How to Ski on a College Budget

Posted: February 05, 2024 | Author: Clare-Estelle Perkins and Abbie Cochrane | Read Time: 5 minutes

SUU banners hanging from a light pole

Because southern Utah is famous for its warm weather and desert climate, many people are surprised to learn that Cedar City gets an average snowfall of 52 inches annually, making Cedar City a great place to ski or snowboard. However, many Southern Utah University students who look forward to these activities during the winter often don’t go as much as they’d like to due to how expensive skiing/ snowboarding can be. So, here are some ways to hit the slopes while keeping your college finances intact.


Gear is perhaps the most important part of winter sports, as you can’t do too much without it. However, nice gear is expensive and can be difficult for most students to come by. Save money by either buying used gear or renting gear.

The best and easiest place for students to rent equipment is of course the SUU Outdoors Basecamp. There, they have several packages for everything from snowboarding and skiing to snow tubing and snowshoeing. This even includes boots, helmets, and goggles for rent at cheap prices. SUU Outdoors only rents gear for snowboarding and cross-country skiing. For downhill skiing, the cheapest place to rent in Cedar City is at Cedar Sports. There are also ski swaps in St. George where you can get ski/snowboarding gear for up to 80% off!

If you’re renting from the resort, don’t stand in line when you get there–it’s a lot faster to rent it before you head up the mountain. Just be sure to keep the equipment in good condition so that people can use it for years to come.

The beautiful thing about living in a ski town is that finding used gear is a lot less difficult than one would think. If you’re looking to purchase equipment, try to do so in the offseason. Prices will be significantly reduced for awesome gear, and you’ll have first pick before stocks run out.

Go With a Group

A great option for students who have never been skiing is Adventure Trips with SUU Outdoors. There are all sorts of trips like hiking, backpacking, climbing and more. but they also offer winter weather adventures like cross-country skiing trips and snowshoeing.

Here at SUU, there is also a Ski/Snowboard Club open to beginners and dedicated to helping students hit the slopes. Alternatively, many students at SUU love winter sports, so go with a friend! It is always a good idea to have someone who can help you get the basics to get the most out of your adventure.

Paying for a Pass

If you plan to ski more than a few times this season, a pass is most likely the option for you. Besides–paying for multiple individual day passes is a lot more expensive than committing to a season pass.

Luckily, many resorts offer college passes, or discounted passes if you have served in the military. You can also purchase a specialty pass that allows access to multiple resorts in a given area. Learn more about specialty ski passes in Utah here. Remember, the best time to purchase a ski pass is in the offseason when tickets are much cheaper. While there is a gamble in terms of whether or not your resort will get decent snow that year, some specialty passes like Ikon or Epic offer opportunities to hit other hills nearby.

If your budget just won’t allow you to purchase a ski pass this year, ski with someone who has one. Most passes offer discounted tickets for any friends of the pass holder, so be sure to become buddies with someone who has a pass.

You could also purchase a midweek pass and go skiing when you don’t have to fight all the weekend ski traffic up the mountain. Be sure to check the website of your designated ski resort to look for special deals and discounts.

Also, if you just want to hit the mountain for one day, consider going night skiing. The night lift passes are typically much cheaper!


The nearest resort to SUU Campus is Brian Head where they offer night skiing and half-day tickets at a discounted rate.

Save yourself a couple more bucks by not spending money on lunch at the resort. Pack yourself a lunch and take it up with you. Yes, it’s time-consuming to head back down to the car or a rented locker for your meal, but it’s not as cash-consuming. If you don’t feel like heading down to the parking lot, try packing smaller snacks that can fit in your pockets or a small backpack. And again, renting a locker is never a bad idea.


The Brian Head Express Shuttle is an independent shuttle service that offers daily round-trip shuttles from Cedar City to Brian Head Resort. It runs for the 23/24 season from November 10 through April 14.

You can also carpool with your friends and split the gas bill as another budget-friendly option.

Work and Ski

If you run out of options or just forget to buy a pass, you could always apply to work at your favorite resort. Jobs on the mountain usually include a free, built-in ski pass. It may be work, but for any devoted ski bum, it’s an ideal choice. Working at Brian Head gets all employees a free season pass, free season rentals, 50% off food, and 30% off the shop, so it is the best deal out there!

It goes without saying that, while attending the University of the Parks, students should get the most out of the outdoors. Financial constraints shouldn't stand in the way of all the winter fun. SUU Outdoors makes every adventure easier for students. Make the most out of the slopes!


Tags: Cedar City Student Outdoors CurStu Student Life SUU Outdoors

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