Courtesy of Mountain Riders Alliance

Tahoe doesn’t have to break the bank—try these tricks to save money buying lift tickets

David Curran, SFGate  – March 1, 2019 | Updated March 12, 2019

With this year’s epic snowfall, a skiing or snowboarding trip to the Sierra is awfully tempting. But for many, lift-ticket prices may appear too out of reach to actually head up there. Once someone realizes that Squaw Valley is over $150 per day, they pretty much shut down the whole idea of hitting the slopes.

But the fact is, there are plenty of deals to be had if you want to ski for less. And with the ski season looking like it is going to extend through June in the Tahoe area,  it is worth seeing what’s available.

No question, the season pass is the best way to go if you plan on skiing several days, especially the early-bird season passes. Here are some season pass prices you could have gotten for the 2018-19 season, if you had been able to afford such an upfront expense. To get in on such a deal for the 2019-20 season, the IKON season pass for Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows will be starting as low as $649 and going on sale on March 5. That is months of skiing for less than the price of 5-day passes to Squaw. And other resorts will be advertising their pass deals soon as well.

But, if you aren’t one to plan many months ahead and just want to ski a day or two, there are other ways to avoid paying full retail. First of all, buying online will save you money over buying at the ticket window.

Buying seven days ahead can save you even more significantly. At Sugar Bowl, buying a weekday ticket is $113 online, but if you buy seven days in advance, it can fall to as low as $67.99.

And then there are the specials. For example, at Mount Rose there is Two-fer Tuesday.  And at Diamond Peak, you can ski for free on your birthday. And many resorts have deals for members of the military.

Almost as importantly, if you are not an expert skier, you can ski for well under $100 per day routinely. No, you can’t enjoy the amazing terrain of Squaw or Heavenly, but if you can’t ski down the steep and the deep anyways, what does it matter? Instead, just shell out $40 and head to Donner Ski Ranch for Old Time Days.

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