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Survey: Cheapest and priciest ski destinations in U.S. and Canada

For skiers and snowboarders, Colorado can be a land of extremes -- and not just in terrain. When it comes to the cost of a day on the slopes, Durango is the best place for bargain-hunters and Vail certainly will appeal to high rollers.

That's the word from a TripAdvisor's Ski Index 2012-13 of 25 destinations in the U.S. and Canada. The online travel company created it by tallying the daily cost of a lift ticket, hotel, gear rental, a burger-and-fries meal and even a mug of beer.

Durango prices out at the cheapest with a cost of $210, roughly half the cost of the average of all destinations on the index. Bend, Ore., comes in second at $215 and Taos, N.M., snags third place at $239. The cheapest spot in the Northeast is Conway, N.H., at $247, and Banff, Alberta, turns out to be Canada's big bargain at $343. Other bargain destinations are Whitefish, Mont.; Kingfield, Maine; Sun Valley, Idaho; and Jackson Hole, Wyo.

The three most expensive destinations are Vail at $801 and Aspen at $717 in Colorado, and Park City, Utah, at $677. Mammoth Lakes, the only California ski town included in the survey, came in 10th most expensive with a daily cost of skiing or snowboarding at $423.

That's not to say you can't find good deals at the top-priced destinations, but it's always nice to have an idea of where to start looking for the snow bargains.