Epic Pass look out, there’s a new player in town.  The Ikon Pass has arrived.

The biggest revenue generator to Colorado’s economy is tourism.  And a huge part of that revenue is generated in the wintertime through Colorado’s ski industry, with an estimated 5 billion dollars economic impact coming via skiing.  While many of those dollars come from out-of-town visitors, a significant chunk comes from local residents.

In fact, it’s hard to find anyone who lives in our local community who doesn’t ski or snowboard.  What better way to get through a cold and snowy winter than to recreate by sliding down a mountain?  Since the price to buy a one-day lift ticket is upwards of $150, most locals buy a ski pass.  While a ski pass to the local mountain can be purchased early season for less than $400, multi-resort passes are far more popular for the value they provide and the variety they offer.

In recent years, Vail Resorts has dominated the battle of the ski passes by offering its Epic Pass.  The Epic Locals pass provides skiing at Breckenridge, Arapaho Basin, Keystone, Vail and Beaver Creek.  The Epic Pass provides skiing at those and 50+ resorts around North America.

In Colorado, other resorts have tried to compete by teaming together for the Rocky Mountain Super Pass, which gave access to Winter Park, Copper Mountain, Eldora and Steamboat.

During the last year, a new company formed called Alterra Mountain Company.  Alterra bought out Intrawest, owners of Winter Park and Steamboat, and formed a holding company with the owners of Aspen ski resorts.

Alterra is now selling the Ikon Pass in two forms.  For $899, you can have limited access to 26 ski resorts, including well-known resorts like Jackson Hole, Alta, Snowbird, Mammoth Mountain and Squaw Valley as well as the Colorado Resorts including Aspen’s resorts.

Most Coloradans however, will probably be faced with purchasing the locals version of the Epic Pass or Ikon Pass, at a price of either $639 or $599.  Both passes went on sale this month, and since many locals buy their passes as the ski season comes to an end, it won’t be long to see who is winning this mammoth battle.

One person who won’t be buying either pass?  Myself.  One of the perks of being a ski resort employee is the free pass I receive, and the pass I get for my husband.  At a savings of $1200, I guess I’ll be teaching skiing for a long time to come.