Monarch mountain is located high on Monarch pass on the continental divide. The summit ridge of the resort lies along the continental divide, and on clear days offers amazing views westward.
Monarch offers varied terrain, almost no lift lines and LOTS of powder- and average of 350+ natural inches each year. Monarch tends to be uncrowded/empty during the weekdays, allowing powder to build up all week long for amazing weekend skiing.
While not a large, glamorous resort, this is truly a gem not to be missed. Monarch offers varied terrain- several bowls, including the hike-to Double Diamond Mirkwood bowl, LOTS of glades, steeps, cruisers, and family friendly runs. What Monarch lacks in vertical and size it more than makes up for in the quality of the snow and quality of terrain.
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Ride Guide
- 8 Other
- 9 Resources
123 miles from Denver (via US 285/US 50), 117 miles west from Colorado Springs (via CO 115 and US 50) approx 100 miles west of Pueblo via US 50.
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No lodging facilities on Mountain- Monarch Mountain Lodge is 3 miles East of the resort with prompt shuttle service. Additional lodging in Salida, about 14 miles away.
The parking lot is free, and even the back of the lot is less than a 5 minute walk to the lifts- the worst spot in the lot rivals what other resorts charge $20 or more for their "premier" parking. The Advanced Gunbarrel run can be skied out to the parking lot.
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Powderhounds guide to skiing Monarch
YOU WILL FIND POWDER AT THIS MOUNTAIN, even if it has not snowed in a week. Because Monarch does not see heavy weekday traffic (or really weekend traffic for that matter), finding powder is like jumping off a diving board and finding water.
Several areas of the mountain require short traverses (or simply well maintained speeds) to reach certain runs. Unless otherwise mentioned, these traverses typically take less than a minute, and can lead to first tracks and fresh lines even into the afternoon.
Where to look for powder:
Beginner runs- Most beginner runs will be groomed, But for those looking to get comfortable in pow, Drifter and Liberty off of the Garfield or Pioneer lifts often have lots of powder, even several days after storms. These runs require about a 1 minute traverse from the Roundabout or Sidewinder runs. Skywalker off of the Panorama lift can also keep good powder from the entrance to Curecanti Bowl to its intersection with Sleepy hollow- a few short traverses needed along Skywalker.
More Difficult- Lots of simply amazing options for Powder here. The ridge served by Panorama is a powder MAGNET. The area is well sheltered from wind, so much that snow COVERS the trees along the Panorama lift line. Even on windy days, this section of the mountain tends to be calm as a tomb. Hit Turbo, Short N Sweet, and Quick Draw when it is snowing- all will reward you with a TON of deep snow, and I have had plenty of days where the snow is falling so fast that you get first tracks EVERY RUN! Turbo tends to get tracked up quickly, but because Short N Sweet and Quick Draw require another short traverse (less than a minute) to reach, they hold deep snow and clean lines for weeks after storms. I have yet to ski Short N Sweet and not find deep snow. From the Garfield/Pioneer side, North Forty and Tele Alley both require about a 2 minute traverse to reach, and as such are almost a sure bet to hit unmolested snow even days after storms.
Advanced- Essentially the entire mountain. Of note here is Mirage off of Panorama. like the adjacent blue runs, it accumulates snow like crazy. The black bowls are no brainers for powder- Outback, Shagnasty, and Southbound from the Breezeway lift are almost sure bets no matter how long it has been since a storm, and Curecanti bowl off the Panorama lift (can also be partially accessed from Pioneer) is also a huge powder hole. From the Garfield lift, Kanonen and Tango tend to take most of the advanced traffic, while there is virtually always deep snow to be found on Ajax and Examiner- essentially the more you cut skiers left off of the Tango/Kanonen/Cleanzer/AJAX face, the deeper you can expect the snow to be- simply find your line and enjoy!
If for some inexplicable reason, the above don't yield quality snow (impossible!), Geno's Meadow served off of Slo-Motion (AKA K2 Organic Terrain Park) off of Breezeway is nice glade that will keep the deep stuff. Gunbarrel, on the far northern edge of the area, requires about a 5 minute traverse to reach, and is also pretty daunting- excluding Mirkwood, it has the steepest continuous pitch at Monarch, and is one of the longer black runs. Its challenge and traverse mean that it almost always has some snow to be found.
Expert Only- Hike to Mirkwood (about 15 minutes) if there is no powder here, you obviously died along the way and found yourself in hell. If hiking isn't your thing, cat skiing is also available.
- Monarch Mountain Website
- Monarch Page at Colorado Ski History
- Unofficial Guide to Monarch Ski and Snowboard Area