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Parks & Outdoors

Got Skiing Sticker Shock? Here’s How To Save a Few Bucks Skiing Tahoe

Written by Sarah Wright, Maryann Jones ThompsonResearch by Shelley D. FargoPublished Dec. 22, 2022 • 11:30am
Skiiers line up at Boreal Mountain near Lake Tahoe over Thanksgiving weekend in 2021. | Michael Ho Wai Lee/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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Skiing is expensive—just one day at Palisades Tahoe can top $250 during the holiday season, not to mention the more than one grand a season pass costs nowadays. That’s a lot of avocado toast!

But with snowpack building and cold temps helping with snowmaking, it’ll be worth your while to find a way up the mountain this winter, even if your wallet says otherwise. So we’ve compiled some tips from longtime Tahoe enjoyers on how to get the most bang for your buck this season.

And before you make any top-dollar purchases, make sure to check Reddit or Facebook groups like this one or the app’s marketplace feature, where people are often offering cheap gear and rides and even ski buddies!

How To Get Cheaper Lift Tickets

Buy Ahead

If you missed the boat for an Ikon or Epic pass, most resorts let you buy small bundles of three to four tickets ahead of time to save money—but make sure you check for any blackout dates or exemptions! 

Go Midweek

For cheap tickets at Tahoe’s best resorts, skip the crowded weekends and long lift lines and head up on Tuesday or Wednesday, when lift ticket prices are the lowest.

Explore New Spots

Try a new mountain to save some cash on your day pass. Smaller spots are cheaper (duh) but might be fun for a change—the gap between the most expensive and cheapest lift ticket is a big one.

Snag Promo Deals

Palisades Tahoe has one of the sweetest beginner deals in the market. The Perfect Progression Program offers brand-new skiers three beginner lessons with lift tickets, lunch vouchers and rentals included for just $699. But here’s the best part: If you complete the program, you get a season pass (which retails for $1,500), too.

Also, Sports Basement Basmenteers ($25 annual membership) get up to 30% off single-day Palisades Tahoe lift tickets. Get a promo code at any Sports Basement location. If you plan to ski at Palisades Tahoe, it's a no-brainer to become a Basementeer for $25. You save $10 on day one, then up to an additional $35/weekday and $58/weekend per day starting on the second day. 

Find a Cheap Ride Up the Mountain

Sports Basement Bus 

Don’t have a car? Don’t worry. Leave the driving to Sports Basement so you can sleep (or socialize) on the road. For $95, you get a round trip fully stocked with breakfast, coffee and apres-ski beer. But be prepared to rise and shine long before the sun does, as buses leave from the Bay Area at 5 a.m.

SnowPals/Tahoe Ski Trip

Sports Basement isn’t the only game in town. Tahoe Ski Trips and SnowPals are two other Bay Area communities offering rides and shared housing at group rates. 

Amtrak

Got a lot of time to kill? Mosey up to Tahoe on Amtrak’s California Zephyr, one of the most scenic train routes in America. Pick it up in Emeryville and get off in either Truckee or Reno for access to the best local resorts. 

Get Cheap Ski Rentals

Sports Basement/REI Season Rentals

If you don’t have your own gear, that’s another added cost. And while it might be convenient, try to avoid renting day-of at resorts, where they’ll charge an on-mountain premium. Instead, consider seasonlong rentals from Sports Basement or REI, which each offer packages for any level.

Tahoe Rentals

If you’re taking the train or have limited car space, there are ample ski shops scattered throughout Tahoe, like Tahoe Dave’s and Village Ski Loft that have reasonable rental rates plus the latest ski and snowboard models to demo.

Buy in Spring

And if you’re in the market to buy, wait until the spring and DON’T buy online! Most Tahoe retailers will have massive blowout sales of the previous season’s new or demo skis marked at least 40% to 50% off. 

Read through the table below for more ideas on how to save on lift tickets at each ski resort near Lake Tahoe.

More Ideas for Cheaper Skiing in Tahoe

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Questions, comments or concerns about this article may be sent to inf[email protected]


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