10 Ways to Stretch Your NH Ski Vacation Dollar
It’s no secret that New Hampshire is a fantastic destination for a ski getaway, and there are plenty of ways to let your budget take you further down the trail. There are ways to save on lift passes, lodging, dining — and let’s not forget the great tax-free shopping.
Here’s a few of our favorite ways to enjoy a New Hampshire ski vacation without breaking the bank.
Get A Job
Working at a ski area has its benefits. Among them, free or discounted skiing and snowboarding. For example, new hires at Vail Resorts in New Hampshire (including Mount Sunapee, Wildcat Mountain, Attitash Mountain and Crotched Mountain), get a free EPIC pass to all Vail resorts, and discounted lodging at all of its resort properties. Spend a year working at Gunstock and you’ll earn perks like a season pass for you or a family member, and discount passes throughout many other New England ski areas. It’s almost enough to make you consider new career options.
Get Free Skis
You read that right — free skis. Pats Peak’s Passport Program PLUS ($389) gets you four Skier Starter Special Packages, and on the fourth day of the program you’ll get a free Pats Peak Unlimited Season Pass, free Elan skis (sizes 146-160cm) with bindings and 50% off additional group lessons. Also at Pats Peak, take advantage of the Pay-One-Price (POP) Saturday night — discounted access to lifts, rentals, lesson tips, tubing, entertainment and more from 3 p.m.
to 10 p.m.
This winter, kids can get up on their skis and boards for a lot less. The $30 passport provides one ticket to each of Ski New Hampshire’s 32 member sites. Provide proof-of-grade (a current report card, progress report, letter from the school, screenshot of school account log-in), place your order, print your voucher and point the car north. The promotion is open to any fourth or fifth grader — no particular state residency is required.
Many ski areas offer deals for active-duty military and their families. King Pine at Purity Spring Resort, in Madison, offers an Early Season Military Special (all active-duty and dependents ski/ride for free and retired/veteran ski/ride for free until Dec. 24); and a regular Military Appreciation Discount — $10 off regular all-day lift tickets for active-duty and veteran/retired military. Wildcat’s Peak Military Card, valid at all northeast Peak Resorts, provides 25% off weekends
and holidays and 40% off mid-week non-holiday lift tickets.
Learn and Save
January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, and many ski areas throughout the state celebrate by offering discounted lift, lessons and rentals for beginners interested in giving it a try. Last season, packages ranged from $19 to $39. Offerings range from inexpensive how-to sessions — which can set the stage for a lifetime of successful skiing and boarding — to complete packages, including passes, lessons and rentals, for as low as $39. Bretton Woods, among other specials, offered a Learn to Ski and Ride Free Week, which included equipment rental, ski or snowboard lessons, a Learning Center lift ticket valid for the day of the lesson and additional discounts. Each ski area’s plans and restrictions are different, so check with your favorite destination and bring along a newbie.
Be A Clock Watcher and Online Deal Maker
Getting a late start can help you save. At Loon Mountain, for example, afternoon tickets are available starting at noon for $10 off the full rate.
An alternative tactic is looking for last-minute or advance purchase ticket deals from the individual resort’s website, or through discounts sites such as Liftopia that offer last-minute lift and lodging deals on New Hampshire ski resorts.
Skip the Big Game
Not a football fan? Many ski areas offer half-day deals or discounted rates to lure skiers and snowboarders north on Super Bowl Sunday. The game doesn’t start until nearly 6:20 p.m., which means there’s plenty of time for some great runs before kickoff. In the past, ski areas like Cannon Mountain and Bretton Woods have offered discounted lift tickets, Gunstock featured a Family 4-Pack deal and Pats Peak hosted an après-ski promotion. Wildcat Mountain has offered $35 lift tickets on the day of the big game. Skip the pregame buildup and focus instead on making first tracks on a day when the trails are historically light on attendance anyway.
Season passes are often the best value if you plan to ski more than a few times during the season. There are a wide variety of combinations, flavors and varieties of season passes designed to fit any age, schedule or need. The College New England Pass gets students unlimited access to Loon Mountain (as well as Sunday River and Sugarloaf),
starting at $269; an Uphill-Only Season Pass at Black Mountain is $99; and King Pine offers a $10 Tuesday Night Skiing and Snowboarding pass. To get the most value from a season pass, it’s best to invest early. Additionally, most ski areas offer early-bird savings for skiiers and snowboarders who get their passes early in the season, or before the flakes even begin to fly.
Bring the Little Ones
In many cases, it’s free (or almost free), so why not? Waterville Valley offers a kids ski free pass: Purchase a 2019-2020 Waterville Valley Adult Season Plus Pass (unlimited skiing and riding the entire season with no blackout dates — $1,078 any time after Oct. 15) and you’ll get a voucher for a free Junior Season Pass valid for any child age 6 to 12. At ski areas like Bretton Woods, kids four and under ski free with a paying adult; at Gunstock, Loon and Waterville Valley, kids five and under ski free. Cannon has a five-and-under season pass for $39 and a White Mountain Child Superpass, with purchase of an Adult Superpass — providing access to Bretton Woods, Cranmore, Cannon and Waterville Valley with no blackouts — is just $50 for the season.
Spend your later years on the slopes. Many ski areas have great deals for the more experienced among us, including at McIntyre Ski Area in Manchester, where anyone 65 and older skis free. Black Mountain offers discounted Senior Passes for anyone 65 to 75, and a Super Senior Pass for anyone 75 and older; Bretton Woods has mid-week/non holiday senior passes for $29; Gunstock Mountain Resort’s Golden Pass, for anyone 70 and older, is a slim $25 for the season; the Dartmouth Skiway allows Super Seniors 80 and older to ski free.