Any ideas to keep our next winter (Western U.S.) ski trip under budget?
March 5, 2012 5:31 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend and I want to spend 2-3 months skiing in the western U.S. for (hopefully way) under $3,000/month. Any ideas for where, when, and how to do this?

Basically, this is just the winter version of this extended ski vacation question, with some added restrictions.

I'm starting to plan and create a budget for next winter's ski trip, but even with some research, I'm realizing I don't quite know where to start.

The "problem" is that my boyfriend and I are really flexible with time, and location; not quite so much with money (but more so, if we start budgeting now).
Also, I don't know much about skiing out west or for that length of time, so I need some help!

What we want:

Western U.S./Canada -- we're in the midwest; eastern skiing is not entirely off the table, but he has family on the west coast and we were going to plan on visiting them, too.
2-3 months -- between November - March
$1200/month (or less!) for housing -- we'll have a car, so staying 20 minutes or so from ski lifts is fine.
Ideally, less than $3000/month -- is that doable? we don't need ski equipment, and we're both okay with roughing it, as far as food and housing is concerned. Lift tickets, housing, food, gas -- am I forgetting anything?

Also, we wouldn't mind working during this vacation, but I don't want to plan on finding employment, especially since we wouldn't be there more than 3 months.

I've looked on (and will continue to keep an eye on it) and some other rental sites, but I haven't found any other great sites or resources for monthly rentals yet, especially for only 2 people.
Obviously, I don't have to find a place to stay right this minute, but I would like to know there are options in our price range.

Haven't tried craigslist, either, mainly because we haven't yet decided where we want to go. Missoula, Montana is the prime contender at the moment, but other suggestions would be great.
posted by bluestocking to Travel & Transportation around Macomb, IL (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Whitefish, MT? A snow bus goes through town so you don't need to drive to the mountain if you don't want. Lift tickets are under $600 for a season pass if you buy early, there are lots of runs at the resort and elsewhere if you are willing to work for the run, and no one I know has had issues finding cheap housing though you may need to pay a premium for a short term lease or pay all rent up front if you won't have a job. (I'm renting a house for $750/month.) If you come to Whitefish, live near the town center, more interesting and doesn't add much to your trip up to the resort. Plus you'd be 2 hours from Missoula
posted by adorap0621 at 5:52 AM on March 5, 2012

That sounds doable. There are lots of ski bums who do it for less. Granted you have two mouths to feed and two lift tickets but you can share accommodations and the car which is luxury to some ski bums.

If you want variety of places to ski you might consider the Vail Resorts' Epic Pass. For right around $600, you'll get unlimited skiing at Lake Tahoe's Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood as well as Colorado's Beaver Creek, Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin. It is the best deal going in terms of variety/cost ratios. Season passes are much higher at remote places with little to no competition like Aspen and Jackson Hole.

There are a few caveats and watchouts to working while bumming. One is that the is plenty of seasonal work at the resort but that usually means starting at the beginning of resort operations. If you start at the beginning of the season I can't see why you wouldn't land a job. It will likely be very difficult to show up in say February and expect an easy time getting a job. Another aspect worth considering is what type of job do you want. The most coveted are bar and food jobs with night shifts (which free your days for skiing). Those of course are a lot harder to come by than say working the lift ticket counter at the resort.

Good luck living the dream...
posted by mmascolino at 5:52 AM on March 5, 2012

Rental rates in Sandy, UT are cheap, as are groceries/etc. You'd be a 20-minute drive from Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton, and about an hour from the Park City Resorts (Deer Valley, Park City, Canyons). And Snow Basin is also about an hour.

I don't know what the season pass situation is for these resorts, like if they have a shared pass system or whatever, but I think being based or Sandy or some of the other cheaper suburbs of Salt Lake will give you the lowest cost of living to do this.

It sounds like a great adventure. Good luck!
posted by Aizkolari at 6:57 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

While at Arapahoe Basin this winter I saw a poster advertising a pass option that had unlimited skiing at A-Basin, a plus few days at Keystone, and a couple more days either at Vail/Beavercreek or Breckenridge. I think it was around $400. I can't seem to find it online anywhere so you might need to call, but at the time we were there for a week and it probably would have been cheaper to get the pass.
posted by halseyaa at 7:19 AM on March 5, 2012

Even cheaper than the Epic Pass, you can ski Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Northstar at Tahoe with the Tahoe Value Pass for $300 with some blackout dates. I don't know what house rentals go for, but there are a bunch of $50-70/night motels within walking distance of the lifts.
posted by asphericalcow at 11:37 AM on March 5, 2012

I, personally, wouldn't pick a spot or buy season tickets early to save a few bucks. This year is epic in BC and Alaska and crappy everywhere else. If this is the one winter you do this, and you don't care where you're skiing as long as its good then leave yourself the flexibility to be where the snows at.
posted by fshgrl at 2:38 PM on March 5, 2012

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