Monarch Ski Area

Monarch Ski Area is a wonderful Colorado destination for skiers and snowboarders who are interested in relatively low rates and reduced crowds. The ample terrain is just one more reason to plan a visit to the Monarch Ski Resort, and you might be interested to know that some 350 inches of snow blanket the terrain on an average annual basis. There are plenty of reasons why a day or more at the Monarch Ski Area can be rewarding, and since the area stays open from mid-November to early April, there are also plenty of opportunities to enjoy everything that it has to offer.

The Monarch Ski Resort might not get as much attention as more glamorous Colorado ski resorts such as Aspen and Vail, but that's just fine by most locals. You won't usually spend a lot of time in the lift lines, and the terrain offers more than enough to keep things interesting. Many Colorado residents consider the Monarch Ski Area to be one of the state's best kept secrets, and this has a lot to do with its varied terrain and its relatively affordable rates. Breathtaking mountain views only add to the overall allure, with some of the best views being found along the ridge line on the Skywalker run.

As is true of many Colorado ski resorts, such as Arapahoe Basin, the Monarch Ski Resort has been hard at work in recent years adding new terrain. Of the 800 total skiable acres, 130 are part of the newer Mirkwood Basin area. This area can be reached by foot along a hiking trail or can be accessed using the Breezeway lift. Upon arrival, skiers and snowboarders can tackle the extreme Mirkwood Basin terrain, which features a collection of glades, chutes, cliffs, and tree runs. If you're not an advanced skier or snowboarder, intermediate and beginner trails can be found on the main mountain. As for those who like to do tricks and get some air, the Monarch Ski Resort also features terrain parks. Log slides, boxes, rails, and a big tabletop jump are just some of the special perks that can be found in the terrain parks.

The Monarch Ski Resort is very much a family-friendly resort. The lack of crowds and the laid-back atmosphere help to make any and all visitors feel comfortable, and lessons are easy to book for kids and adults alike. As you might expect, a rental shop can be found at the resort, as can a few dining facilities. The dining facilities include a restaurant that serves food along the lines of sandwiches, pizza, and burgers for lunch and a saloon-style eatery that features a full menu and plenty of cold Colorado beer. When a warm pick-me-up is in order, a visit to the café might be the option of choice.

As for where to find the Monarch Ski Resort, it is located in the south-central part of the state between the towns of Gunnison and Salida. Area lodging options include affordable hotels, even cheaper motels, and charming bed and breakfasts. You can also choose to rent a Monarch ski condo if you prefer rental-style accommodations. Some of the area lodging establishments offer Monarch ski packages that include accommodations and discounted lift tickets, so even if you are leaning towards a condo rental, you might give the motels and B&Bs a look.

Should a Monarch ski condo be your lodging option of choice, there are some very well-equipped condos to choose from. The most attractive area condos feature full kitchens, cable TV, a DVD player, a CD player, laundry facilities, and outdoor hot tubs. Some cabin rentals that can sleep anywhere from two to eight people can also be found in the area and can be an ideal alternative to a Monarch ski condo if you're looking for a more rustic rental experience.

Image: rtadlock (flickr)

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