So at home this weekend you see the pictures and reports of winter's grand welcoming to Summit County. Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Keystone have now joined Arapahoe Basin in opening their slopes, and you're ready to join the celebration.
Then a thought occurs to you.
Yes, a day at Colorado's world-class resorts can be a pricey proposition, but you don't have to break the bank.
Seek the little guys
If without gear and thinking of renting on-site, the cost might be steeper than your first run. Small businesses in Colorado Springs won't make you dig deep into your pocket. Colorado Kite & Ski (2820 W. Colorado Ave.) rents skis and snowboards for $14.99 a day. If you're wanting to buy, check out Mountain Equipment Recyclers (1024 S. Tejon St.) and Gearonimo Sports (1401 S. 8th St.). The discount stores don't carry the latest and greatest, but they'll hook you up with a sweet deal.
Hit the gems
Look away from the state's glossy, high-end resorts and you'll find big savings. The Colorado Gems card is $25 and can be used twice for either two-for-one adult lift tickets or two 30-percent-off lift tickets at the following ski areas: A-Basin, Cooper, Echo Mountain, Eldora, Granby Ranch, Hesperus, Loveland, Monarch Mountain, Powderhorn and Sunlight.
'Four' the win
If you missed out on snagging the cheapest Epic Pass, fear not. Almost every mountain offers a reduced "four-pack" that gets you that many days of skiing or riding at a reduced rate. You shouldn't have much of a problem finding bundles for less than $200 - not far off the price you'd pay for a one-day lift ticket at some resorts.
The winter powder gets all the love, but the fluffy stuff that falls in March should not be overlooked. Need more convincing as a Coloradan? Consider the shorter lift lines without out-of-state vacationers.
And also consider ski areas known for their late seasons, such as A-Basin, attempt to entice with cheaper lift tickets. Be on the lookout for spring passes; more resorts have been introducing them.
The internet is your friend
Specifically, Liftopia.com is your friend. Think Expedia with lift tickets. The broker sells date-specific discounts for days on slopes worldwide. Some Colorado examples that were available heading into the weekend: up to 52 percent off at Copper and up to 35 percent off at Monarch.
Hidden in plain sight
Starting in January, buy 10 gallons of gas from participating Shell stations and head inside for a buy-one-get-one lift ticket voucher for select ski areas. Also, some Christy Sports and Colorado Ski & Golf locations sell marked-down lift tickets. Call ahead to see if any deals are available.
- Taking the little ones along? Take advantage of kids-ski-free programs at resorts across the state.
- If you're a newbie, hold off until January. That's Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, when resorts offer affordable packages that include rentals, lessons and lift tickets.
- Mark your calendar for Dec. 15. Aspen Snowmass will ring in its 50th anniversary by doling out lift tickets for the 1967 price: $6.50. Not a typo.