US and Canada Programs Where Kids Learn to Ski Free

Make getting out on the snow your New Year’s resolution with amazing Kids Ski Free and Student Learn To Ski Passes. These free and low-cost passes are available to local (and visiting) schoolchildren in several states. Not only are they unique gifts, they provide great value for family ski and snow vacations.

Family skiing at North Peak of Keystone, Colorado.
Family practises skiing together at North Peak of Keystone in Colorado. Photo c. Vail Resorts

Most states use Kids Ski Free passes to introduce residents to the winter recreation available around them. Developing a lifelong love of snow sports is not only good parenting, it’s good for business. And, in an industry that relies on a healthy climate to survive, the more snow sports enthusiasts, the better.

Sustainable Travel To Small Local Mountain Resorts

Resolve to live and recreate more sustainably in the coming year. The expression “think globally, act locally” applies to teaching our kids snowsports. Encourage them to dream of competing in the X-Games at Aspen, but start them off small at a local mountain.

These small mountains (see our annual Snow Sports Directory) are where the kids ski free passes have the most flexibility and work best. Plus, when you resolve to live more sustainably, that includes reducing your flights, minimizing driving time, and supporting local businesses.

Save Money And Stress At Small Resorts Where Kids Ski Free

There are several reasons neighborhood mountains are good value compared to big destination resorts.

  1. Why not try a new sport when you’ve got very little money to lose? Small resorts are cheap.
  2. Smaller local mountains are also easy to navigate and kid-friendly… just because they’re small.
  3. Never fear losing the kids at one of several base areas. Small ski areas typically have all their learning facilities, equipment rentals, dining and daycare right by the parking lot.
  4. Get cozy. After a few visits, every small resort lift operator will know your name. The cafeteria will remember whether or not you like whipped cream in your hot chocolate.

Not to say we don’t love big mountains. Our roundup of the best mountain resorts for families highlights our favorites. Many have throusands of acres of skiable terrain. And a great mountain like Snowbird in Utah is featuring the first-of-its-kind Kids Freeloader Pass program. Aiming to reduce barriers to entry for snowsports, the Kids Freeloader Pass program gives anyone ages 18 or under a free Snowbird Season Pass when linked to an Adult, Military or Senior Snowbird Summit Pass. Thank you Snowbird!

Free Skiing For Local Kids – State Passports for Free Lessons

Several ski states have reinstated kids ski free “passports” for kids of certain ages allowing them to ski free. There’s no better way than “free” to start your kids on a lifelong love of learning, snowsports and the great outdoors.

We’re delighted to see that many states have resumed their pass programs. Fill out the paperwork, pay a small processing fee and you’re set. Plus, these statewide marketing offices provide thoughtful details, tips and, often, links to discount packages provided by local resorts.

Top Midwest and Western States Kids Ski Free Pass Programs for 2023-2024

Let’s check out the top statewide kids ski free programs for resident and visiting children in the middle of the country.

Michigan Ski Free Passes

Fourth and Fifth graders in Michigan use the MSIA Cold is Cool Passes to harvest three lift tickets or trail passes to 29 areas in the state. The Cold is Cool Passport also includes a coupon for 20% off a helmet purchase and $20 off the purchase of $100 or more gear or clothes at participating ski shops across the state. Some ski areas have also included coupons for equipment rental and free or discounted lessons. Part of the $30 processing fee is donated to charity; note that a paying adult must accompany all students.

Utah Kids Ski Free

In its 25th year, the Ski Utah Passport gives fourth, fifth and sixth graders three days (45 days total) of skiing or riding at each of Utah’s 15 resorts. It costs only $69 through Dec. 1, 2023.

Colorado Ski Passport for Kids

Third through Sixth graders in Colorado are entitled to a CSCUSA Ski Passport that offers four kids ski free tickets at at each of 20 resorts. Plus, the $65 fee includes 2 free Junior daily rental packages from Christy Sports — a bargain for —80 days of free snowsports, woohoo!

Ski Idaho Student Passes

Fifth and Sixth graders In Idaho are encouraged to fall in love with snow sports at 17 mountain resorts. The $29 processing fee covers 3 free days for 5th graders and 2 days for 6th graders at each property. Check your destination’s website for possible blackout dates.

Enjoy a day on the mountain with Maine's WinterKids app and save. Photo c. WinterKids

Top Eastern and Canada Kids Ski Free Passes for 2023-2024

The Northeast, New England and Mid-Atlantic regions encourage student snow sports lovers to visit. Pennsylvania no longer has a state pass, but the trade group SkiPA hosts any deals that local resorts are offering to this age range.

New York Has SkiNY Passport

Third and Fourth graders in New York – The SkiNY Passport Program-Kids Ski Free provides free skiing and snowboarding to kids with every adult purchase (adults may use a season pass), for two visits each season at the 28 participating resorts. Fee is $41; note that some have holiday blackout dates.

Vermont Kingdom Features Kids Ski Free Passes

Fifth graders in Vermont – even out-of-state kids — are welcomed at 44 alpine resorts and cross country ski areas. Ski or ride for 90 days total at participating Vermont resorts for the $30 application fee.

New Hampshire Kids Ski Free Passport

Fourth and fifth graders in New Hampshire and out-of-state grade mates get one free ticket to be used at each of 30+ alpine and cross country mountain resorts. A $59 processing fee applies.

Maine Winter Kids App

Families can register and download Maine’s Winter Kids app (also available for New Hampshire) to save, find free admission tickets, discounted gear rentals and more for alpine skiing, ice skating, and Nordic skiing. Look for great gear and clothes discounts for every family member at ski and snowboard shops all across Maine. Most lift ticket offers cover ages 6-17. A family of five pays $40 for this app.

Canada SnowPass Kids Ski Free Passport

The Canadian Ski Council’s SnowPass (CDN$29.99) allows 4th and 5th graders living in Canada to ski and ride free two times at each of 125 participating ski areas.

The resorts are all across Canada but you only get two free passes at each resort over the lifetime of the SnowPass. Therefore, apply as a 4th grader and make the most of your SnowPass.

Learn to Ski Cheap In Early Season, Late Season, January

three kids sledding in snow
Learning a snow sport means a new whole new variety of fun for the winter.

In addition, many small resorts have “learn free” (or very cheap) days. These bargain days are usually during the early season through mid-December, during January or very late season. Use social media channels to explore which resorts are promoting January programs and when mountain resorts discounts are available.

Getting Started with your Novice Skiers and Riders

The hard part about snowsports is committing to making it part of your family life. Snowsports require special gear, extra warm clothing, a positive attitude and bravery. Yet, we know skiing and snowboarding are sports for a lifetime. Now’s the time to start the family on a path of lifelong learning and pleasure in winter. Our best tips are:

Take it easy!

Make it fun!

That’s the best learn-to-ski advice we ever got. Once you’ve found a nearby ski hill, plan a day trip on a relatively warm day. Watch carefully to see how the kids or adults in your group enjoy a new sport. If you’re having fun, plan a weekend outing next so you can relax together after a vigorous workout on the slopes. Some family hostels near mountain resorts with super cheap lodging even have lift ticket discounts at nearby ski resorts.

These locally run and operated day resorts will invariably be cheaper than the bigger, more famous ones. And if you can visit mid-week, the package vacation values are tremendous.

Let us know your favorite local hill!

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