Monarch Mountain Ski Area

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Written by Cassidy Barnes posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2010

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Monarch Ski Area is in south-central Colorado about 2.5 hours from Denver and 2 hours from Colorado Springs. Situated along the Continental Divide, it is easy to reach from anywhere in Colorado or New Mexico.

Wide open tree skiing at Monarch Mountain Ski Area.

Families like this resort above the sunny Arkansas River Valley because it’s centered around one base area. Drop everybody off at the same base area to start the day and easily meet up for lunch and at the end of the day. The slogan at Monarch is “Lose the crowds, not your friends.”

The resort has been open since 1939 and is uncrowded even on powder days, providing a relaxing family environment where the little ones can learn and the big ones can get their fill of high-country terrain.

The base of the mountain is at 10,790 feet and has a summit of 11,952 feet, which adds up to a vertical drop of 1,162 feet.

The snowfall is serious at Monarch, with 350 or more inches annually. The resort functions on all-natural snow from mid November to early April.

The 63 trails are within the Sawatch Range in the Colorado Rockies. The ski area is within the San Isabel National Forest and operates there under a permit from the U.S. Forest Service.

The terrain is rated 14% beginner, 28% intermediate, 27% advanced and 31% expert. The longest run is one mile long.

While it’s a great family resort, Monarch also has lots of expert terrain, including bowls, steeps, tree skiing, and Snowcat tours that take advanced skiers and boarders to more black diamond terrain.

New at Monarch is Mirkwood Basin, accessible via the Breezeway lift and a hike, this area opens up another 130 acres of terrain for visitors. The terrain has 1,100 vertical feet of extreme skiing and riding, including chutes and glades, rock cliffs.

Salida, Poncha Springs, and Buena Vista are nearby towns with shops and restaurants where you can stay during your trip at Monarch.

Reach the resort from Denver by taking Colorado Highway 285 south for about 120 miles to Highway 50. Follow 50 for 13.5 miles and look for Monarch on your right. From Colorado Springs, take Colorado Highway 115 south for 31.2 miles to Highway 50. Follow the highway west 86 miles and look for Monarch Mountain on the right. A shuttle bus is available from the town of Salinas, Colorado.

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