Utah is one of our favorite places to take a family ski vacation because it’s so easy. It’s easy to fly there, plus the roads and signage ease the way for even a first-timer to find the way to the correct mountains. It’s almost impossible to get lost. Another thing we love is the ease of finding ways to save on a Utah ski trip. Utah is famous for light powder and family-friendly ski deals, so any way I can save money on skiing there means more days that our frog squad can enjoy on the mountain. We’ve researched the ways to save on a Utah ski trip and are hoppy to share those tips with you so that you can toadally fall in love with Utah, too. Let's hop to it!
When to Book and Visit to Save on a Utah Ski Trip
Plan to Ski Off-Peak
You don’t always have control over your time off. Sometimes you can travel only during school breaks or work holidays. But if you can break away at an off-peak time, you can save money on lodging, lift tickets and flights. Holiday peak pricing is much more than regular pricing. So when the best time to ski? Avoid holidays times, such as the time between Christmas and New Year and Presidents' Day weekend. February is generally peak ski season, but weekdays can be better than weekends.
If you can travel late November or mid-December up until Christmas, or in January (especially the first few weeks of January once kids have gone back to school), later in March and during spring skiing in April, you can avoid the bulk of the crowds and the higher prices they bring. Some resorts stay open later in the season than others, so look ahead to see projected closing dates to get a sense of the better late-season resorts, which can vary based on snowfall.
Book Early to Save on a Utah Ski Trip
We have a saying: “The early frog gets the flies.” In terms of saving money on lodging, the people who book early get the best locations and units for the most affordable prices. If you want a ski-in/ski-out location or a room that suits a larger family, you’ll want to reserve months in advance. Another reason to book early is that once you know your dates, it makes it easier to book all of your other plans and find early bird deals on flights, rental cars, lift tickets and activities.
Find the Most Affordable Ski Resorts
There are many factors to consider when deciding on the best Utah ski resort for your family. We love the choices for great family ski resorts in Utah, but some of them cost less than others. It’s important to consider the amenities that come with the prices. Some of the less-expensive resorts might not provide much nightlife, lodging, family entertainment or services like daycare. That low-key atmosphere may work for some families. Other families want more fun and nearby activities like sleigh rides, tubing and more. You have to weigh what’s important to you, because a large resort can really make a difference in what they offer in terms of skiing and activities off of the mountain.
Park City offers a full-on ski town. The Park City Mountain Resort and The Canyons Resort merged and are now connected by a gondola. That makes Park City the largest ski resort in the United States! With 7,300 acres, you’ll never get bored skiing there, and you can take advantage of fun family activities. Some of our favorites include fireworks, s’mores, games and musical entertainment. Plus, we can take advantage of daycare for our toddler, Lily, and hop about the fun historic Main Street at night as a family.
Affordability is relative. When it comes to skiing in the Park City area, Park City is a much more affordable ski resort compared to posh Deer Valley. (For example, let's compare two Frog Family Favorites: the Grand Summit Hotel in Park City is as low as $181 a night, while The St. Regis Deer Valley is as low as $358 a night to stay.) But Park City costs more than a small resort tucked far away in a canyon with nothing to do besides skiing. Keep in mind that Deer Valley does not allow snowboarders, so if you have riders in the Park City area, then Park City resort it is! If you have beginner skiers and kids in your family who are looking for good grooming, some fun things to do off of the ski hill and affordable nearby lodging choices, then Park City area is a good choice.
Some of the affordable ski resorts in other parts of Utah, such as the Salt Lake City area, include Brighton and Solitude, which are in the same canyon. Snowbird and Alta are the pricier Salt Lake City area choices. Those two are in the same canyon as each other. No snowboards are allowed at Alta.
Out near Ogden, Powder Mountain is less expensive than Snowbasin. However, the luxury amenities at Snowbasin are quite nice. (Hello, marble bathrooms where each stall is its own room and high-speed gondolas everywhere!)
