Skiing on a budget? Try these affordable passes |

Skiing on a budget? Try these affordable passes

Snowmaking in October at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.
Courtesy Ian Zinner / Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

VAIL — The biggest barrier for many interested in skiing and snowboarding is the financial commitment they have to make before even getting in a lift line.

While season passes make sense for those who will surely use them, they’re a risky commitment for someone whose season outlook is unknown. Beginners, impromptu travelers and status-seeking explorers are among the types you’ll find in line for a full-price, single-day window ticket.

Lucky for them, Colorado’s smaller mountains are calling.

Colorado Gems card offers BOGO tickets at multiple smaller resorts

For $30, skiers can purchase a Colorado Gems card, which is good for buy-one-get-one tickets at 11 different resorts, or 30% off window prices for solo skiers.

The Gems card offers access to “Colorado’s best hidden treasures,” which, according to Colorado Ski Country USA, are: Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Loveland, Ski Cooper, Echo Mountain, Eldora, Granby Ranch, Hesperus Ski Area, Kendall Mountain, Monarch, Powderhorn and Sunlight.

Blackout dates are December 21-January 1. Gems cards are currently on sale at The sales will close when the cards sell out or at the end of February, whichever comes first.

Silverton’s Spring Unguided Season Pass gets you on a heli, for cheap

At $199, Silverton’s Unguided Season Pass offers access to three of Colorado’s smaller resorts in the western half of the state.

The Spring Unguided Pass gets you unlimited access to Silverton throughout its unguided season, which runs from late March to late April. It also includes three days each at Powderhorn and Sunlight that can be used throughout the regular season, with limited blackout dates.

What sweetens the deal is for an extra $39, you can book a helicopter ride to Silverton’s Grassy and Butter Bowls.

Also, the value of this pass stretches beyond Colorado’s borders. On top of all you get within state lines, you also get three days each at Eaglecrest, Alaska; Mission Ridge, Washington; Sundance, Utah; Red Lodge Mountain, Montana; Snow King, Wyoming; Brundage Mountain, Idaho and Mt. Baldy, California.

The regular price of the Spring Unguided Pass is $499; the $199 early-bird deal ends November 1st.

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