As anyone who's spent a day at a Colorado resort can tell you, the cost of skiing can be as steep as those double-diamond slopes. But there are some good deals, starting with a free cup of hot cocoa at Copper Mountain's patrol headquarters during January, which is National Safety Month. Here are ten more:
1. Ruby Hill Rail Yard
Winter Park Resort and Denver Parks & Recreation have teamed up to offer free skiing and snowboarding at the country's only urban terrain park, in the heart of Ruby Hill. Ruby Hill Rail Yard opened for the eleventh season earlier this month and will stay open until the end of February, weather permitting. And not only is access to the park free, but Christy Sports also offers free equipment on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The park is open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Ruby Hill Rail Yard is lit from dusk to 9 p.m. Find out more here.
2. Howelson Hill
Ready to head to the hills with those newfound skills? Howelson Hill, Colorado's oldest continuously operated ski areas (since 1915!), is owned and operated by the City of Steamboat Springs and
offers free days several times a year. Not only is skiing at Howelson a great no-frills introduction to the sport, but on free days the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club offers free lessons to never-ever skiers. The next free ski day is February 26, but Howelson Hill is a low-cost option throughout the season. Find out more here.
Want some more old-school ski experiences? Powderhorn offers free overnight camping in its parking lot to anyone willing to brave a night of chilly temperatures — and the next morning, you get free uphill access to hit that fresh powder. For more information, go to powderhorn.com.
4. Arapahoe Basin
During the season, Arapahoe Basin partners with local ski and snowboard companies to provide free demos; guests can sign up the day of the deals in the base area — where they can then party at the end of the ski day. Find a schedule of free demo days and other deals at arapahoebasin.com.
5. Winter Park Resort
After the lifts close, Winter Park Village offers a slew of free family-friendly activities, including ice skating, broom ball and campfire sing-alongs complete with free hot apple cider on Wednesdays. For adults looking for a little bliss, Winter Park hosts free yoga at the Hill House every Sunday from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m. Find more information on all of these activities at winterparkresort.com.
6. Wolf Creek Ski Area
Want to ski untracked power? Wolf Creek runs the Horseshoe Bowl Snowcat Shuttle, which picks up skiers and riders at the Dog Chutes and takes them to the Horseshoe Bowl — free of charge. The snowcat shuttle usually runs after storm cycles and on busy holiday weekends. Check the schedule at wolfcreekski.com.
7. Loveland Ski Area
For more challenging skiing, hop on the free eighteen-passenger Ridge Cat at Loveland. The Ridge Cat provides access to Field of Dreams, Velvet Hammer, Tickler, Marmot and Golden Bear when conditions permit. But in addition to a lift ticket or season pass, you'll need to grab a free Ridge Cat Pass at the Loveland Basin ticket office. Find out more here.
8. Telluride Ski Resort
It's not easy or cheap getting to Telluride, but once you finally arrive, take advantage of a complimentary mountain tour offered by a Telluride Ski Resort host. The tour departs daily at 10 a.m. from the top of the Coonskin Lift (Lift 7) and lasts for approximately two and a half hours. Get the details at tellurideskiresort.com.
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9. Hesperus Ski Area
While Telluride is not for novices, Hesperus Ski Area is a good place to take up the sport — particularly because it offers first-time skiers and snowboarders up to three free lessons with the purchase of one full-day, full-price lift ticket for $39. This offer is available every day during the season; find out more here.
10. Aspen Snowmass
Aspen is still Colorado's most legendary resort, and you can get the place (almost) to yourself through the First Tracks program for Aspen Mountain or Snowmass. Space is limited, so you must sign up the night before — and then you'll get to be the first person on the mountain. For more information, visit aspensnowmass.com.
For even more deals, go to the Colorado Ski Country website.