The Cheapest Ski Resorts in Colorado Revealed

Last Updated on December 15, 2021 by foxintheforest

Let’s be honest, skiing isn’t the most budget-friendly outdoor activity. But that doesn’t mean that you still can’t enjoy the slopes if you’re short on cash. In fact, the cheapest ski resorts in Colorado can give your wallet a break.

After living in Colorado for 12 years, I’ve been to nearly every ski resort in Colorado. Some of them cost big bucks, while others offer the same amount of fun for half the price.

So if you’re looking to ski and ride in Colorado like a local, not a tourist, then you’re in the right place.

About this Guide to the Cheapest Ski Resorts in Colorado

Looking to save money on a ski vacation? Then you’ll want to keep reading. Here’s what you’ll find inside:

  • Info about when to ski in Colorado
  • The cheapest ski resorts in Colorado, ranked by price
  • What is the least expensive ski resort in Colorado?
  • The secret tip to the least crowded ski resort in Colorado
  • Additional Colorado travel resources

When is Ski Season in Colorado?

The main ski season in Colorado runs from November to April. That’s when you can expect just about every resort to be open, although a few resorts might not open until December and some will stay open until May. And Arapahoe Basin is known for having an exceptionally long season, often opening in October and not closing until early June!

February is probably the very best month to ski in Colorado, with plenty of fresh powder, fewer crowds than over the holidays, and some of the cheapest skiing in Colorado.

Local Tip: If you ski during the week in February, you can typically pay lower prices for lift tickets – saving even more!

cheapest ski resorts in colorado

The Cheapest Ski Resorts in Colorado

As one of the best things to do in Colorado in the winter, skiing and riding is at the top of everyone’s list. But with lift tickets skyrocketing to $200, finding the cheapest ski resorts in Colorado makes the sport far more affordable.

1. Purgatory Ski Resort

While it’s a long drive from Denver to Durango, it might be worth it to visit Purgatory Ski Resort, which has some of the cheapest ski lift tickets in Colorado. And it’s an even better deal for families, since kids under 12 ski free! Purgatory is an awesome place for beginner and intermediate skiers, and it also has a great terrain park with a halfpipe.

After a long day shredding at Purgatory, relax your aching muscles with a soak in the hot springs in nearby Ouray. With all the money you saved on your lift tickets, you should still be able to afford the $18 admission to one of the best Colorado hot springs.

Day Pass: $49-88

Closest Town: Durango (7 hours from Denver)

Crowds: Medium

Opening/Closing Dates: November 20, 2021/April 22, 2022 (estimated)

2. Ski Cooper

Ski Cooper (not to be confused with Copper Mountain)  is small, and that’s the charm! With exceptionally cheap lift tickets and no crowds, anyone – from families to serious skiers – will enjoy what Cooper has to offer. Tons of beginner and intermediate runs provide fun for those newer to the slopes, while more advanced skiers can take advantage of the nearby (and also relatively cheap!) cat skiing on Chicago Ridge.

Instead of grand resort amenities, Ski Cooper offers a couple of cafes and a great Irish pub where you can grab an après pint. And Cooper is quite close by to the quaint mountain town of Leadville, offering local accommodations, dining, and shopping – including the iconic Melanzana store.

Day Pass: $50-90

Closest Town: Leadville (2 hours from Denver)

Crowds: Low

Opening/Closing Dates: December 8, 2021/April 17, 2022 (estimated)

3. Loveland Ski Area

Offering the closest skiing near Denver, Loveland also has some of the cheapest ski lift tickets in Colorado. Although it is on the I-70 corridor, you can avoid the worst of the traffic that continues on through the tunnel to Vail Pass.

Loveland has a good dedicated beginner area and provides free snowcat tours for expert skiers. Loveland also offers a 4-pack of lift tickets with no restrictions for $199, which is an awesome deal for Denverites and others in the Front Range who can make a quick trip to Loveland anytime.

