The Cheapest Ways to Get to the Slopes From All of the Major Ski Airports
You can save hundreds of dollar with public transportation and little ingenuity.
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After buying lift tickets and figuring out where to hang your helmet at the end of the ski day, most travelers don’t want to put much effort—or dough—into getting from the airport to the resort. The hard part is over, right? Unfortunately, we often come to find that getting to the slopes is not the afterthought we would like it to be. On the contrary, it can actually be a big expense. (For example, an Epic Mountain Express shuttle for two adults from Denver International Airport to Breckenridge in early February will set you back $238 each way.)
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That said, if you don’t want to shell out hundreds on a private shuttle or a rental car—honestly, you don’t need one at the majority of ski areas—there are inexpensive ways to get to the resorts from most of the major ski airports. Keep in mind that these won’t necessarily be the quickest, but if you’re in it to save a few bucks and you’re not in a rush, you can often shave pennies using shuttles or public transportation—and be kinder to the environment at the same time.
The Most Inexpensive Ways to Get to the Slopes
From —> Denver International Airport
- Resorts: Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, Loveland Ski Area, and Steamboat, Colo.
- Cost: $25-$40 roundtrip
- Runs: Weekends and holidays from mid-Dec. through May 7
The Snowstang bus service is designed to ease I-70 traffic and offer an economical option for Front Range skiers. There are three stops before it heads up I-70 to the five resorts it services, but the most convenient for air travelers coming from DIA is at Denver’s Union Station, which they can get to via RTD light rail on the A Line from the airport.
From —> Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport
- Resort: Big Sky, Mont.
- Cost: $5
- Runs: Nov. 21-April 16
The Skyline bus service runs from several spots in Bozeman up to Big Sky, but you can’t catch it from the airport. The closest bus stop to the airport is at the Bozeman Walmart, so plan to Uber or take a taxi there, then catch the bus. The Skyline runs seven days/week in the winter, with routes scheduled from early morning through late afternoon, then back down to Bozeman all day long and into the night. Once you’re in Big Sky, the Skyline’s local routes around town are free.
From —> Salt Lake City International Airport
UTA TRAX and Buses
- Resorts: Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton, Utah
- Cost: $2.50-$5, although some routes are free with a season pass or an Ikon Pass
- Runs: Dec. 11-April 15
A major bus driver shortage has wreaked havoc on the public transportation system in Salt Lake City, but there are still buses that go to all of the major ski resorts in the SLC area. Some are on reduced routes, so be sure to check schedules thoroughly before making plans. To get to Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton from the airport, ski travelers can take the UTA Trax Green Line to Courthouse Station, then transfer to the Red Line to Historic Sandy Station, where they can board the Route 994 bus. This site has the most up-to-date info, including details on the added bus service into Big and Little Cottonwood canyons that just started earlier this month.
From —> Aspen-Pitkin Regional Airport
- Resorts: Aspen Snowmass
- Cost: free
- Runs: year-round
The public bus service provided by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority from the airport throughout the Aspen Valley makes it cheap and easy to get to the slopes and around town. There’s a bus station at the airport; take the VelociRFTA right into downtown Aspen. It runs up to every 12 minutes during peak times. From Aspen you can ride the buses to Snowmass, Buttermilk, and Aspen Highlands, and even neighboring towns such as Carbondale and Basalt.
From —> Friedman Memorial Airport
Mountain Rides Airport Connection
- Resort: Sun Valley, Idaho
- Cost: free
- Run: Weekdays only
Ski travelers flying into Hailey’s little Friedman Memorial can catch the free Airport Connection right from the airport, which will drop them both in Ketchum as well as a couple stops in Sun Valley. There are nine departures daily, Monday-Friday. Mountain Rides also runs several in-town routes between Ketchum, Sun Valley, Dollar Mountain, and other nearby communities.
From —> Eagle-Vail Regional Airport
Eco-Transit Valley Route
- Resorts: Vail and Beaver Creek, Colo.
- Cost: $4 per ride
- Runs: Nov. 27-April 15
Eco-Transit’s Valley Route takes skiers from Eagle airport to two stops in Avon/Beaver Creek and three in Vail; from there they can hop on the resorts’ free town buses to get them the rest of the way to the slopes or their lodging. The ride from the airport to Avon takes about 50 minutes, with another 20 or so minutes to Vail. Once you’re at the resort, Eco-Transit’s winter-only Vail-Beaver Creek Express (also $4/ride) runs between the two ski areas starting Dec. 2.
From —> Bishop Regional Airport
- Resort: Mammoth Mountain, Calif.
- Cost: $7
- Runs: weekdays except for major holidays
The convenient and affordable Mammoth Express, a service of the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority, takes skiers the 50 miles between Bishop Airport and the town of Mammoth Lakes. From there, you can catch the Purple Line bus, the free shuttle that runs between town and the mountain.
From —> Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport
Gunnison Valley RTA Bus
- Resort: Crested Butte, Colo.
- Cost: free
- Runs: Nov. 22-April 2
There’s a free bus that runs between Gunnison and Crested Butte daily all winter, but it doesn’t serve the airport and isn’t meant to be used as an airport shuttle. That said, if you’re traveling light (skis and boot bag, carry-on luggage only), you can catch the bus at the stop at 11th and Virginia, about a half-mile from the airport. From there, it’s about an hour to the CB’s mountain village. Once at the resort, the free town shuttles run between the slopes and downtown regularly.
From —> Reno-Tahoe International Airport
North Lake Tahoe Express and South Tahoe Airporter
- Resorts: All South and North Lake Tahoe ski areas, Calif.
- Cost: Varies depending on destination, airport to Heavenly is about $30/each way
- Runs: year-round
Skiers can catch shuttles from Reno-Tahoe airport to either the South Shore or the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. While it’s not public transportation, the cost is pretty reasonable compared to other destinations, and there are multiple shuttles daily, so finding one that lines up with your arrival and departure times is doable.
For North Shore resorts like Palisades Tahoe, Northstar, and the town of Truckee, book with North Lake Tahoe Express; for South Lake Tahoe resorts like Heavenly or Sierra, use the South Tahoe Airporter. Once you’re at the resorts, you can take the TART Connect free shuttles between the North Shore, the West Shore, and Incline Village. On the South Shore, the Lake Link shuttles skiers between resorts and the city centers for free.
From —> Montrose Regional Airport
- Resort: Telluride, Colo.
- Cost: $11
- Runs: Weekdays only, no weekends or holidays
The Outrider is an offshoot of the Denver-based Bustang and Snowstang service, with the Outrider focusing on connecting rural Colorado towns and cities. The Outrider between Grand Junction and Telluride has several stops in Montrose—again, not at the airport, but close—where ski travelers can hop on for the rest of the ride into the picturesque ski town. The closest stop to the airport is at the Montrose Travel Center, less than a mile away. Then it’s about an hour and half to the drop point in Telluride, the Lawson Hill Park and Ride. You can buy tickets on the bus with exact change or use the Outrider app.
From —> Jackson Hole Airport
JAC Taxi Pool
- Resorts: Jackson Hole and Snow King, Wyo.
- Cost: $45
- Runs: Nov. 16-April 9
There’s no public transportation from the airport into town, unfortunately, but once you get to town, the public START Buses will get wherever you need to go, including the ski resorts. From the airport, use the taxi pool to get to downtown Jackson, then catch the Teton Village Express (or the Teton Village Local, which stops at Snow King) for only $1-$3 per person. That saves you $30 in added taxi-pool fares had you taken it all the way to Teton Village.