When Colorado’s ski season rolls around, it’s easy to feel excluded. Those price tags look scary. But set your sights elsewhere and you might find yourself joining the fun after all. We’re here with tips:

1. Go For The Gems

Arapahoe Basin. Loveland. Monarch. They are among ski country’s “hidden gems,” according to their trade association that every year offers access to them at a discount. If you’re wanting to bag multiple days, the Colorado Gems Card is a great way to go.

For $25, cardholders can explore 11 areas while saving big. At each, decide on two two-for-one adult lift tickets or two 30 percent off passes.

2. The Power of Four

Another good idea if you’re wanting to ski or ride more than a couple of days: Check out four-packs. Many resorts offer four-ticket bundles that essentially net you a day or two free.

Loveland has the best bet right now at $169 (available through Sunday). REI members get a Copper Mountain package for $199. You can split the days at A-Basin and Keystone with a $219 four-pack.

Breckenridge Ski Resort Photo Credit: justinknabb (Flickr).

Breckenridge Ski Resort, Photo Credit: justinknabb (Flickr).

3. Shop Local

It’s not only lift tickets that can be cost-prohibitive. If you’re without gear and on a budget, you’ll want to avoid the rental shops at base areas.

Fortunately, here in Colorado Springs, small businesses are ready to help. For $16.99, Colorado Kite and Ski (2820 W. Colorado Ave.) will hook you up with skis, bindings, boots, and poles for the day. Rentals also available at Mountain Chalet (226 N. Tejon St.) and the Ski Shop (1422 S. Tejon St.).

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4. Shop Select Stores

Customers who ask are known to score discounted tickets at King Soopers, Christy Sports, and Colorado Ski & Golf. At participating Exxon, Mobil and Shell stations, paying for 10 gallons of gas gets you buy-one-get-one deals.

5. Shop Online

Check liftopia.com early and often to see if you can snag a half-price pass somewhere. Also, add mountainsportsclub.com to your tabs. The bargains are better if you buy a membership, but you can freely browse discounted passes, rentals and lodging.

Breckenridge Ski Resort Photo Credit: Sebastian Peleato (Flickr).

Breckenridge Ski Resort Photo Credit: Sebastian Peleato (Flickr).

7. Got a fifth- or sixth-grader?

You’re in luck. No purchase required for the 5th Grade Passport, which gives the kiddo three free days at resorts not owned by Vail. The passport for sixth-graders is $105 (before Jan. 31) and is good for four days. To register, go to coloradoski.com/passport.

Also:

• Wolf Creek, regarded as Colorado’s snowiest ski area, will sell adult lift tickets for $50 on 14 appreciation days. Steamboat Springs’ storied Howelsen Hill offers free Sundays throughout the season.

• If you’re a newbie, wait to see what the deals are for January’s Learn to Ski Month.

• Be on the lookout in spring, too. Over the years, more resorts have been doling out cheaper passes with shorter lift lines.