Epic or Ikon Pass: Getting the best bang for your buck

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DENVER -- Monday might be the unofficial end of summer, but here in Colorado that means hitting the slopes is just around the corner.

A-Basin expects to open Oct. 20, just 46 days away. So here's the question: are you looking for an Epic ski season? Are you more of an Ikon? With all the world class ski resorts in our backyard, how do you get the best bang for your buck?

The Ikon Pass is the new kid on the block and costs $999. The pass gets you access to 35 resorts on three continents. In Colorado, that includes unlimited access at four resorts: Steamboat, Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Eldora. Kids, teens, college students and members of the military all get a discount. The pass also gets you 10 discounted lift tickets for friends and family.

Christie's Sports in Littleton is offering $50 off the pass if you buy from them by Tuesday.

The big-name competitor is Vail's Epic Pass. For $899 you can ski at 65 resorts on four continents, so the pass is $100 cheaper with twice as many resorts. But it really comes down to preference: where do you want to ski? The Epic Pass includes unlimited access to six Colorado resorts: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, A-Basin and Crested Butte. Kids up to 12 get half off of the full price. The pass also comes with six discounted lift tickets and deals on lodging. Beware though, prices do go up after Labor Day, but just how much is TBD.

Now here's an alternative for the newbie skiers just looking to dabble in Colorado's favorite winter past-time without paying a fortune. The Gems card gives you a choice of either two 2-for-1 lift tickets or two 30-percent-off lift tickets at 11 Colorado resorts including A-Basin, Loveland and Eldora.

For parents with 5th and 6th graders, another thing to consider: 5th graders get three free days of skiing at 22 resorts and 6th graders get four days on the slopes for just over $100.

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