Seniors at AltaOver the years, the free lift ticket has been a rite of passage for skiers and snowboarders who still hit the slopes in their golden years.

The popularity of skiing and riding for older Americans – plus the health and fitness benefits from outdoor activity – have kept more and more people on the mountain at an older and older age. Consequently, the age at which resorts set for elder-skiers to get a free ticket also is easing upward.

Ski resorts all over the nation offer discounts according to age, and most set a top limit after which “seniors” can ride the lifts without cost. National estimates indicate that more than half of the skiers and riders on the hill at any time are older than 50.

Here’s a sampling of some resorts in the West who offer free skiing and riding – if you are old enough:

At Arizona Snowbowl, it’s free skiing and riding for those 70 years or older (grandkids under seven don’t pay either).

In California, the free-ticket ages are all over the lot: It’s 70 at Mountain High, Snow Valley Mountain and Sugar Bowl, 76 at Squaw Valley, 80 at Mammoth and June Mountain … to a North American high of 90 at Alta Sierra.

Colorado’s resorts also vary in senior rates, with Monarch slipping in at 69, while you have to be a year older (70) at Purgatory.

Skiers and riders have to be at least 70 in New Mexico to get a freebie at such areas as Ski Apache and Red River, but have to be 80 at Taos Ski Valley.

Oregon’s Mount Hood Skibowl sets the free-ticket age at 71, while White Pass in neighboring Washington state sneaks it up another year to 72.

Utah’s venerable Alta Ski Resort with a loyal older crowd gives out free skiing (only) at age 80, as does Powder Mountain

Photos: Alta has long been popular with seniors skiers where lift tickets are free if you are 80 plus (Alta/Facebook); Bottom -- Members of the 70+ Ski Club enjoy the sport (70+ Ski Club/Facebook)

70+ Ski Club