Great places to ski for $50 or less

One thing that keeps me away from snow skiing, other than being lousy at it, is the high cost. Factor in the cost of renting skis, boots, poles and a lift ticket, along with meals, drinks, getting there, and possibly lodging and more assorted gear, and a day on the slopes can run into hundreds of dollars.

If you own your equipment, the cost can be a lot less, but there's always the expensive lift ticket, at least on weekends. A recent New York Times story on less costly lift tickets has some excellent ideas for places to get a lift up the mountain for $50 or less for a day, and I did some research on my own and found more places. I did my search among California resorts, but do an Internet search of your area to find more.

Remember, these prices are for adults skiing on weekends. They don't include discounts on weekdays or for seniors or children. Most of these ski areas are at lesser-known areas and not at the bigger resorts.

Liftopia.com is a good place to start, offering discounted lift tickets across the country. OnTheSnow.com is a great place to start looking ski resort prices around the world.

Here are some listed in the Times article. My California picks will follow.

Camden Snow Bowl, Camden, Me. $33. This place is home to the United States National Toboggan Championships on Feb. 6-8 this season.

Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort, Vadito, N.M. $39. It also offers lessons and rentals for ski biking. It has plenty of deals and gives free lift tickets to skiers under 6, fourth-graders, 70 and older, and 40-year-olds.

Ski Cooper, Leadville, Colo. $42. Twenty-six runs at an altitude of 10,152 feet. That should keep you busy and out of breath.

Howelsen Hill Ski Area, Steamboat Springs, Colo. $16. A town-operated training area that has helped send more than 64 athletes to the Winter Olympics.

Cochran's Ski Area, Richmond, Vt. $20. A nonprofit that claims to introduce skiing to more than 800 local schoolchildren each year, and teaches parents how to teach their little ones.

Now on to California, where I've spent all of my skiing life, such as it is:

Badger Pass Ski Area, Yosemite National Park, CA. $42, according to the resorts web site, although OnTheSnow.com somehow reports $38 for a weekend adult all-day lift ticket. A low-key ski area with mostly beginner or intermediate runs.

Bear Valley, CA. $45. A terrain park opens Dec. 26, featuring rails, boxes and loader tires to ski or snowboard on.

Tahoe Donner, Truckee, CA. $36. A great place for kids to learn.

That's it for California, where other resorts range from $52 to $83 for weekend adult lift tickets. For my money, that's too much to pay for a trip up a mountain.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job hunt at www.talesofanunemployeddad.blogspot.com

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