It’s snowing above 11,000 feet and if you’re like us, you’re starting to get stoked for ski season. And nothing fuels that stoke like news that one of the coolest little ski areas in Colorado, which happens to sit at 10,790 feet, is opening up more opportunities for uphill travel.
Nestled into the eastern slope of Colorado’s Continental Divide, just 20 miles west of Salida and only three hours from Denver in a stress free location away from I-70, Monarch Mountain typically receives more than 350 inches of snow annually. It’s also one of only three resorts in the state to operate exclusively on natural snow.
Natural snow, more than 800 skiable acres and 1,162 vertical feet, including hike-to zones like Mirkwood Basin that opens up another 130 acres of primo off-piste skiing and the renowned Monarch Cat Skiing operation, takes you into the yesteryears of an overall more authentic skiing experience. You’ll also rarely find a lift line at Monarch, part of the few remaining old-school ski resorts in the state that will always have a special place in our hearts and minds.
Salida has been growing over the last half dozen years or so as a mountain bike mecca, a creative arts community, and of course a fly fishing and paddling hot spot in the summer months. And over the past four years, Monarch Mountain has invested more than $7 million in infrastructure updates to enhance the skier experience. The main lodge has been expanded, lift terminals have been updated and the cat yurt has been installed, with more updates and improvements planned.The yurt was designed by world-renowned Colorado Yurt Co., and this year skiers and snowboarders will be able to take advantage of the shelter for a meet up locale to start the day and as an easy on-mountain spot for lunch and mid-day breaks.
But of most interest, Monarch is adding dedicated uphill travel lanes to the mountain that will allow uphill skiers and snowshoers a dedicated route even during operating hours. Monarch will continue to allow uphill travel across the mountain during non-operational hours according to the ski area’s uphill travel policy.
Last year Gear Institute testers and staff were loving and crushing the uphill skiing at Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain and Loveland Ski Area, and are hoping to do the same this year at Eldora Mountain Resort as well — more to come on that, as the tiny Front Range area was recently acquired by Powdr Corp.
All images courtesy of Monarch Mountain
Convenient touring rentals for Monarch guests are available from Salida Mountain Sports. You can also pick up a Monarch pass for $459 for adults if you want the option to ride lifts without crowds all season long. Follow @MonarchMountain for more information.