Day Pass: $85-94

Closest Town: Georgetown (1 hour from Denver)

Crowds: Medium

Opening/Closing Dates: October 30, 2021/May 7, 2022 (estimated)

budget-friendly ski resort in colorado

4. Arapahoe Basin

Known as A-Basin by locals, Arapahoe Basin has cheap lift tickets all season long – and usually has the longest ski season of any resort in Colorado! A-Basin has quite the fun, party vibe (maybe because of the cheap lift tickets), so it’s a great place to let loose on the slopes and in the parking lot.

Instead of the fancy après spots at the big resorts, A-Basin has “The Beach.” Part of the parking lot is set aside for groups to gather in bikinis and Hawaiian shirts to grill, drink, and have a great time. Spots on the beach need to be reserved for $100-$200, but split between a big group, it can still be way cheaper than a meal at a fancy ski lodge.

Day Pass: $69-109

Closest Town: Dillon (1.5 hours from Denver)

Crowds: High

Opening/Closing Dates: October 17, 2021/June 8, 2022 (estimated)

5. Monarch Mountain

Not only does Monarch Mountain have relatively cheap lift tickets (especially if you avoid holidays and popular days), but it is much more chill than the big resorts. While you won’t find the resort amenities, you’ll also pretty much never find lift lines here.

Monarch is a great place for a family getaway, with lots of beginner to intermediate terrain and cheap rentals and lessons to go along with the cheap lift tickets. The nearby town of Salida also offers very reasonable accommodations.

Day Pass: $64-114

Closest Town: Salida (3 hours from Denver)

Crowds: Low

Opening/Closing Dates: TBD

6. Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Crested Butte might not have rock-bottom prices, but lift tickets are fairly reasonable and significantly less than the fanciest resorts. The town of Crested Butte is an absolute gem, so you can enjoy a ski getaway in one of the best mountain towns in Colorado without blowing your budget.

Skiing at Crested Butte is an especially good deal for more advanced skiers, unlike other cheap mountains which tend to cater to beginner or intermediate skiers.

Day Pass: $101-119

Closest Town: Crested Butte (4.5 hours from Denver)

Crowds: Low

Opening/Closing Dates: November 24, 2021/April 6, 2022 (estimated)

cheapest ski resorts in colorado

7. Winter Park Resort

Though the prices can go way up on popular days, you can still score a relatively cheap lift ticket to Winter Park if you’re not choosy about your dates. For the price, you’ll get access to two mountains, Winter Park and Mary Jane. Mary Jane is a mogul-lover’s paradise, while Winter Park is full of chill groomers.

Winter Park is only about an hour and a half from Denver, but the trade-off for easy access is insane crowds. The resort did recently install a new gondola to speed up the lift line though.

Day Pass: $94-186

Closest Town: Winter Park (1.5 hours from Denver)

Crowds: Heavy

Opening/Closing Dates: November 17, 2021/May 6, 2022 (estimated)

What is the Least Expensive Ski Resort in Colorado?

The cheapest place to ski in Colorado is Purgatory Resort. With $49 days, the price absolutely can’t be beat. Not to mention, Durango offers a variety of budget-friendly accommodation, ski rentals, and food options too!

What is the Least Crowded Ski Resort in Colorado?

There are several lesser-known ski resorts in Colorado that don’t have tedious lift lines. The least-crowded ski resorts are Ski Cooper, Monarch Mountain, and Crested Butte.

Additional Colorado Winter Travel Resources

Looking to travel to Colorado like a local, not a tourist? Check out these handy resources.

Picture of Meg Atteberry
Meg Atteberry

Meg is a long-time Colorado local and outdoor industry professional. She's spent the last 15 years hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and canyoneering all over Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada in search of the best views. She's written for Outside Magazine, REI, Backpacker Magazine, and appeared on the Weather Channel.

Hi There!

Meg Atteberry standing on a mountain sticking her tongue out

Meg aka Fox is a 30-something who's born to explore. Toddler mom, queer, and neuro-spicy her favorite things to do are climb in the alpine and camp in the desert. Her mission is to get you out on your greatest adventure.