Monarch Mountain, CO is for Soul Skiing

Greg Obernesser | | Featured ArticleFeatured Article
Beautiful mountain vista from Monarch Mountain. Credit: Monarch Mountain

Brought to you by Monarch Mountain

Monarch Mountain is a mom & pop hidden gem that most people in the United States haven’t heard about. When I moved to Colorado, I was excited to ski all the resorts in the state. When a friend asked me if I wanted to go ski at Monarch, I was excited and curious but had never heard of it. It is a little ski area nestled at the top of Monarch Pass near Salida, Colorado, and is next to some of the most incredible mountains Colorado has to offer. Although it is not very well known, Monarch provides incredible snow, a wide array of terrain suited for any skier, and a genuine ski experience for soul skiing.

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Hucking cliffs into deep snow! Credit: Monarch Mountain

Monarch Mountain gets incredible snow and opened this season with all-natural snow. It is without question that the snow at Monarch Mountain is magical. I fondly remember hiking up to Mirkwood Bowl, an expert terrain area that tops out at 11,920ft (~3,640m), and skiing unbelievable light fluff. It was like someone took chicken feather snow and champagne powder and put them in a blender. In a typical season, Monarch gets around 350 inches. This season, Monarch was very fortunate to get an early season dump and had its earliest opening in 50 years. In late October, they had 17 inches of snow in 48 hours! Monarch Mountain is “au naturale” and doesn’t blow snow. Talk about environmentally friendly! You don’t have to worry about reclaimed water blowing recycled pesticides and its effects on the earth. Also, did I mention how much better skiing is on natural snow? Personally, I’ve never had a powder day on fake snow. 

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There is never enough good snow at Monarch! Credit: Ski Monarch

The terrain around Monarch is perfect for all types of skiers. Want to learn how to ski? Want to learn how to ski trees? Want to learn how to ski bumps? Want to learn how to ski bowls? If so, Monarch is a fantastic option for beginners looking to make their very first turns to the advanced skier looking to hone their skills. Monarch has 7 total lifts that service 800 skiable acres with a vertical drop of 1,162ft. There are a total of 66 trails with a fantastic spread based on skier ability (23% Easy, 26% Intermediate, 37% Difficult, 12% Extreme). All-in-all if you can’t find terrain you like at Monarch, then there is a good chance you really aren’t that into skiing!

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A beautiful sunrise before an epic ski day. Credit: Monarch Mountain

Monarch is what the ski industry still needs. I grew up going to ski resorts like Monarch Mountain. When I started to ski out west, the whole concept of a “ski resort” seemed odd to me. Valet parking, pay to park, lockers you have to pay for to put your stuff in, fancy bistro-style meals, bars with frivolous $15 cocktails, ski valet, and various other amenities that I had never heard of. When I first parked at Monarch, it felt like I was walking up to someone’s house and they were inviting me to come play in their backyard. There is nothing “Disneyland” about it, and that’s a good thing. Skiing has become insanely expensive not just for the individual, but for families. Monarch is a place where you get an incredible experience for a fantastic price. Sack lunches, hiding your shoes in a corner or under a table, no one in Bogner outfits complaining about how their boots hurt and the snow isn’t that great. Everyone is having a good time and the vibe is genuine skiing culture. 

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Powder skiing at Monarch Mountain! Credit: Ski Monarch

Bottomline; Monarch Mountain is all fun and no froth. If you are looking for an authentic ski trip that won’t break the bank and still deliver on snow and terrain, look no further than Monarch Mountain. Since going there a few years ago, and returning a happy customer, Monarch still has the magic that the best parts of skiing have to offer.


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2 thoughts on “Monarch Mountain, CO is for Soul Skiing

  1. Never been to Monarch, but planning a trip. I like groomer runs (blues & blacks) with some pitch on them to offer a challenge and provide some good speed. Would you say that Monarch has such? The website pictures and webcams make the runs look a bit flat.

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