Monarch Ski Resort Colorado
Monarch ski resort is uncrowded relative to the mainstream Colorado ski resorts, so powderhounds can have a happy time flying around like a butterfly whilst savouring the fresh Colorado powder! Hardcore skiers generally also appreciate the laidback attitude at Monarch ski resort – there’s nothing plastic or fake at Monarch. Even the snow isn’t artificial!
Families looking for a really affordable ski vacation are also drawn to Monarch Mountain. Lift tickets, food, ski rentals, lessons, and accommodations are inexpensive, and the small nature of the resort makes it easy to keep track of the family. The friendly vibe is also attractive for families.
Monarch Ski and Snowboard Terrain
Monarch is reasonably small with 800 acres (324 hectares) of skiable terrain and only 1,162 feet of vertical (354 metres). The main part of the Monarch skiing
area is serviced by 5 old clunker lifts (1 quad, 2 double chairs), whilst 130 acres is hike-to expert terrain.
Beginner and intermediate skiers and boarders have a selection of groomed trails to choose from, although intermediates may quickly experience some déjà vu. Advanced riders have a few cut trails for bump skiing, but the real fun can be found amongst the trees.
Experts can go for a short hike to Mirkwood Basin for some steep bowls, chutes, sweet trees and a sprinkling of cliff bands for vaulting off.
Monarch Mountain has a couple of terrain parks, although one of them wouldn’t form a blip on a shredder’s radar.
Where is Monarch Mountain?
Monarch is away from the main I70 ski resort thoroughfare, which makes it a little harder to get to, but it keeps the crowds away.
Monarch is located on Highway 50 on the continental divide, 20 miles west of the town of Salida Colorado
. Monarch is 155 miles southwest of Denver (a 3 hour drive) and 120 miles west of Colorado Springs (2 hour drive). The closest major airport is Gunnison (one hour west of Monarch) which receives flights from Texas.
There is no on-mountain lodging at Monarch ski resort. Most people stay in Salida hotels
which are very inexpensive. Salida is a small quiet town with friendly people and several restaurants and bars.
Alternatively, the Monarch Mountain lodge is located 3 miles (5km) east of Monarch ski resort in a little settlement called Monarch (formerly known as Garfield).
Monarch Ski Resort Facilities
Monarch has one base area with a large day lodge and a big tent that house all the facilities and services. These include a cafeteria, pub, retail shop, brown baggers area, snowboard and ski rentals, ski school, and child care for kids aged 3 to 6.
Plans are afoot for an extension of the day lodge and to further improve the Monarch ski resort facilities
Monarch Cat Skiing
Adjacent to the resort is the Monarch snowcat skiing. The terrain size is one of the smallest cat skiing tenures in North America but the terrain is mean and nasty! Unlike some Colorado cat skiing
operations that offer reasonably mellow slopes (e.g. Aspen Powder Tours), Monarch has expert-only slopes with steep trees, bowls and cliffs. A normal snowcat tour covers about 10 to 12 runs per day with an average of about 900 vertical feet per run.
Monarch cat skiing is amazing when the snow’s going off. Unfortunately if the snow’s somewhat deficient the cat skiing will also be lacking because the steep slopes need a lot of base. On the plus side, Monarch cat skiing is very inexpensive relative to other USA cat skiing
Why Snowboard or Ski Monarch?
Monarch is renowned for being uncrowded so it’s popular with powder hounds. Monarch and the nearby towns are very affordable, making it appealing for ski bums and families on a shoestring budget.
Monarch Mountain is a cute little ski resort that’s somewhat off the beaten track, but perhaps the Monarch butterfly is really just a glorified moth?!
Tours that include Monarch Mountain