Skiing and snowboarding are seldom a steal, but resorts are waving around all sorts of lodging and lift ticket deals this season.
Here is a sampling of some of the most promising offers, from free birthday passes to discounted season passes. Note that mid-December and late January are good times to find value and that the best offers — and shortest lift lines — happen midweek. Restrictions almost always apply:
Jackson Hole, Wyo.: Until Dec. 23, buy a two-day lift ticket at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for $74 a person a day and receive two free nights of lodging, based on four people in a one-bedroom condominium in the Aspens. Lift and lodging must be purchased through Jackson Hole Resort Lodging, Info: http://www.jhrl.com/
Mountain High: The ultra-popular Wrightwood resort offers eight hours of free skiing on a customer's birthday, with valid ID. Also check out a lift ticket six-pack for $199 that comes to $33 a ticket, compared with the usual $59. Purchase at Sport Chalet, Big 5, Sports Authority, or at http://www.mthigh.com/deal/6-pack. The six-pack is not available at the resort;
Mt. Waterman: The little resort north of La Cañada Flintridge is offering a $100 season pass for kids younger than 16. To purchase, call (619) 708-6595.
Park City Mountain Resort: An extra-day package includes three nights' accommodations with a fourth night free, daily breakfast for two and two three-day adult lift tickets. Rates start at $115 a person per night, based on double occupancy. Info: http://www.parkcitymountain.com.
Snow Valley: This San Bernardino Mountain resort, known as a good learners hill, offers rental, lessons and lift tickets from $69 on weekdays, $85 on weekends and holidays. http://www.snow-valley.com/rates/learning_packages.html
Kirkwood: The Tahoe resort has teamed with Alpine Meadows and Homewood on the "Triple Threat College Pass" for college students, with some holiday restrictions; $329 for a seven-day pass and $199 for a midweek pass valid Mondays-Fridays; http://www.kirkwood.com/site/
Deer Valley: A "ski, stay and dine" deal gives 25% off lodging and lift tickets, plus one night free and one free day of skiing for paying adults and a $50 dining certificate for any of Deer Valley's evening restaurants. Also, Deer Valley is offering a learn-to-ski package with 25% off lodging, adult ski rentals and two semi-private group lessons. Both valid Jan. 2-12. http://www.deervalley.com/lodging/winter-lodging-packages-and-specials
Silver Star: Park City family package includes five nights' slope-side lodging for two adults and two kids with the fifth night complimentary, plus two adult four-day lift tickets. Discounted children's lift tickets and ski rentals are also available. Rates start at $3,917, based on a family of four; five-night minimum stay required. Blackout dates and restrictions apply. http://www.resortswest.com/family-value-package
Other money-saving ideas include checking resort websites for deals, including early-bird ticket/hotel discounts, skiing midweek when lifts and hotels can cost less. And buying a cheaper half-day ticket available at some resorts and skiing without breaks.
Some ski venues offer no-cost lift tickets to entice travelers. Big White Ski Resort in Kelowna, Canada, allows children younger than 5 to ski, tube and skate for free all season. Complimentary mountain tours with experienced snow hosts are also offered every morning and afternoon to familiarize skiers with the resort's trails.
Similarly, Mt. Bachelor near Bend, Ore., permits kids up to 18 to ski free all season with the purchase of one adult multiday ticket. Big Tupper in the New York Adirondacks lets active duty military members ski for free all season.
To save money, consider booking lodging away from the slopes. Staying in Salt Lake City when you ski Utah lets you take advantage of affordable urban motels offering significant savings compared with higher-priced mountain lodging.
For gear, consider looking on Ebay and Steepandcheap.com, which offers daily discounts on many ski-specific gear items such as sunglasses, insulated pants and more.
Staff writer Chris Erskine contributed to this report.