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Mighty Monarch: Go where the snow is

Orcs in Mirkwood Bowl at Monarch MountainEXPAND
Orcs in Mirkwood Bowl at Monarch Mountain
Candace Horgan

Tuesday morning, I headed out in search of finding snow. First stop: Monarch Mountain.


While the Front Range is still a fair bit bony, parts of southwestern Colorado have gotten pounded. Monarch Mountain, located near the top of Monarch Pass on Highway 50, has a modest vertical drop of 1,162 feet and 800 acres of skiing.

Monarch is in many ways a time warp. There are no quads, no high speed detachable lifts. Double chairs whisk skiers to the different summits. The base area, which has a nice bar where we went for an apr├Ęs snack and beverage, lacks the glitz of places like Vail, but has a charm the big areas lack.

Snow coverage at Monarch was very good -- not deep powder, but runs that were soft without needing a cat. Moguls abounded on the expert runs, and small hucks could be found on many of the runs off the Panorama lift.

The best part of the day was the 20 minute hike up to Mirkwood Bowl to access a chute with some not quite powder snow and a small drop in from a cornice at the top. Standing above the chute, a stunning 360-degree vista greeted the eye, with views of the San Juans to the southwest and the Collegiate Peaks to the east.

The drop in at MirkwoodEXPAND
The drop in at Mirkwood
Candace Horgan




Looking east from the summit of Mirkwood Bowl to the Collegiate Peaks.EXPAND
Looking east from the summit of Mirkwood Bowl to the Collegiate Peaks.
Candace Horgan




Looking down No Name.EXPAND
Looking down No Name.
Candace Horgan




Looking at Christmas Tree from the Breeze Way liftEXPAND
Looking at Christmas Tree from the Breeze Way lift
Candace Horgan