With the craziness of back-to-school, the start of new sports and extracurricular activities, and the fast-approaching holiday season, it's very easy to throw vacations out the window until winter break and the New Year. However, for snow bunnies and ski bum wannabes who look forward to a new ski season, now is the best time to plan a ski getaway. Every powder lover will hit the slopes January through March, peak ski season, but early-season snow in November and December means steep discounts and packages to entice busy families to hit the slopes.
Here are 10 great ski bargains across the United States. Don't underestimate the power of booking early. Often, resorts offer discounted rates or free days for booking early, no matter when you take your vacation. At most lodges, rates in the early season are the best -- a real-life example of the early bird getting that worm. If you are planning a ski trip, check out family ski vacation deals for specific up-to-date ski steals.
Find more hotels and resorts with our Family Ski Vacation page.
#1: Be an MVP in Colorado
Four Colorado mountain peaks -- all within a 10-mile radius -- provide an array of skiing, including the family-friendly slopes of Snowmass and black-diamond runs of Aspen. Each base village has its own flair as well. Aspen provides more of a ski-town experience with ample shops and more advanced ski opportunities; Snowmass provides a slope-side chalet environment with ski classes for kids of all ages. (You will melt when your 3-year-old learns the beginning basics at the "Cubs on Skis" club.)
Early winter is a great time to hit the slopes with the Stonebridge Inn's MVP Mini-Vacation Package. The early-bird package features a "Buy 2, Get 3" special, allowing guests to stay for two nights and get a third free in late November or early December, with rates starting as low as $89 per night. Not only do guests receive a third free night of lodging at the moderate hotel with lodge-inspired decor, but also a third lift ticket and equipment rental through partnering company Four Mountain Sports. This package is perfect for families interested in a long-weekend ski trip. Families must book the offer before Nov. 12 and stay must be between Nov. 25 and Dec. 16.
#2: Ski Free in Steamboat
Steamboat Springs, Colo., presents a majestic mountain with 3,000 acres and 165 trails topped with Champagne powder. Steamboat Ski Town offers snowy activities, including ski school for all ages and ice skating after a day on the slopes. And a great perk of Steamboat? Kids ski free the entire season! In late November and early December Steamboat Grand Resort features a Ski Free deal that includes free lift tickets for each full day you stay, with a minimum stay of three nights (that means two free lift tickets) -- and for every adult lift ticket purchased, kids get a free ticket.
The deal also includes a 20 percent discount on ski and snowboard rentals, and kids get free ski rentals. Rates start as low as $100 per night.
#3: America's Biggest Skiing in Big Sky, Montana