Monarch Mountain

Closed
Monarch mountain
Heather Burke
SnowPak Local Insider
Heather Burke

Pros

  • Remote location keep crowds to a minimum
  • Variety of intermediate and beginner trails
  • Designated hike-to backcountry terrain
  • Incredible views of surrounding mountain ranges
  • Affordable lift tickets compared to larger Colorado ski resorts

Cons

  • Expert runs are short and limited to the backcountry area
  • Majority of lifts are two-seaters
  • Remote location (3-3.5 hours from Denver)
  • No lodging at base and limited lodging nearby
  • On-mountain dining limited to the base area

Overall

4.9

Monarch Mountain, located in South Central Colorado, offers 800 ac 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. 

17/18 Historical Snowfall

Best month to go

Late February to early March.

Being a Southern Colorado Mountain, winter storms might not hit Monarch like they do in the Northern Ranges like the Summit County or Aspen/Snowmass. Monarch’s high elevation helps the mountain retain the snow it receives but the best time to go would be late February to early March, before spring break.
Airplane

FLY TO

Denver International Airport

Car

DRIVE TO

Monarch Mountain (3.5 hours)

Monarch (3-5 mi)

  • Closest area with lodging, less than 10 minutes drive away
  • Limited accommodation
  • Has some lodges, condos and cabins

Find accommodations around here

Salida (20-25 mi)

  • More accommodation options than Monarch
  • Approximately 30 minutes drive away
  • More dining options than Monarch

Find accommodations around here

For beginners

Beginners will love the variety of runs Monarch provides with most trails sitting below the treeline and protected from the wind. The beginner area near the base is a good place for never-evers to start off. The runs off Pioneer Quad chairlift has some of the best green trails including Sleepy Hollow or hop aboard the Panorama Lift to Skywalker for stunning mountaintop views.

For intermediates

Intermediates will find plenty of blues across the mountain but intermediate-advanced skiers looking to test their skills should try out some of the black runs around. Start off on the more achievable Mirage and Kanonen before taking it to the next level on High Anxiety and JR's, both ungroomed 30-degree slopes!

For experts

Advanced/experts won't find many challenging runs for them inbounds. Examiner and Christmas Tree off the Garfield lift or the steep and mogul filled runs off Panorama lift are best for advanced skiers and riders. Experts, on the other hand, will have to hike their way to the Mirkwood backcountry area for the most challenging terrain here.

Find freshies

Freshies can be easily found, but only for those willing to hike. Inbounds, the best spot to find the best stuff is on Gunbarrel. It's quite a hike from the Pioneer lift which means it sees less traffic so freshies stay untracked for longer. Otherwise over in the Mirkwood backcountry area is where most of the untouched powder can be found.

Ditch the crowds

You won't have the ditch the crowds here because there are none! Monarch has minimal to no lift lines plus the chairlifts are fast! If there are any queues, they'll most likely be on a weekend and on the Breezeway lift and Panorama lift, which serve most of the advanced and expert terrain including the Mirkwood backcountry area.

Non skiers

Besides the uphill trails on the mountain and snowmobile tours nearby, non-skiers won't find much to entertain themselves at Monarch Mountain, considering there is no ski town. There are also no warming huts on the mountain meaning the small base lodge can get crowded with skiers and riders; which isn't very ideal for non-skiers to hang in.

Families

The trails off the Panorama lift and Pioneer lift are generally the most popular among families with plenty of green and blue trails off both. Those looking to ride up the mountain together should take the Panorama lift, it's the only quad in the resort. Monarch's reasonably priced lift tickets also make it a budget-friendly option for families.

Monarch Mountain vs
Monarch MountainArapahoe Basin
beginner23 %10 %
intermediate28 %30 %
advanced36 %37 %
expert13 %23 %
total runs64 109
ski area800ac 960ac
summit elevation11,952ft 13,050ft
total lifts6 8
child lift ticketFree Free
adult lift ticket$89 $100
uncrowded
snow
back country
value for money
average total snowfall170″ 179″

Monarch Mountain Reviews

Superb

4.6 / 5

based on 13 reviews

How well the resort caters for beginner skiers / boarders

Beginners

How well the resort caters for intermediate skiers / boarders?

Intermediates

How well the resort caters for advanced skiers / boarders

Advanced

How accessible and convenient it is to get to this resort from a major destination

Accessibility

Quality of the off-piste terrain

Side/Backcountry

Overall value for money of the resort

Value for money

Quality of lifts, lift speed and lift layout in the resort

Lifts

Quantity and quality of the snow

Snow

How uncrowded is the resort

Uncrowded

Après ski and dining options

Town

Services and facilities e.g. child care, tubing, health care, equipment hire

Facilities

How family friendly is this resort?

Family Friendliness
Very Good!

4 / 5

Oct 07, 2017
JPJosh P.
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.
Superb!

5 / 5

Oct 06, 2017
SBScott B.
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.
Superb!

5 / 5

Sep 27, 2017
CRCalob R.
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... More
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