Monarch Mountain

Monarch Mountain, Colorado

Written by Greg and Heather Burke

Monarch Mountain, located in South Central Colorado, offers 800 acres of pristine skiing along the Continental Divide in the Sawatch Range within the San Isabel National Forest. Monarch Mountain is a real Colorado ski area, no fancy real estate developments or high-end shopping (in fact no slope side lodging since its national forest), just a history of monarch butterflies migrating from Mexico - hence the name.  It's a secret place, but it makes our Top 10 Colorado Ski Resorts.

Monarch is homespun - dating back to 1939, but heaven on a powder day as they just don’t get many advanced skiers. Not many skiers and riders have made it to Monarch on their Colorado ski trips - which makes this place a bit of a powder secret. The Panorama (at 11,952') and Pioneer lifts deliver you to plenty of un-altered terrains, glades and fun soft snow trails with clever names like Dire Straits and Examiner. You will feel like a local butterfly as you flit from trail to bowls to untouched snow on its 63 trails served by 5 lifts, one of which - Pioneer is a fixed grip quad, the rest are old school doubles.  Monarch has awesome double black diamond extreme terrain in Southbound and Mirkwood Bowl which is accessed with a short 10-minute hike from the top of the Breezeway lift, through patrol gates. 

Monarch Mountain also offers Cat Skiing in the backcountry of Mirkwood Basin to score you backcountry snow on 1,200 acres of steeps and glades. Monarch snow cat tours are like an all day ski limo for 12 skiers that gives you private access to powdery bowls and tree skiing with your two guides for under $300 a day, including morning safety protocol, cat rides and skiing, lunch at the base and more freshies in the afternoon. 

Monarch is reputed for its friendly locals and abundant natural snow, over 350 inches annually, they don't' make snow, they get it. You can park your car and walk right to the lifts, lift tickets are affordable and you can't get lost as all trails flow back to the base. Monarch's beginner area right at the base is convenient for beginners, including a covered magic carpet. 

Monarch's recently expanded base lodge is warm and welcoming and happens to get high marks for its elevation, the highest base in North America at 10,790' (ten feet above Arapahoe Basin's base). Monarch is also home to the highest Starbucks in the world. The Sidewinder Saloon in Monarch's Lodge is a great spot for a sit-down table service lunch or an après ski beer. The nachos are not to be missed - with lots of Colorado beef. Good news for Monarch maniacs, the leather strap bar at Sidewinder Saloon is still intact, along with plenty of local Colorado micro brew beer taps. 

Monarch has big plans for expansion to add an additional chairlift on the backside, but being on US Forest Service land, this development could take time - must work with the tree huggers and some bureaucracy. For now, Monarch offers an unhurried pace, untouched powder days after a storm and fun trail skiing as well. B's Bash is one of the steepest homologated FIS Slalom race trails in Colorado.

Monarch Mountain is three hours from Denver, closer to Colorado Springs where their day skiers come from. For lodging, stay in the great nearby town of Salida, just 18 miles away when you are skiing Monarch Mountain. On your Colorado ski tour, you could combine skiing at Crested Butte, an hour and a half from Monarch.

The Palace Hotel in downtown Salida is the best place to stay when skiing Monarch - a beautifully restored 1909 boutique hotel in this cutesy cowboy town that attracts outdoor enthusiasts as much in summer for fishing and boating on the Arkansas River as it does in winter for skiing. The Palace Hotel has 14 spacious suites with views of the river and surrounding mountains, some with kitchens and all with modern amenities and an old world Western feel. The Palace Hotel location is steps from some great Salida dining, bars, shops and art galleries on F Street for your après ski enjoyment.

Elevation

Base
10789 feet
Base
Summit
11952 feet
Summit
Vertical Drop
1163 feet
Vertical Drop

Lifts

Quad Chair
1
Quad Chair
Double Chairs
4
Double Chairs
Surface Lift
1
Surface Lift

Terrain

Beginner Runs
23 %
Beginner Runs
Intermediate Runs
28 %
Intermediate Runs
Advanced Runs
36 %
Advanced Runs
Expert Runs
13 %
Expert Runs
Total Runs
64
Total Runs
Terrain Parks
2
Terrain Parks
Longest Run
1 mile
Longest Run
Skiable Terrain
800 acres
Skiable Terrain

Opening and closing dates

Season Open Date Close Date
2017/2018 11/27/2017 (estimated) 04/13/2018 (estimated)
2016/2017 12/02/2016 04/16/2017
2015/2016 11/20/2015 04/10/2016
2014/2015 11/27/2014 04/12/2015

Lift ticket and season pass prices

Category Age restrictions Price (USD unless otherwise stated)
Adult 18 - 61 $89
Child 6 & under Free
Child 7 - 12 $43
Child 13 - 17 $59
Senior 62 - 68 $59
Season Pass $479

Overall Rating

4.7 / 5 based on 10 reviews
Devin

This is by far my favorite resort in colorado. Monarch mountain is the place I learned to snowboard with easy runs for beginners and fast runs for intermediate riders and back country riding if that's more your style. Friendly staff all the way around from the bar to the lifts. The best POW days happen at monarch!

Posted on Nov 09, 2017
Howard feller from Colorado

Great resort for first timers and learning. Enjoy my time while riding the slopes. Friendly and professional staff always eager to help when called upon. Really good snow and powder.

Posted on Oct 25, 2017
blake vigil from Colorado

i live in pueblo colorado and monarch is about an hour from us,this mountain we go to about 15 times per season and it gets exspencive. this ticket would make life so much easier.

Posted on Oct 12, 2017
Cole Lawson from North Carolina

Awesome powder, no lines, and a terrific mountain to board down. A little out of the way but worth the drive every day. A must for all levels on the slopes.

Posted on Oct 08, 2017
Scott Burke from Colorado

Monarch ski resort is my go to place for skiing and snowboarding for my entire family. You can get lift tickets at a fair price and it offers plenty of varieties of terrain to suit all of our ski levels.

Posted on Oct 06, 2017
Jordan Kendall-Ball

Great down to earth Mountain providing family-friendly fun. The wait to open is more often worth it for the quality of all natural snow. Prices have been raised a bit too much in the last few years in my opinion for the season pass.

Posted on Nov 08, 2017
William Dollar from Colorado

Wake up in the morning and check the snow. Pack up the Jeep and we're ready to go. We're taking 50 West for 30 miles. I look to my side and see my daughter smile!!! Cause it's Monarch baby gonna ski all day Yippee Yip. Yippee Yip Hooray!!!

Posted on Oct 21, 2017
Wade Sonenberg from Georgia

Love this place! If you can catch a weekday when it’s dumping, you’ll own your own piece of heaven! Wolf Creek without the 4 hour car ride. Summit county pow without the snobs and crowds.

Posted on Oct 08, 2017
Josh Plummer from North Carolina

Monarch is a great place to learn and experience good powder without lines. Plenty of good runs make for a fun day. I would definitely recommend monarch for a natural experience and for those looking to avoid crowded resorts.

Posted on Oct 07, 2017
Calob Rundell from Colorado

Monarch has what may be the best snow in all of Colorado. Without the large crowds of larger mountains, and pretty much only locals during the weekdays, the snow stays in great condition for a good long time.
By the numbers it may seem small, but Monarch has enough terrain and variety to keep anyone having fun all day. The hike-to terrain of Mirkwood is top notch side-country.

Posted on Sep 27, 2017