Excellent terrain, picturesque sceneries, abundant snowfall and high elevation combine to make Monarch Mountain. This authentic Colorado ski resort is located somewhere in the swatch range, up along the continental divide, near the beautiful towns of Salida, Gunnison and Buena Vista in the heart of Isabel National Forest. If you wish to avoid the crowded terrains of 1-70 mega resorts the Monarch Mountain will be the perfect getaway for you. Not too long lift lines combined with great natural terrain are among the many things you experience as you go some 150 miles to the Southwest of Denver.
To be precise, the Monarch Ski and Snowboard area is situated on U.S. Highway 50 and 32 km west of Salida with 54 trails and an extreme terrain area by the name of Mirkwood. Three miles to the east of the ski area is located, in the town of Garfield, the Monarch Mountain Lodge. Skywalker, its most famous run is right at the top of the mountain, following the Ridgeline. Monarch Mountain Hotel is also barely ten minutes away from the mountain.
Fresh powder greets snowboarders and skiers who come here expecting just that. When contrasted with most of the other resorts along 1-70, it is situated rather far away from Denver but provides the privilege of much lesser skier traffic in the car and on the slopes. It has an abundance of tree skiing and has better cruisers than anywhere else. Snowboarders and skiers are shuttled toward expert terrain by the snow-cat at Monarch Mountain. This expert terrain is mostly a lot more advanced terrain than most other snow-cat operation’s ski area.
The inexpensive lodging and affordable prices make Monarch Mountain an attractive and feasible choice for families. For lodging, the families have many options, as they can choose from Gunnison, Vista, Buena and Salida. At the base of the Monarch Mountain, a mountain day lodge flourishes with snowboard, child care, and ski schools. Directly at the base of the mountain, there is also parking.
The Monarch Mountain has 62 runs, of which 27% are beginner Runs, 30% are intermediate runs, 32% are advanced runs and 11% are expert runs. The longest run is 1 mile, with two terrain parks and a total of 800 acres of skiable terrain. The park is expected to open on the 18th of November in 2016 and is supposed to close down on 9th of April 2017, so it will remain open for a total of 137 days, from 9:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the evening. Last year, it was open for some 143 days and the average snowfall there is up to 350 inches. Monarch Mountain has been running now for a total of 77 years, with five lifts, of which 1 is a quad chair, and the other four are double chairs. Its base elevation is 10789 feet while its top elevation is 11952 feet.
When it first opened in 1939, Monarch’s only rope tow ran up the infamous Gunbarrel run, which was a steep, long and heavily Moguled run. A Chevy engine powered the tow rope initially. After having been purchased and sold numerous times, Monarch is now owned by multiple parties, none of whom own any more than 25% of it. 2007 saw the construction of a Sprung building that was meant to be the new location for the rental shop and the ski school. The ski school in question offers caters to and teaches all three disciplines, that is, skiing, telemarking and snowboarding to people of all age groups and all levels of abilities (beginners, intermediates and advanced).
Those interested are welcome to sign for both, group or private lessons, which are offered in two ways – two on one or one on one. Any equipment that may be needed for skiing, telemarking and snowboarding are available to rent at the rent shop, along with the facility of waxing and tune ups.
In 2008, the Slo-Motion was converted into the K-2 terrain park that we see today, with all its logs, stumps, and jumps, which by the way, are all natural. An even better feature is that anyone can use the run, irrespective of whether they mean to use any of the features or not. What is now known as the Never Summer terrain park was once filled with Aftershock! Terrain park’s gear. Panorma double chairlift originates from a small park. At the base before the front lodge lies the Freeway, located right next to the Aftershock terrain park. Due to this, the people residing at the Lodge and the dock are blessed with a breathtaking view. This, which is also the terrain park of the Monarch, is the location for the multiple competitions that are held throughout the season.
Monarch Ski Area also happens to be close to the top of the Monarch Pass and the Monarch Mountain, so it is named after both of these. Monarch Mountain and Monarch Pass too are named in honor of the town that the DOT had to raze away in order to US50 to pass. This town was present in the 19th century and was called Monarch. For a long time after the town had been razed, these Elk did not have the name ‘Monarch,' so not much is known about this town now, except that it became an abandoned place soon.
Monarch Mountain Statistics
Base Elevation: 10789 feet
Summit Elevation: 11952 feet
The season passes remain on sale until the 4th of November. Even now, as the season approaches, continuous events are happening, like the snow dance and the Pueblo Chili Fest. So there is never a day which is not exciting here!
When it comes to lodging, you have many options, like the mid-level main lodge, Sidewinder Saloon that offers a complete menu, freshly brewed beer. It also features daily specials, but you have got to try the nachos, bloody Mary, and burgers. The restaurant also has wide, slope-side windows to oblige its customers with beautiful views. Another place to opt for is the Elmo’s Bar, a bar with views the likes of which have never been seen before. Or perhaps, visit the Gunbarrel Cafeteria, that has a very hospitable staff, and offers lunch, breakfast and take away. Fill your stomachs to the full here before hitting the slopes. You can also take away some energy bars that will keep your energy high as you conquer those high slopes. The last option is the Java Stop. The bad news is that they do not accept Starbucks reward cards or gift cards, but the good news is that they do brew and serve Starbucks coffee. It is also a good place to visit for a light snack to keep those hunger pangs at bay.
Close to Monarch Mountain is the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area where those looking for an adrenaline rush can opt for white water rafting or kayaking the United States’ most commercially rafted river. Other things to do include fishing, which is quite a challenge here, but you can catch some world-class rainbow and brown trout. In the upper part of Arkansa Valley, visitors often go wildlife watching, picnicking, hiking, camping, rock climbing, and mountain biking among a lot more. So go ahead, pack your bags and visit this place with your family and friends; making the most of this perfect skiing area!