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Ski Resort Life

11 Ski Destinations That Don’t Require a Rental Car

No car? No problem at these ski areas, where well-connected public transportation makes it easy to ditch the rental.

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As you’re planning this winter’s ski vacations and watching the price tag grow higher and higher, it’s only natural to wonder how you can save a few bucks. Or maybe you just don’t want to deal with the hassle of renting a car and navigating unfamiliar mountain roads, or unpredictable gas prices. All reasons to ditch the wheels and opt for a shuttle, rideshare, or public transportation. Not only can it save you money, but also stress.

Also Read: The Best Resorts in the West for a Weekend Getaway

Some resorts are more easily navigable without a car than others, however. From ease of getting there to getting around once you’ve checked into your lodging, it’s critical to know things such as location of shuttle stops, timing of resort transportation, how walkable a place is, and what the overall hassle factor will be when you don’t have your own car.

The good news is, some resorts have gone to great lengths to make it easy—even more enjoyable—to travel without a car. Here’s a rundown of carless-friendly resorts in North America.

11 Ski Resorts Where You Don’t Need to Rent a Car This Winter

Vail and Beaver Creek, Colo.

Epic Mountain Express shuttle
(: Courtesy of Vail Resorts)

Both Vail’s and Beaver Creek’s location just off I-70 bodes well for those looking to take a ski vacation without a car. During the ski season, shuttles depart every hour from Denver International Airport (DIA); there are also shuttles from the closer but smaller Eagle County Regional Airport. The journey to the valley is around two hours from DIA using services like Epic Mountain Express (rates start at $69). If you’re flying into Eagle, you can use the same service to get to the resort in around 30 minutes (rates start at $49). Plus, if you have an Epic Pass, you get a 20-percent discount.

Once you’re there, both Vail and Beaver Creek have free buses and shuttles around their respective towns and villages. Vail’s free bus system is particularly extensive, with stops at the local grocery store and between three different base villages. Plus, you can hop between the two resorts on the Vail-Beaver Creek Express for $4.

Alta and Snowbird, Utah

It’s easy to get to any of the Salt Lake City-area resorts thanks to the efficient Salt Lake International Airport’s proximity to the mountain. Alta and Snowbird are only 32 miles from the airport, and there are several shuttle services that run regularly from the airport for a reasonable rate. Alta Shuttle charges $90 roundtrip per person to Alta or Snowbird, and runs every 20 to 30 minutes from the airport. 

Even if you decide to stay in the SLC-area, you still don’t need a car. The Utah Transportation Authority’s ski bus picks up from multiple spots around the city every day of the ski season. It’s cheap (only $4.50 a ticket last season and free for Ikon pass holders) and runs every 15 minutes during peak hours. What’s more, there’s no need for a car once you’re at the resorts, either. Both are small enough to be walkable to slopes and amenities.

Stowe Mountain Resort, Vt.

None (Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts)

Those looking to ski car-free on the East Coast will want to consider Stowe. It’s just around 45 minutes from Burlington International Airport. Your best bet is to get a taxi (Uber and Lyft are also available) with costs running between $70 and $95 each way. Another option is to fly into New York City and take the Ethan Allen Express train to Burlington. Fares start at $75 and the scenic route takes just over seven hours, so think of it as part of the vacation experience.

Once you arrive in Stowe, you can hop aboard the free Mountain Road Shuttle, which loops every 15 minutes and runs skiers between town and the ski area. Easy peasy. Town itself is totally walkable, with plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants along, or just off, Main Street.

Banff, Alb.

Staying in the charming ski town of Banff and skiing Lake Louise, Banff Sunshine, and Mt. Norquay without a car is easy. There’s a free ski shuttle that goes between town and the ski resorts at regular intervals all winter long plus reasonably priced transportation for the 90-minute trip from Calgary International Airport. The Brewster Express makes nine trips a day between the two and costs $126 CAD roundtrip. The town of Banff is super walkable, and the free ski shuttle stops at most of the hotels in town. 

Park City Resort, Utah

(Photo: Keri Bascetta)

Park City is unique because the ski haven is noticeably easy to get to. From Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) it’s an easy 35-minute drive to get to the ski town. Shuttle services like Canyon Transportation make the journey easy and keep costs low ($49 per person, each way). Or you can always hop in an Uber.

Once you’re in Park City, getting around town and between the two base areas is easy. Plus, the city has an extensive network of free buses to take you between the resort, downtown, and amenity-rich Kimball Junction just north of town. There’s even a trolley that runs up and down Historic Main Street.

Heavenly Resort, Calif.

It’s less than $33 to take the South Tahoe Airporter shuttle from Reno-Tahoe International Airport to South Lake Tahoe, home of Heavenly Ski Resort. The shuttle has stops at a handful of casinos and hotels that are a short walk to the gondola in Heavenly Village. Once you’re in the gondola, you’ll be up the mountain in 12 extremely scenic minutes.  

Free shuttles transport skiers between the mountain’s base areas with stops at most of the major hotels.

Winter Park Resort, Colo.

"Winter Park Express Returns"
Photo: Carl Frey/Winter Park Resort

It’s $10.50 and 37 minutes to get from Denver International Airport to Union Station in downtown Denver on the city’s light rail. And from Union Station, you can Amtrak’s Winter Park Express right to Winter Park Resort. The journey takes around two hours and fares start at $29 one-way. Just keep in mind the train only runs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the ski season, so plan accordingly.

Once you’re in Winter Park, there’s the Lift, a free bus that runs from the resort to town, 10 minutes away. It also goes to nearby Fraser, home to the nearest grocery store.