How to Save Money Traveling To The Best Ski Resorts

Patrick Surry - Jan. 31, 2016

Summary:

  • The Colorado ski destinations, served by Denver, are your best bet to save money on airfare for your ski trip, with good prices from a typical US destination around $300 round trip.

  • Average round trip flight prices to Utah (SLC), Stowe, VT (BTV),  Taos (ABQ) or Squaw (RNO, SMF) are around $400.

  • In general, the best prices are found in late January to early February. Prices (and demand) spike in the mid-February school vacation week, and peak in mid-March, before falling gradually at the tail end of the season.

  • For best prices, book your ticket between one to two months ahead; prices typically begin to rise sharply from two to four weeks prior to departure.

  • Skiers in major metros have some cheap flight options such as Dallas to Denver for under $120, Chicago to Denver or New York to Vermont for about $150, and San Francisco to Salt Lake under $170.

Where to Fly

In order to identify the top ski resorts in the U.S. and Canada, we asked the experts at Outside Magazine to curate a list of their picks for best ski resorts.

Flight prices to each of these destinations vary depending on your origin so we created an interactive map to help you determine flight prices from your home airport.  The green icons mark the cheapest airports and the red icons mark the most expensive airports. Clicking on the airport will bring you to Hopper’s report on how to get the best prices.

Hopper & Outside Magazine’s Ski Planner

Outside Magazine & Hopper's Ski Planner

 Ski resorts as selected by Outside Magazine, shown with nearby airports.  Interactive version available at http://www.hopper.com/flights/tools/outsideski/.   Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 10.01.27 AM

Figure 1:  Weighted average “good deal” price from all US domestic origins to ski destination airports.

Lighter dots show full-season average prices for last winter; dark dots are average “good deal” prices to date for the upcoming ski season. Hopper’s “good deal” means that the best 10% of flight search results are at or below that price.

Destination

Airport

2015 Popularity

Good Deal Price 2015

Good Deal Price 2014

Denver

DEN

33.8%

$314

$285

Burlington

BTV

1.4%

$370

$394

Reno

RNO

4.7%

$409

$406

Albuquerque

ABQ

3.3%

$423

$400

Salt Lake City

SLC

15.5%

$433

$378

Sacramento

SMF

4.2%

$436

$403

Santa Fe

SAF

0.7%

$491

$477

Crested Butte

GUC

0.5%

$505

$591

Bozeman

BZN

3.4%

$509

$501

Helena

HLN

0.3%

$525

$537

Idaho Falls

IDA

0.4%

$569

$632

Jackson

JAC

3.7%

$572

$532

Aspen

ASE

2.4%

$576

$604

Cody

COD

0.2%

$591

$615

Montreal

YUL

7.2%

$645

$586

Vancouver

YVR

18.2%

$716

$645

When to Fly

Overall, average prices for last winter’s ski season (Jan through May 2014) look higher because they include last minute bookings, whereas prices for this year’s season haven’t started rising yet. In general, the best prices are in late January and early February. Prices (and demand) are already higher for the February school vacation week and increase to a peak around the middle of March with a gradual decline thereafter. Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 10.05.23 AM

Figure 2:  Weighted average domestic airfare price across all destinations.

When to Buy

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 10.08.00 AM

Figure 3: Weighted average good deal price from US origins as a function of how many days before departure you book.

Solid lines are based on all 2014 winter travel, dotted lines show 2015 to-date which is biased towards shopping for more expensive early winter departures.

Here’s when you should book in order to score the good deal price:

ABQ  - $321 about 1 month ahead ASE  - $518 about 1 month ahead BTV - $285 about 2 months ahead BZN - $438 about 3 weeks ahead COD - $446 about 2 months ahead DEN - $243 about 3 weeks ahead GUC - $511 about 3 months ahead HLN - $406 about 2 months ahead IDA - $483 about 1 month ahead JAC - $468 about 1 month ahead RNO - $350 about 1 month ahead SAF - $396 about 2 months ahead SLC - $320 about 1 month ahead SMF - $327 about 1 month ahead YUL - $460 about 3 weeks ahead YVR - $539 about 6 months ahead

Top 5 Destinations from Specific Origins

Origin

Destination

Airport

Good Deal Price 2015

Map: http://www.hopper.com/flights/tools/outsideski/?origin=DFW&embed=om

DFW

Denver

DEN

$116

DFW

Albuquerque

ABQ

$229

DFW

Salt Lake City

SLC

$306

DFW

Reno

RNO

$307

DFW

Sacramento

SMF

$312

Map: http://www.hopper.com/flights/tools/outsideski/?origin=ORD&embed=om

ORD

Denver

DEN

$150

ORD

Salt Lake City

SLC

$246

ORD

Burlington

BTV

$313

ORD

Reno

RNO

$352

ORD

Albuquerque

ABQ

$380

Map: http://www.hopper.com/flights/tools/outsideski/?origin=SFO&embed=om

SFO

Salt Lake City

SLC

$165

SFO

Denver

DEN

$213

SFO

Sacramento

SMF

$237

SFO

Bozeman

BZN

$242

SFO

Reno

RNO

$286

New York City (Best of EWR, JFK or LGA)

Map: http://www.hopper.com/flights/tools/outsideski/?origin=JFK&embed=om

EWR

Burlington

BTV

$153

LGA

Denver

DEN

$246

JFK

Albuquerque

ABQ

$257

LGA

Montreal

YUL

$294

LGA

Salt Lake City

SLC

$326

LGA

Sacramento

SMF

$358

  If your home airport isn’t listed, plug it into the Ski Planner map for flight pricing information.

Data and Methodology

The data presented in this analysis comes from Hopper’s combined feed of Global Distribution System (GDS) data sources which includes about 10 million flight search queries and several billion priced round trip flights per day. Demand is represented as the number of queries not actual ticket purchases, and is calibrated across all GDS sources for each market. The top ski resorts were curated by the editors of Outside Magazine.

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