When it comes to skiing and snowboarding, we all know the favorite spots. But when it comes to saving money we have to stop thinking "where" and start thinking "when." The best deals are always going to fall midweek — and you won't be fighting long lift lines with Boston-area gapers. What we've got here is a list of some of the best deals in the area, but it's always smart to reference skimaine.com for a breakdown of the whole ski-area scene around Maine.
SADDLEBACK | Hands down one of the best resorts in the state, this locals-friendly mountain boasts big snow and small lines with four more proposed lifts on the way. The Casablanca Glades offer East Coast skiing and riding at its best. College students (and military personnel) pay $35 for a lift ticket midweek and $39 on the weekend. For the more committed, season passes for college students are only $149. The first Sunday of every month is Maine Day ($29 for a lift ticket with a Maine ID) and every Wednesday is "Bring a friend day" where each regular-priced lift ticket comes with a $10 lift ticket for your guest. | Rangeley | SaddlebackMaine.com | 207.864.5671
SUGARLOAF | Forget whatever you've heard lately about anything regarding the Sugarloaf chairlifts. This is a world-class mountain. Period. There are few resorts this side of Colorado that can compare to this type of big-mountain terrain. Despite their semi-expensive regular lift tickets, there are savings to be had. Every Wednesday all Mainers (with ID) receive a $39 lift ticket. For those who can't quite afford a season pass, a frequent-skier card is a great alternative. It costs $94 and comes with a voucher for a free day on the slopes. The frequent-skier card saves $25 midweek and $15 on the weekend and is valid at Sugarloaf, Sunday River, and Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. | Carrabassett Valley | Sugarloaf.com | 800.THE.LOAF
SHAWNEE PEAK | Not only is Shawnee Peak the closest to Portland, but it offers deals seven days a week (check online for a complete list of savings). Among the best deals is Monday Night Madness, when night skiing (4-9 pm) only costs $13. Also on Monday (during the day) you can show up with a packed vehicle and pay by the car ($79). For you non-math majors, that's under $15.80 per person if you bring five people. Honestly, though, check online because there is a laundry list of savings every day of the week. One way or another, you're going to be skiing on the cheap at Shawnee. | Bridgton | ShawneePeak.com | 207.647.3203
PAYSON PARK | If riding park is more your style, there is a great box and rail park set up in Payson Park on the Ocean Avenue side. It's free and a great way to work on style points so you can go big in the park when you're showing off under the lift lines at the resorts—you know who you are. | Ocean Ave, Portland
For the not-so-adventurous, but more relaxed, there are a number of cross country skiing and snowshoeing locations throughout the state. Fortunately for us Portlanders, two of the best locations are in our backyard. All of these places are affordable and offer country comforts and the illusion of retreat without traveling far out of town. For more on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing throughout the state, check out the information at Maine Winter Sports Center (mainewsc.org).