Save on Lift Tickets and Lessons
Explore Lift Ticket Options
There are many ways to save on a Utah ski trip when it comes to lift tickets. No matter what resort you decide to ski, you never want to show up and buy same-day, single-day lift tickets at the mountain. That is how to pay the highest price. The key to saving money on lift tickets is to book early, at least seven days in advance, and to purchase multi-day tickets. (There’s an exception for active-duty or retired military who are eligible for discounts on single-day tickets at several resorts, including Park City, at the ticket window.)
If you’re a good planner, the best way to lock in savings is to purchase a multi-mountain Epic Pass several months before ski season. Undercover Tourist is selling 4-, 5-, 6- and 7-day and Unlimited Epic Passes for the next ski season. Some are restricted with blockout dates at holidays. You can use the unrestricted tickets any time. The Epic Passes are good Park City resort in Utah, as well as any other Vail-owned resorts in Colorado (such as Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone). The Epic Passes are also good at popular Lake Tahoe ski resorts (such as Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood) and other ski resorts. You can use all of your days at Park City, or split them up between several trips to other resorts on the pass during the season. Be sure to purchase before the ski season kicks off!
If you were not able to secure an Epic Pass before the current ski season, then you are looking at the best way to save money on lift tickets. Lift ticket prices vary based on how early you purchase them and when you want to ski. If you can ski off-peak and not during holiday times, you can save money on lift tickets. Choose a weekday or quieter time in the season to save money and enjoy shorter lift lines.
Always find out if a lift ticket is included with any lessons you may have booked. Beginner skiers can save some green by skiing green … runs, that is! Many resorts offer less expensive beginner lift tickets that include access to beginner lifts.
Look for Kids Ski Free Options
Utah is known for being very kid-friendly. Many resorts participate in allowing kids under 5 to ski free, including Park City. (However, if you ski Deer Valley, you’ll need to buy a lift ticket for the tadpoles, even toddlers.) You might score some lodging packages that allow a child 12 and under to ski for free. Kids 10 and under ski for free with an adult ticket at Brighton. If you have a fifth or sixth grader who wants to do a lot of skiing in Utah during the season, then definitely look into the fifth and sixth grade Ski Utah Passport. It is good at 13 major ski resorts (some do have blockout dates).
Take Advantage of First Time and Never Ever Deals
January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard month! If you are new to skiing, you can find great Learn to Ski deals in January. These deals may include your lift ticket, rentals and lessons at any ski resort for approximately $50 per day. Look ahead for the best deals because they may be offered on specific dates.
If you can’t make it in January, no worries. There are always good deals on First Time and Never Ever lessons. Look for the best deals at the Utah ski resorts. You can choose less-expensive ski resorts for your first day, since chances are you won’t be getting very high on the mountain anyway. You may be utilizing the “magic carpet” conveyor belt and beginner lifts and sticking to green runs.
Lessons are very important, so definitely invest in education from the pros so you can gain the skills and confidence you need to become a safe and successful skier. Lift tickets are often included with first time ski lessons for adults and kids (or can be included at a steep discount). Also, the pricing of first time lessons is significantly less than other lessons, so take advantage of the savings and the safety training. Plus, the advantage to being in a lesson if you do happen to be visiting during a crowded time is that lessons and ski school groups skip lift lines! We love skipping lines!
Find Out If You Need Adaptive Lessons
Does someone in your group have physical or cognitive disabilities? Adaptive lessons can help them succeed at skiing and snowboarding by providing the right kind of instruction. Adaptive lessons are affordable, plus lift tickets and equipment may be included. Some resorts give a companion a buddy pass, too!
Purchase Ski School Lessons in Advance and Comparison Shop
You’ll want to book lessons in advance for the best savings and availability. There are other aspects to saving on ski lessons in Utah. Ski lessons vary quite a bit in price. You’ll want to compare the price of group, private and small group lessons. Look at half day versus full day, or one resort to another as ways to save on a Utah ski trip. All ski lessons are good ski lessons! We always recommend learning from the professionals. Those lessons pay off in safety, confidence and progressing in skill level.
