• Rebecca Blackmon

Weekend Ski Trips on a Budget!

Updated: Apr 22, 2021

Hey everyone! New topic for me today - SKIING! Before this year I had never been skiing, or really even seen a lot of snow for that matter. I live in one of the southernmost states in the US, and it definitely doesn’t snow much here. So, this year I decided to give it a go for the first time (not once, but twice!!). I knew that Colorado, Utah, and similar places were popular skiing destinations in the US, but I also know they’re extremely costly. I figured that it didn’t make sense for me to spend a lot of money on this trip because I don’t even know how to ski! As a beginner, it made more sense to me to go somewhere extremely cheap, even if it wasn’t the best or coolest mountain I could go to, and just spend the day learning. I can (almost) guarantee that in any state that has snow, you can find some skiing. If you’re looking to save money, stay away from the popular ski destinations and go to some of the smaller ski states!

So without further ado, (drumroll please) enter MICHIGAN!

Keep reading and I’ll tell you all I know about skiing on a budget, and how to go on ski trips that won’t break the bank (especially if you’re a skiing newbie like I was!).

Where I Skied in Michigan

The first time we went, we went to a place called Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville, Michigan (a little less than 2 hours from Grand Rapids, the closest airport). Now, keep in mind that I had no previous experience to compare this to, but I thought it was great! We stayed for about 5 hours total. The first 2.5ish hours, I was on the bunny slopes with the 5 year olds - that was quite a humbling experience for those of you who have never had to do it! There were a ton of instructors teaching people how to ski. We were there with a great skier who taught us the basics, so we didn’t utilize the ski school service, but I do think it would have been a great option (especially with kids). Then we went and did some of the green runs (the easiest color). I did about three and then got hungry (go figure!) so we took a break and got lunch. The ski resorts, as well as all other restaurants in Michigan while we were there, were still closed to indoor dining, so we had to eat outside. It was freezing cold but they had chicken tendies and french fries so I was pretty happy. After we ate, we did one more run and then I called it a day! I must say, my legs were pretty dead so I was happy to stop.

Overall, for my first skiing experience, I loved Crystal Mountain! Keep in mind - this is a SMALL ski resort in comparison to what you see in Colorado. But as a newbie, I was super scared of running into someone, falling and getting in the way, etc., so I LOVED the fact that it was small.

A few weeks later, we went back to Michigan to get one more skiing adventure under our belts before it started getting warm in the south. The second time, we went to a place call Caberfae Peaks in Cadillac, MI (about an hour and a half from Grand Rapids). Since it was our second trip, we only spent about 10 minutes in the ski school area. Then we went straight to it! We skied for about three hours and took a break to eat dinner in the ski lodge. This time, we were allowed to eat inside and it really was a much needed break from the cold. We ate and then went back out for another hour or so and called it a night. It was snowing pretty hard and we felt like popsicles!

Overall, between the two, I thought the ski school area was much better at Crystal Mountain. If you have legitimately never skied before, that’s an important thing to look for. I thought the actual ski runs were much better at Caberfae. It’s a slightly larger resort so the runs were longer and more fun. It definitely was more crowded, so that’s the downside to bigger resorts.

Cost Breakdown


The first time we went to Michigan, I used points I had saved up from my airline credit card (if you don’t know about this, check out my previous blog post). So, $0 spent so far. The second time we went, because it was only three weeks after the first time we went, I didn’t have enough miles. So, we packed up and drove to Atlanta (the nearest 24-hour airport to us - about a 2 hour drive) because the flights are usually about half of the price they are when trying to fly out of Birmingham. We found those round trip airline tickets for $103.

Ski clothes:

Being from the south, I own ZERO ski clothes. Not even many warm clothes. But I can almost guarantee that someone you know has some ski clothes. All you have to do is ask nicely :) We borrowed all of our clothes from friends and family and collectively compiled enough that we didn’t have to buy any! We were super grateful as that allowed us to save a TON of money. Remember - if you’re traveling on a budget, sometimes all you have to do is ask!

Rentals and Lift Tickets:

Thankfully we were able to borrow clothes, but we still had to rent boots and skis. You also have to buy lift tickets for the allotted time you’ll be skiing. Most places allow you to do a multi-day pass, a full day pass, or a half day pass. Since I’d never skied before, we decided to do the half day because I knew I would get tired. At Crystal Mountain, we paid about $60 combined (for boots, skis, and lift tickets), and at Caberfae we paid about $75.


Both times we skied, we ate lunch or dinner in the ski lodge. I will say, lodge food is pretty expensive. Both times I had chicken tenders, french fries, and a drink and spent about $20. It would have been much more cost efficient to pack a lunch/snacks/etc, but we didn't think that far in advance.

Total cost:

The first time I skied, because I had flight points, I spent less than $100. The second time, because I had to buy the ticket, I spent about $200. Talk about skiing on a BUDGET!!

To wrap things up, I’ve included a table below of some of the most popular ski destination prices compared with some lesser known places. I did the table with two-day passes, because I know most people don't go on a ski trip just for one day of skiing. I hope this helps give you an idea of how much money you can save if you go to less "touristy" ski states and allows you all to go skiing next season without breaking the bank!


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