Monarch Mountain doesn't have snow-making operations, so its opening date depends entirely on natural snow conditions; those were finally good enough for Monarch to open in late November. It should be a big year for Monarch, which has been modernizing its base-area facilities and greatly expanding its hike-to and snowcat-serviced terrain for the 2017-2018 season.
Here are five things you need to know about Monarch:
1. Don’t miss the “C’monarch over and ski for yourself” deal: Bring a season pass from any other Colorado ski area and get a Monarch lift ticket for $54 — 40 percent off the window price of $89 for an adult lift ticket. Or just spring for the $479 Monarch season pass.
2. Looking to step up your game? Jack’s Pack lesson packages for intermediate-level skiers ages thirteen and up are available for $60 for a single session or $350 for a six-pack program promising to take you “from blue to black...maybe double black,” with emphasis on advanced skills like moguls and carving in powder. Affordable group and private lessons are also available, for skiers and riders of all ages and ability levels.
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3. For affordable lodging options, try the Monarch Mountain Lodge, three miles down the road from the ski area (monarchmountainlodge.com), or the Simple Lodge and Hostel in Salida, with bunk rooms starting at $24 per person and private rooms starting at $65 (simplelodge.com).
4. Monarch Snowcat Tours added more than 900 acres of new terrain for the 2017-2018 season, bringing the total to 1,635 acres in the Mirkwood Basin, just outside the ski area’s boundaries. Pricing starts at $300 in the early season (December 30 through January 7) and late season (March 26 through April 8) and jumps to $400 during the regular season. Avalanche beacons, optional demo gear from Head and Never Summer, lunch and post-shred beers are included in the price. Book at skimonarch.com.
5. After a day of pounding powder, Monarch Mountain spokesman Dan Bender recommends that you soak your well-worn muscles at one of four nearby hot springs locations: Cottonwood, Joyful Journey, Valley View or Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort, which each offer lodging options.