You can read about every Colorado ski resort in the Edge, our winter sports guide, as we roll it out online. Each description lays out what's new, what the signature experience is, what to splurge on, how to go cheap and, of course, what to drink. Now, head for the trees.
MONARCH SKI AREA
What’s new: Monarch built a new snowcat yurt at its base area this year, where all of its snowcat tours will start, have lunch, and end, says Monarch spokeswoman Jessie Smith. “It’s from Colorado Yurts, so we’re excited to have our second Colorado-made yurt on the mountain.”
Signature experience: “Get out and around the town of Salida,” Smith recommends. “Even in the winter, the area offers great mountain biking, awesome fly fishing on the Arkansas River, great local shopping and dining — and the local European-style zipline runs in the winter, too. Because Salida has a much more temperate climate than the ski area, some people can fit in skiing, biking, kayaking and fishing all in one day.”
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Splurge: Monarch Cat Skiing starts at $250 per person in the early and late season, and $350 per person from January 9 to March 27. And it’s worth every penny: You’ll prowl over 1,000 acres of expert terrain, dropping in on wide-open bowls, steep chutes and tree glades, getting in as much as six hours of skiing or riding, and dropping between 8,000 and 10,000 total vertical feet. You’ll be hungry afterward, so Smith suggests dinner at Laughing Ladies in Salida while you’re spoiling yourself. “They often do pairings with local wine, beer and spirits, and have a great selection of local foods.”
Ski bum tips: “The Simple Lodge & Hostel is definitely a great one,” Smith says. “The other thing I would mention is Quincy’s. It’s kind of a quirky thing to mention, since it’s a steakhouse, but they have $3.50 margaritas, and they only serve one entree each evening, so they can price their meals super-low. On a Friday or Saturday, you’re looking at a twelve-ounce prime rib dinner for $17. On a weekday, you could do a six-ounce filet mignon for $9.95. They have a variety of sides for each meal, but that’s pretty much the only thing you get to choose out of the meal besides your drink. So, a ski bum steak dinner. Livin’ large.”
Drink locally: Elevation Beer Company is the mountain’s official brewer, “and they’ve even named their porter after one of our runs: Little Mo Porter,” Smith says. “We love that their tasting room is family-friendly, with games and toys for the kiddos, and that they’re just down the mountain. We also serve Elevation in the Sidewinder Saloon and in Elmo’s Bar.”