lodge barbeque.

The Friday ticket at A-Basin will run you $67 on Liftopia. The Saturday ticket at Loveland will run you $89. They typically have a discounted pre-purchase price but their web system is not complete yet. The actual price will probably be less than $89.

Copper Mountain & Winter Park

If you want to ski a more resort type resort then Copper Mountain is the most reasonable at $119 for a Saturday day ticket. It’s still a big bargain compared to Vail’s over $200 ticket. Another option is Winter Park which at $139 on a weekday or $144 on a weekend is still much cheaper.


Were going to assume a rental SUV for all our needs on this trip. In the past, there was a daily ski bus called The Front Range Shuttle going to Loveland and Copper Mountain that picked up from the base of I-70. They offered an excellent discounted Copper Mountain or Loveland Pass ticket so that the cost of the bus plus discounted ticket was close to the lift ticket price by itself. It’s gone now. The Front Range Shuttle will be missed. Hopefully, someone else will start a similar service one of these years.

4 wheel drive helps

When picking up the SUV at the airport make sure you mention you want one with 4WD. They frequently have them that are only 2WD also. 4WD gets you past the first level of snow traffic control on I-70 that is either snow rated tires or 4WD. The second level is chains required. I’ve done this plenty of times taking the very cheapest rental car I could get my hands on and never lost a ski day doing it. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

The risk and reward of a big storm

There is some risk with this plan that there will be a giant snowstorm that lasts the entire day. As a result of the snowstorm, you may not be able to make it up to the mountains all day. I’ve done this many times now and at most only been delayed a couple of hours where I had to pull over and wait for the tire restrictions to go away. The very worst that could happen is you get to go be a tourist in Denver for the afternoon and realize that tomorrow will be epically deep since no one could get to the mountain today.

Ski Colorado cheap trip total – 2 days

For a 2 days of skiing trip, the cost is the following. This assumes your splitting the hotel and car with someone.

  • Flight $112.60
  • Checked Bag ($32*2) $64
  • Hotel ($134.05/2) $67.02
  • Rental SUV ($100.94/2) $50.47
  • A-Basin ticket $67
  • Loveland Pass ticket $89
  • Total per person $450.09

Ski Colorado cheap trip total – 3 days

For a 3 days of skiing trip, the cost is the following. This also assumes your splitting the hotel and car with someone.

  • Flight $112.60
  • Checked Bag ($32*2) $64
  • Hotel ($203.13/2) $101.57
  • Rental SUV ($151.41/2) $75.71
  • A-Basin ticket $67
  • Copper Mountain ticket $119
  • Loveland Pass ticket $89
  • Total per person $628.88

For solo travel, the cost would be $567.59 for 2 days skiing or $806 for 3 days. You can ski Colorado cheap with a little creativity with careful planning of your travel and ski days.

The risk

There is some weather risk but it’s low. The consequence of the risk is deep powder the next day.

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About the author

My name is Ryan C. I am an adventure sports fan and an avid skier, sailor, mountain biker who also enjoys kayaking, and travel. I take any chance I can get to get out in the snow or water.  I decided to start this website as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for adventure sports and travel.

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