While half-day lessons cost less than full day lessons, do a cost comparison to see if a full day ends up being a better price per hour. Perhaps private lessons are out of your budget. However, a small group 4-person, half-day lesson may give you more attention while saving over a larger group full-day lesson. The Never Ever Group Ski Lessons offer the most bang for your buck with ski equipment and lift tickets included. In general, group lessons are typically less expensive than private lessons.
If your entire family is learning together, you might find private family lessons for up to six people to be a better deal than putting everyone in separate group lessons. Plus, you get to stay together while getting individualized attention. Equipment and rentals are not included in family lessons. You can also save on consecutive multi-day lessons versus single day lessons. Keep in mind that having a few days in the same program can help you to progress faster. Be sure to budget tips for your instructors into the cost of lessons.
Intermediate or advanced skiers might want to brush up on skills and correct bad habits with a lesson. A free option is to take a free mountain tour, which is not the same as a lesson, but you can follow a guide and learn about the mountain. Plus, you might pick up some great tips for free!
Find out what comes with your kids' lessons. Childrens' full-day lessons usually include lunch. You may be able to add a lift ticket and equipment rentals inexpensively. They might be included with some beginner lessons. You'll want to book at least 48 hours in advance at most resorts. Online advance prices usually save money over the ticket window price. Check your dates in advance at Park City. Some group youth ski lessons are not available every day, but smaller groups lessons are.
Save on Food Costs
Bring Snacks or Meals and Do Some of Your Own Cooking
If your lodging offers any kind of kitchen (even a mini refrigerator and microwave help), you can save money by making some meals. Eating breakfast in your room or condo saves time and money. Pack some energy bars in everyone’s pockets for snacks and toss some sandwiches in a backpack for lunch. Ski lodge food is very pricey, so if you can limit your purchases there, you will save big time.
Hit Happy Hour and Dining Specials
After a day of skiing, our family is famished. We hop into a restaurant offering happy hour food or nightly food specials. We sometimes turn heavy appetizers into an early dinner that won’t break the bank.
Find FREE Activities and Snacks
Many ski resorts or hotels offer fun family entertainment for free, and Park City has a number of free things to do off the mountain. The key is to find it. You can always stroll down the historic Main Street in Park City. The Kimball Art Center is free to the public, and there’s an art stroll the fourth Friday of the month with light refreshments.
Hop into the Park City Museum — kids 6 and under are free. Utah Olympic Park is home to two free museums — Alf Engen Ski Museum and the Eccles 2002 Olympic Winter Games Museum. You can hop aboard the free Main Street Trolley for a free ride. The Kimball Junction Circulator will take you on a free tour around the Kimball Junction area from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily (buses circulate every 15 minutes). If you need to get inside and out of the cold, go see a free movie at the Park City Film Series. They even have movies for kids, especially on school breaks! You can reserve free seats.
No matter which resort you are visiting in Utah, be sure to look over the events calendar, read chairlift signs, look over resort maps and consult hotel itineraries to find parades, dress-up parties, fireworks (like First Friday Fireworks at Park City), complimentary Sunday s’mores at Park City Village fire pits, free donuts, musical entertainment and kid snow play activities. You can meet an avalanche dog at Park City. You can also ski with a ranger for free, and intermediate skiers can embark on a free Silver to Slopes Historic Mining Tour ON SKIS! Bonus: you’ll get a free pin at the end! You can watch ice-carving demonstrations, and so much more.
Some of the simplest pleasures are free. Warm up by a fire, or take a dip in a heated hotel pool or hot tub. There is a lot of winter family fun you can have without it costing you an arm and a leg. Good ol’ fashioned family fun like having snowball fights, making snow angels and building snowmen always make for hoppy family memories.
We hope you’ve found these ways to save on a Utah ski trip “hopful” in planning your epic family ski trip. If you need a rental car to get you from the airport to your ski resort, you can get a jump on savings by booking a Salt Lake City area car rental through Undercover Tourist. We’ve also hopped into discount ski hotels at some of the best family ski resorts in park City, Utah.
Related: How to Pack for a Ski Trip