By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
Ready to take your son or daughter to the slopes? Children who enjoy skiing, are just starting out, or want to learn to ski can take advantage of programs across the country designed to get them on the slopes — for free. Many ski resorts throughout the United States participate in state ski association programs offer free skiing for kids. These programs are designed to get children outside to enjoy active play while also seeing some science concepts in action.
When we wrote about Pennsylvania’s free Snowpass program the response to that post was so positive we wondered what other states offered similar programs. We are happy to report that there are at least seven other programs in the United States that offer free skiing for kids. These programs provide season-long passes for children in certain grades — third through sixth — to ski or snowboard at multiple ski areas. Best of all, these programs are open to ALL students in those grades, no matter where they live, so not only can you make a road trip to a nearby resort, you also could work in some skiing during your winter vacation or spring break.
Specific offers vary by program, but generally speaking:
- The free ski or snowboard passes are for children with one paying adult (usually a full-day lift ticket).
- Some programs also offer a one-time lesson package, often with free equipment rental.
- There are usually some black-out dates, and some ski resorts may have their own scheduling.
- Proof of grade level is required; you can submit a report card or school document showing the current school grade.
- Participants can apply online, uploading the proof of grade and child photo.
- Passes have yearly processing fees (usually under $40, less than the cost of one day of skiing).Upon enrolling, most programs will mail you a card, booklet, or “passport” within a week or two.
- There are other programs — such as Maine’s WinterKids Passport — that have residency requirements. Our list below, however, focuses on those state programs that are open to all.
Free (or almost free) Skiing for Kids – Programs by age
Third grade: New York
Fourth grade: Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New York
Fifth grade: Colorado, Idaho, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Washington
Sixth grade: Idaho, Utah
Free (or almost free) Skiing for Kids – Programs by state
|Colorado Ski Country USA’s fifth and sixth grade Passport Program provides participants with three free days of skiing or snowboarding at each of its 21 member resorts. The program is completely free, with no administrative fees. There’s also a sixth grade Passport Program that provides participants with four days of skiing or snowboarding at each resort for just $130 for the season.|
Ski Free Passport
5th and 6th grades
|Ski Idaho and its Ski Free Passport allows all fifth and sixth graders to ski or ride free at 18 Idaho ski locations. Pay a one-time $18 processing fee and you’ll receive an e-mail with your passport that gives your fifth grader three free days at all 18 locations, and your sixth grader two free days at 16 participating locations. See details on the Ski Idaho FAQ page.|
4th and 5th grades
|New Hampshire’s SkiNH Snowsports Passport is for fourth and fifth graders. Each Ski NH downhill and cross country ski area member contributes one free lift ticket or trail pass for your fourth or fifth grader plus one additional offer. These offers can include savings on first-time and beginner lessons or equipment rentals for your fourth or fifth grader, or savings on lift tickets and trail passes for parents and siblings. The fee for the Snowsports Passport is $30.|
I Ski NY
3rd and 4th grades
|Enjoy winter in New York with the I Ski NY Learn to Ski Passport program and the Kids Ski Free Passport program. Both programs are open to third or fourth graders from anywhere in the world. With the Learn to Ski or Ride program ($31 processing fee), a child receives a lift ticket, lesson, and equipment rental free at 20 participating ski areas in New York State. With the Ski or Ride Free program (also $31), a child receives up to three free lift tickets at 20 participating ski areas when accompanied by a paying adult.|
4th and 5th grade
|Pennsylvania invites fourth and fifth graders everywhere to sign up for the Snowpass free ski program ($40 administrative fee). The Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association provides each child with three lift tickets for each of the 19 participating resorts, plus a one first-time ski or snowboard package (which includes a lesson, rental equipment, and access to the beginner lift). Another perk: half-off the price on a first-time package (beginner lift, lesson and rental equipment) for an accompanying adult.|
Ski Utah Passport
5th and 6th grade
|The Ski Utah Passport program lets kids fifth graders ski or ride free three times at each of 14 resorts, and lets sixth graders may ski or ride free once at each resort. Each program has a $45 processing fee. The program is now all digital so you don’t have to carry the program booklet. See details on the Ski Utah FAQ page.|
Fifth Grade Passport
|The Green Mountain state offers fifth graders everywhere the chance to ski for free. Passport holders receive a booklet with coupons for free alpine lift tickets or cross-country trail passes at each resort (three coupons for alpine resorts, and either one or three coupons for Nordic centers, depending on the resort). The processing fee is $20.|
Ski Free Passport
|If you’re in the 5th grade, no matter where you live, you can ski or ride for free at any participating Ski the Northwest Rockies ski area with the 5th Grade Ski Free Passport Program. The passport allows fifth-graders to ski or snowboard for free three days at each participating Ski the Northwest Rockies resort. The processing fee is $20.|