Once there was a time when you reached age 60, you'd skied for free. Then you had to be 70. And now, at a half-dozen Western resorts, 80 is the new 60.
Anyone who's recently skied or ridden at a resort in the West can make note of the number of "white hairs" on the slopes. Stats say 6 percent of skiers and riders are 65 or older.
Across the West, nearly two dozen resorts hand out free passes once you pass a certain age. Most also offer deep discounts on season, day and specialty passes for those who meet the age requirement. So check their websites to see what they have.
But it's the free ones that attract the attention. SnoCountry conducted its own informal survey and leaned upon statistics from SeniorSkiing (you have to sign in but it's free) to come up with an unofficial list of where senior citizens can go without paying for a ticket.
The youngest age for free senior tickets settles at 70. Wyoming has the most mountains that give free passes to septuagenarians: town hills Hogadon and Snowy Range. Elsewhere, California's Mountain High, Arizona Snowbowl, and New Mexico's Sipapu and Red River are the most generous to 70-year-olds.
Move up a few years, and a more join in. At age 72, skiers and riders go free at Sandia Peak and Ski Santa Fe in New Mexico. At 75, it's Angel Fire in New Mexico, and Mount Hood Meadows in Oregon, and Powder Mountain in northern Utah.
Once you hit 80, the options widen. In Colorado, Cooper/Chicago Ridge, Sunlight, Telluride and Wolf Creek welcome octagenarians without charge. In bordering New Mexico, Taos Ski Valley puts it at 80 -- as do Idaho's Lookout Pass, Nevada's Diamond Peak, and Washington's Mt. Spokane. And Alta has traditionally been Utah's senior free-ticket bargain, with a cutoff at 80.
And, according to SeniorSkiing, the resort with the oldest threshold for free skiing or riding -- at age 92, is Dodge Ridge near Yosemite National Park in California.
The cheapest season pass other than free that SnoCountry could find was at Monarch, where those 69 or older pay just $20 for the season. An unusual perk came at Steamboat, where skiers and riders 50 or older get a free tour of the blue and black groomers on any day.