With higher prices for everything this year, it may be harder to afford that all-day family ski trip in Montana. Yet with the season quickly entering its final weeks, we want to make sure you can find the best options for a fun day on the slopes for all ages. 

And you'll quickly find one truth if you're looking for bargains and that is that bigger is not necessarily better. 

In fact, not only are the most affordable lift tickets found at the smaller resorts, but often that's where kids and beginners can find the best value for the family's downhill dollar. 

Here are some examples:

Discovery Ski Area near Philipsburg is often considered the "family-friendly mountain" and that hasn't changed in 2023. Children through 5 years old are still free with the purchase of an adult ticket and they can enjoy one of the best Bunny Hills in the region. Ages 6-12 can ski for $30 on weekdays and $32 on weekends. However, there aren't separate deals for teens from 13 up, who have to purchase the same ticket as adults, for $56 on weekdays and $60 on weekends. 

Discovery has great terrain for all ages- Dennis Bragg photo
Discovery has great terrain for all ages- Dennis Bragg photo

Whitefish Mountain Resort changed a lot over the past decade, losing a lot of the simple "ski in your jeans" culture "Big Mountain" was known for back in the day. Still, the program offerings are impressive. The Toyota First Time lesson package is $99 for adults, and ages 7-12. But that includes 2 days of beginner lift tickets, rentals, and 2 half-day lessons. The "Ski/Ride & Play" packages are great for the little ones, who participate in activities at the Kids Center. 

Adult tickets are running $94 this year from 19 up, with a teen ticket from 13 through 18 priced at $80. Juniors can ski for $47 between from ages 7 through 12, with kiddos under 6 free. And if the grandparents want to go, there's a special Super Saver package from 70+. 

Montana FamilySki5
Dennis Bragg photo

Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area continues to aggressively market its mid-week packages with special prices, many of which are great for family groups. There are small group lessons for ages 7-12 which include a 2-hour course for $58 with an even better 3-day "learn to ski or ride" course if you can handle the back-and-forth overnight stays down to St. Regis or Kellogg. "Bring a Friend Thursday" could be attractive, with two tickets for $75. Adult tickets for skiers and riders 18 and up are competitively priced at $55 mid-week and $66 on the weekend. 

There's a sweet spot for younger skiers, with a $45 mid-week ticket that covers youth from 7 all the way up through 17, with $5 or free options for the little ones. And Lookout remains a great hill for older skiers, with the varied terrain, and if they're over 80 they ski free. 

 Go big without big bucks at the smaller resorts

This continues to be where Montana skiing continues to offer something seen in very few areas of the Rocky Mountains. The medium-sized resorts like Showdown, and Lost Trail Powder Mountain, or the tiny but quaint areas like Teton, and Maverick Mountain still offer prices that help the entire family afford some fun, and most importantly, get the experience to keep the sport thriving. 

Dennis Bragg photo
Dennis Bragg photo

Lost Trail has one of the widest age ranges on its adult tickets. Anyone from 13 through 59 pays a full adult ticket at $58. Ages 6-12 are $48. But this is by far the best mountain to take the grandparents with you. Anyone in their 60s pays $50, but 70+ skiers are only $29.

Montana Snowbowl has challenging terrain but the proximity to Missoula, whether for home or food and lodging for a weekend getaway keeps popularity strong. Adult tickets are a bit higher at $68, but there are good options for various ages. Kids can get a 45-minute lesson for $25, with equipment for $32. Ages 6-12 skis for $30, while those 5 and under are free.

Blacktail Mountain Ski Area adult tickets are priced at $55 a day this year. But they have a "First Time Skier Skill Builder" package from $70 which includes a full-day ticket and options for skiing and 'boarding. However, because the adult ticket price starts at age 25, Blacktail offers one of the best options for young adults, who only have to shell out $45 to shred if they're between 18 through 24 years old. 

Teens get an even better deal from 13-17, with single-day tickets at only $30. Kids 8 through 12 are just $20, and ages 7 and under are free, which includes lift access. Plus, when the weather clears, Blacktail still offers one of the most unique views of any Montana ski area, with the panorama stretching from Flathead Lake to Glacier. 

READ MORE: New fast lift serving thousands at Whitefish Mountain

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