West of Salida and east of Gunnison, the Monarch ski area has 53 runs spread over 800 acres that are served by 5 lifts with a maximum vertical descent of 1,162 feet. While shredding it up at Monarch, try the Panorama lift for nice glade runs. In addition to the lift-served ski area, the Mirkwood Basin offers an additional 130 acres of open snowboarding with a vertical descent of 1,100 feet. But, you've got to work for it -- from the top of the Breezeway lift, there's a 15 minute hike up the cat-track. It's worth it in order to rip it up down steep, expert-only chutes, glades and rock cliffs. And, if Mirkwood Basin isn't enough for you, try Monarch Cat Skiing that provides access to another 1,000 acres of expert terrain. A typical day with the Monarch snowcat offers 10-12 runs with 900 feet of vertical descent. An advanced reservation is required by calling Monarch Cat Skiing at (719) 530-5105.
For apres ski, try the slopeside Sidewinder Bar. For nightlife in Salida, check out Victoria Tavern (aka the Vic) or Bensons Tavern.
Looking for more adventure? Check out Monarch Snowcat Tours (888) 996-7669.
To reach the snowboarding at Monarch Mountain from Salida, head west on US50 for about 45 minutes. The Monarch ski area is on the right before Monarch Pass.
Overall, Monarch Ski Resort is the 5th most popular snowboard & freeride destination of all 28 snowboarding resorts in Colorado.