Guidebook

Ski Powder for Days in Mirkwood Basin at Monarch Mountain

Monarch Mountain's hike-to terrain boasts challenging lines and holds soft powder for days after a storm!

Description

Monarch Mountain hides from the hordes of skiers that swarm the I-70 corridor every weekend. Resting at the very top of the Continental Divide many miles to the south of the I-70 madness, this small hometown resort resists the pressures of modern-day ski trends. The resort is still family-owned. You won't find any condos, or even a hotel, at the base area to stay at. All of the chairs are slow fixed-grip lifts. And the snow is 100% natural.

That's right: Monarch Mountain is the only ski area in the state of Colorado that doesn't even own snowmaking equipment! That in and of itself is a bold statement of how fantastic the snow quality is here.

Add to that incredible natural snowfall some steep, technical faces and beautiful scenery, and it's no wonder that Monarch Mountain makes every blogger's list of "undiscovered gems" and "the next ski resort that you need to check out in Colorado."

The high point of Monarch Mountain at the top of Mirkwood Basin soars to 11,952 feet above sea level, and it can only be reached via a 10-20 minute hike from the top of the Breezeway lift. Every line inside of Mirkwood Basin has been given a double black diamond "extreme terrain" rating. While the bowl is avy controlled and patrolled, signs still warn skiers and riders that it's best to ski with a partner and bring an avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe regardless.

While giving a few of the lines—such as Mirkwood Bowl, the title track for this album—an "extreme" rating may seem excessive, other lines in the basin require full commitment, with some no-fall zones sprinkled above massive cliff bands. Staircase, in particular, is a technical treed face with cliff bands, chutes, and tight trees maxing out at a 40° slope. East Trees boasts the steepest slope, even if it’s short, at 44°. And finally, Elation Ridge Cliffs offers the best sender cliffs on the mountain, with great in runs, drops of 30 or more feet, and wide-open landing zones.

And there's so much more to be skied! While Mirkwood may look small on a map, the more you ski it, the more fantastic lines you'll discover!

Mirkwood Bowl
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mirkwood Bowl

Salida
299 m
36 °
86 m
2.3 km
The most popular freeride line in Mirkwood Basin.
Difficult
Private
Mirkwood Trees
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mirkwood Trees

Monarch Ski Area
299 m
36 °
86 m
2.4 km
The easiest line in Mirkwood Trees, which still tends to hold excellent snow.
Difficult
Private
Staircase
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Staircase

Monarch Ski Area
299 m
40 °
86 m
2.3 km
The most technical freeride line on Monarch Mountain.
Severe
Private
East Trees
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

East Trees

Salida
299 m
44 °
85 m
2.0 km
A short, steep, techy line at the end of the ridge.
Severe
Private
Lodgeview
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Lodgeview

Monarch Mountain
299 m
27 °
85 m
2.0 km
A wide-open glade at the end of the ridge.
Moderate
Private
Lodgeview: Longer
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Lodgeview: Longer

Salida
299 m
30 °
85 m
1.8 km
A longer, tighter version of Lodgeview
Moderate
Private
Southbound
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Southbound

Monarch Ski Area
81 m
24 °
43 m
0.7 km
The only single black diamond-rated line in the Mirkwood zone.
Moderate
Private
Southbound: Longer
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Southbound: Longer

Monarch Mountain
162 m
27 °
85 m
1.1 km
A longer, more rewarding descent on this south-facing aspect.
Moderate
Private
Orcs
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Orcs

Monarch Ski Area
299 m
33 °
85 m
2.3 km
A wide-open face providing a delightful companion to the main Mirkwood Bowl.
Difficult
Private
Elation Ridge Trees
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Elation Ridge Trees

Monarch Ski Area
299 m
33 °
85 m
2.5 km
A delightful, widely-spaced glade.
Difficult
Private
Elation Ridge 1
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Elation Ridge 1

Monarch Ski Area
299 m
35 °
85 m
2.6 km
The first wide-open line on Elation Ridge.
Difficult
Private
Elation Ridge 2
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Elation Ridge 2

Monarch Ski Area
299 m
32 °
85 m
2.6 km
The second obvious line down Elation Ridge, and the beginning of the larger cliff bands.
Difficult
Private
Elation Ridge Cliffs
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Elation Ridge Cliffs

Monarch Ski Area
304 m
33 °
91 m
2.7 km
Home to the best senders at Monarch Mountain.
Difficult
Private