Friday December 21, 2012

If you can tear yourself away from the holiday hustle, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are often among the best ski days of any season.

Most people are "too busy" to hit the slopes, so you’ll rarely see a liftline or a crowded trail.

One word of advice: Especially at this time of year, Mother Nature always has the final say, so call or check the area’s website for a final update before you get in the car.

Most ski areas are open for regular hours on Christmas Eve Day, but areas that normally stay open into the evening often shut down early on Christmas Eve.

Check before you go.

Also, this year with Christmas Eve on a Monday, some areas may charge weekend/holiday ticket prices; others, trying to attract skiers and riders, will wait until the day after Christmas to boost their prices.

On Christmas Day, operating hours will sometimes vary. So will prices -- the price given is full day adult; kids and seniors are usually cheaper.

While some of the larger areas will charge full holiday rates, others will charge less if they don’t have all their terrain open.

The best way to save: look for online deals and pre-buy your tickets.

MASSACHUSETTS

Ski Butternut ( 413-528-2000; www.skibutternut.com) in Great Barrington 10:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.($55).

Catamount (413-528-1262; www.catamountski.com ) in South Egremont 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.($61).

Jiminy Peak (1-800-882-8859; www.jiminypeak.com) in Hancock 9:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.($74).

VERMONT

Bromley Mountain (800-865-4786; www.bromley.com) in Peru 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ($67)

Killington (800-621-6867; www.killington.com) in Killington. Christmas Day 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. ($88)

Magic Mountain (802-824-5645; www.magicmtn.com) in Londonderry 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ($46.99 online pre-purchase)

Mount Snow (1-800 245-7669, www.mountsnow.com) in Dover 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.($67).

Stowe Mountain Resort (1-800-253-4754; www.stowe.com ) in Stowe, 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.($92).

Stratton Mountain Resort (1-800-787-2886; www.stratton .com), in Stratton 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. (holiday pricing does not start until 12-26,) $76 adult ticket at the window, $69 on line in advance, $46 with the X2 card.

Discount packages, including Kids Ski and Stay Free, right through a Dec. 26 departure.

Sugarbush (1-800-537-8427; www.sugarbush.com) in Warren, Vermont. Christmas Day, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., ($89)

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HERE’S THE DEAL:

Bolton Valley (1-877-9BOLTON, www.boltonvalley .com) in Bolton, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day $25 for all ages.

Cranmore Mountain Resort (603-356-8526; www.cranmore.com) in North Conway, N.H. Christmas Day $45 lift tickets with e-coupon (must be downloaded a day in advance.)

Magic Mountain (802-824-5645; www.magicmtn.com) in Londonderry, Vt. White-Out Holiday Pass and ski all holiday periods for only $249: Holiday Periods: Dec. 26-Jan. 1, Jan. 19-21 and Feb.y 16-24.

Tim Jones writes about outdoor sports and travel. He can be reached at timjones@easternslopes.com