12 Fantastic Ski Resorts in North America with Lift Tickets Less Than $40

Ski or snowboard in the U.S. and Canada for one-fifth the price of famous resorts.

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At many of the biggest and most famous ski resorts in North America, it costs more than a day at Disney World to get in line at the lifts — and that’s before renting skis or taking lessons. The more skiers a place serves, the more likely you’ll find high prices.

Sure, you get more lifts and trails for that $209 lift ticket at Vail than you do at some small ski hill, but sometimes you don’t really need a six-mountain resort with four lodges. If your family is new to skiing or you simply want to save some money*, smaller, more manageable snow resort areas, like those we’re covering here, will likely be a much better fit.

*All prices listed in USD.

The Most Affordable Ski Mountains in North America

1. Cochran’s Ski Area – Vermont

Lift Ticket Price: $10-$19

Only one Vermont ski resort out of 20 manages to squeak below the $40 lift ticket price all week long, and that’s Cochran’s. Billed as “the nation’s first IRS 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt ski area,” this non-profit wants to make sure every child who wants to learn to ski is able to.

The mountain actually lowered its prices for 2020, and adults can walk up to the ticket window and pay $19 on weekends and $10 on weekdays. Plus, kids are able to ski mid-week for just $8. No time machine needed!

Explore Cochran Ski Area

2. The Little Ski Hill — Idaho

Lift Ticket Price: $20

The Payette Lakes Ski Club operates this resort two miles from McCall, in the same county as two giant, more well-known ski destinations. However, you can get a season pass at the Little Ski Hill for about what you’d spend for just two days at one of those big resorts.

There are only six trails, but this little hill has produced several Olympic athletes since its founding in 1937. Plus, it has night skiing available, and you’ll pull just $20 out of your wallet to hit the slopes.

Explore The Little Ski Hill

3. Cottonwood Butte Ski Area — Idaho

Lift Ticket Price: $20

Idaho actually has three family-friendly, $20-per-day ski mountains in close proximity within the northern Panhandle region. Cottonwood Butte has the longest vertical drop of the three, at 845 feet. Its two lifts serve 260 skiable acres, and it offers rentals, lessons and Friday night skiing.

Explore Cottonwood Butte Ski Area

4. Howelsen Hill Ski Area – Colorado

Lift Ticket Price: $30

Located in, and operated by, the town of Steamboat Springs, this ski area functions as a training center for many top winter sports athletes, but it’s open to the public for just $30 for adults and $20 for kids.

The 17 runs are served by one chairlift and three rope tows, but there’s nowhere else in Colorado you can hit the slopes for anywhere close to this price. Plus, you can say you’ve skied at “North America’s oldest operating ski resort.”

Explore Howelsen Hill Ski Area

5. Magic Mountain Ski Resort — Idaho

Lift Ticket Price: $33

This ski area, which is about a 90-minute drive from Boise, or a 75-minute drive from Twin Falls, is magic for two reasons: 230 inches of snow annually and a full-day adult lift ticket price of just $33. Magic Mountain Ski Resort has 20 trails and a terrain park, with three lifts that seldom have much of a line.

Explore Magic Mountain Ski Resort

6. Eagle Point Resort— Utah

Lift Ticket Price: $39

Eagle Point Resort is the only ski destination in Utah that comes in under $40 for a one-day lift ticket. And to get that price, you have to come on a Monday or be up for some spring skiing from late March on.

This is a serious mountain though, with a vertical drop of 1,500 feet, four chairlifts and 40 trails. Note that you can save a few bucks by buying lift tickets online in advance.

Explore Eagle Point Resort

7. Maverick Mountain – Montana

Lift Ticket Price: $39

Maverick’s lift ticket prices are the same $39 on weekdays or weekends. This is one of the mightiest mountains on this list, with a vertical drop of 2,020 feet from a summit of 8,520 feet.

There’s just one chair lift and a rope tow serving the 24 trails, but you probably won’t be waiting long in this southwestern corner of the state. Additionally, rentals are a reasonable $20 a day for skis, boots and poles.

Explore Maverick Mountain

8. Loch Lomond – Ontario

Lift Ticket Price: $31

Near Thunder Bay, Ontario, Loch Lomond has a one-day ticket price that barely makes the under-$40 cut. However, if you buy online, the price drops by as much as 40%. Three chairlifts serve 17 runs going down a 751-foot vertical drop. Plus, there are moguls and double-black-diamond options to challenge experts.

Explore Loch Lomond

9. Mont Cascades – Ontario

Lift Ticket Price: $32 or less

Located just 20 minutes from Canada’s capital of Ottawa, this is a great getaway resort that’s only about $32 at the ticket window, and even less online in advance. The elevation is only 1,286 feet, but the vertical drop is almost half of that figure.

Also, the resort is open for nearly four months a year. A rope tow and four lifts serve the 20 trails, 10 of which are blue square intermediate for fast cruising. At night, you’ll find 15 open, lighted trails.

Explore Mont Cascades

10. Camp Fortune – Ontario

Lift Ticket Price: $36

A short drive from Ottawa, Camp Fortune has been at it for a century now and boasts a long snow season aided by snowmaking. It has five chairlifts serving 23 runs, and there are two terrain parks, as well. Prices are a uniform $36 throughout the week. They also offer night skiing, with 50% off those tickets on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Explore Camp Fortune

11. Camden Snow Bowl – Maine

Lift Ticket Price: $33

On the coast of Maine, Camden Snow Bowl is billed as “the only East Coast ski destination with ocean views.” This community-owned resort has been hosting skiers for more than 60 years and has plenty of options for everyone with 26 runs, two terrain parks, cross-country skiing and a toboggan course — which hosts the U.S. National Toboggan Championships.

Weekend rates do break our $40 mark (barely), but weekday walk-up lift tickets are just $33 for adults, or $23 from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Explore Camden Snow Bowl

12. Woods Valley Ski Area – New York

Lift Ticket Price: $31

This central New York ski mountain has been operating for a half-century and can guarantee snow when it’s cold thanks to a legion of snow-making equipment. On weekends, you can ski for up to seven hours for less than $40, and on weekdays, seven-hour tickets are just $31. This provides access to 21 mostly short trails served by two chairlifts and four rope tows.

Explore Woods Valley Ski Area

Alternative Inexpensive Ski Options

Looking for more ski areas with cheap lift tickets? You can often find good rates at a southern or Midwestern ski hill with a very short season. Alternatively, look for lower weekday or afternoon-only rates at bigger resorts. And if you’re coming for more than one day, you may be able to bring the daily price down with package deals.

Finally, keep in mind that high lift-ticket prices often correlate to high lodging and restaurant prices, and vice versa. So if you hit any of the slopes we’ve featured here for a getaway, the whole vacation will probably keep you — and your wallet — happy.


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Tim Leffel

Tim Leffel is an award-winning travel writer and editor who runs the Cheapest Destinations Blog and Perceptive Travel. He is the author of five books, including The World's Cheapest Destinations--now in its 5th edition--and A Better Life for Half the Price. He has also contributed to a wide variety of publications such as USA Today, Lonely Planet, American Way, Global Traveler, and Outside Online.

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