What was once a mining town with saloons, gaming halls and about 100 houses has been reincarnated as a top ski and snowboard destination. Monarch Mountain ski area, perched atop a mountain pass in the rugged Sawatch Mountain Range, lies just north of the old Madonna Mine. Famous for its deep snow, diversity of terrain, excellent tree skiing, crowd-less slopes and backcountry snowcat operation, Monarch is a mountain for adventurous travelers and families alike.
Other top activities along Monarch Pass include horseback riding, snowmobiling and riding the Monarch Crest Scenic Tramway to over 12,000 feet for unmatched panoramic views (summer only). Cross-country skiers will enjoy quiet stretches along the Old Monarch Pass Road, while hikers and mountain bikers will enjoy exploring a section of the 500-mile Colorado Trail. Ghost towns and hot springs are also within miles.
Although one lodge serves the ski area, most amenities are located about 20 minutes down the pass in Salida. Here, visitors will find plenty of lodging options, a diverse selection of restaurants and an historic downtown filled with art galleries. The Arkansas River, the most popular whitewater rafting spot in the state, also flows through Salida.