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Old    Pound (snyder)      Join Date: Feb 2006       10-04-2010, 8:09 AM Reply   
We've been wanting to do this for a long time. We found a great deal on tix to Colorado City so we jumped on it.

However, we have never been to CO, nor have we been seriously skiiing. We once played around on the j-hook slope at a place called "Suicide Six" in Vermont... but that was about 7 yrs ago.

Anyway, anyone have any advice where to stay? What general areas to gravitate towards, or away from? (w/o breaking the bank of course).

Does all of Colorado get snow in late December? We plan to ski for a few days and hang out/do other stuff the rest of the time.
Old    Brian Ferrell (0klahoma_Breakdown)      Join Date: Mar 2010       10-04-2010, 9:48 AM Reply   
I have never been Skiing that far south in Colorado. on the map it kind of looks like no mans land but Taos just South of you in New Mexico has a great old town square for relaxing in the evenings.
IMO, first time skiing in Colorado should be at Breckenridge. Plenty of greens and lots of things to do in town....
Old    SamIngram            10-04-2010, 10:12 AM Reply   
Colorado City? Really? To me that is a no brainer, you have to go to Monarch! It will have snow. I worked there for three winters from '95-'98 as a "lifty". The snow is great and hardly anyone goes there. They are either #1 or #2 every year when it comes to snow, the only other mountain that gets more sometimes is Wolf Creek. You can stay either at Monarch in the resort or in Salida. I lived at the Palace Hotel which I would not recommend for a family stay, the New Sherman is also not recommended....
Old    Marshallk (marshk344)      Join Date: Jun 2005       10-04-2010, 10:30 AM Reply   
Closest would be Taos in New Mexico or possibly Wolf Creek in southwest CO for skiing. I haven't personally been to either one, but I know Taos has some pretty steep terrain. Wolf Creek is smaller, but is known for getting a lot of snow.

Snow in December can be hit or miss for Colorado. But just for skiing with the family, it's good enough. All of the bigger resorts west of Denver (Breck, Keystone, Vail) are great for families with a lot of things to do, but can get expensive and super crowded over the Christmas holidays. Plus I would recommend staying away from having to drive on I-70 as it's a nightmare, especially in the winter.

Crested Butte would be another option. Good mountain, and it doesn't get hit too hard by the holiday crowds.

Not too sure on places to stay. I'm just a poor college kid, so it's usually the cheapest motel.
Old    Pound (snyder)      Join Date: Feb 2006       10-04-2010, 10:39 AM Reply   
sorry, typo. i meant Colorado Springs. sorry. we won't be that far south.
Old    SamIngram            10-04-2010, 11:02 AM Reply   
IMO, Monarch is still your best bet. It's kind of a secret! It's on the direct other side of the continental divide from Crested Butte and is closer. Monarch will probably have the best snow and have the best prices.

Another GREAT advantage of Monarch is the Snow Cat Skiing. It's like heli skiing without the helicopter. You can get a full days worth of fresh untracked powder for half the price.

BTW, notice how the college kid above doesn't even mention Monarch....

Also, one of the bonuses of staying in Salida is that it will be much, much warmer than the actual ski resort. Salida is in the "Banana Belt" and is freakishly warm in the winters for CO.

This was my home for three winters...


and this was second home, across the street...


Be aware though, Monarch is a small resort compared to the others...

Old    Paul (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       10-04-2010, 12:35 PM Reply   
If you are taking your family, I would probably still go to one of the major resorts. There is just more to do. If you want to stay cheap(er) you could stay in Frisco. It is well located from a lot of the major ones(Keystone, Breck, and Vail). You can usually buy one ticket to ski the summit too.
Old    Mike R (madriding1)      Join Date: Sep 2008       10-04-2010, 12:37 PM Reply   
+2 For Monarch.. I live in the Springs and thats where I head. Its pretty much a local spot with not too many tourists.
Old    SamIngram            10-04-2010, 2:58 PM Reply   
I've gotten a couple of messages now regarding Monarch.

Monarch is a skier's resort and not a party place. It's more of a family oriented place where real skiing happens. The ski area is much, much smaller than the mega-resorts like Vail, Breckenridge, and Crested Butte, etc... This is the place where the locals go... when people from C.Springs want to go skiing they go to Monarch. I would guess that probably 85% or more of the season pass holders for Monarch are from C.Springs.

For me, the best part about Monarch can be taken from this article, "Your fellow skiers and riders are as likely to be sporting blue jeans as the latest Spyder gear, while the views from the top of the peak will leave you breathless." Monarch feels like a small town. The people are extremely friendly and everything is low key!

The motels that I mentioned above, the Palace Hotel (where I lived) and the New Sherman were both over 100 years old. They featured rooms with a shared communal bathroom and were filled with 80+ year old miners, busted cowboys, and retired ladies of the night who sat around and telling stories and playing cribbage with their social security checks. I have never learned so much as those nights sitting around a dimly lit room, filled with smoke, and the smell of stale peanuts watching a bunch octogenarians spit, curse, and fight over crumpled pile of one dollar bills like it was a million bucks. Salida, approximately 15-20 miles from Monarch Mountain is an awesome little town! I even have a 17 acre plot of land there.

My best memory of Monarch was the Snowcat and Out of Bounds skiing. As Lifty I could catch a ride either in the snowcat when it wasn't full or on a sled or tube behind the snowcat when it was. The other option was to the "backside" of the mountain (not really, but that is what we called it) with the guys from ski patrol. It was an all day deal and you had to arrange for a local lady to meet you at the creek with horses so you could get out before it was dark.

In, summary, Monarch is the hidden, small town, ski resort. When I worked the lift we had many days where I actually learned the names of everyone riding that day!
Old    Pound (snyder)      Join Date: Feb 2006       10-05-2010, 9:33 AM Reply   
nice write-up.
Old    A-dub (behindtheboat)      Join Date: Aug 2006       10-05-2010, 10:51 AM Reply   
Took an 8th grade Church trip to Monarch. That was about 15 years ago. Everything Sam has said is accurate, especially about it being small compared to most other resorts. That can help in some ways, as if you're not that experienced you won't get lost, can stick to the main runs, and stick together easier(check on the kids), or for advanced there's the snow cat option and some peaks to hit. It is a great family, small town feel, less expensive resort option.

When I went, I hit every run on the first day, and started blazing the trees. It was a 3 day trip, so the size was a disadvantage to me.
Old    SamIngram            10-05-2010, 10:54 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by behindtheboat View Post
Took an 8th grade Church trip to Monarch. That was about 15 years ago. Everything Sam has said is accurate, especially about it being small compared to most other resorts. That can help in some ways, as if you're not that experienced you won't get lost, can stick to the main runs, and stick together easier(check on the kids), or for advanced there's the snow cat option and some peaks to hit. It is a great family, small town feel, less expensive resort option.

When I went, I hit every run on the first day, and started blazing the trees. It was a 3 day trip, so the size was a disadvantage to me.
When I worked there I ate at the Younglife tent for lunch every day. It was a new group every day and no one asked me questions, they all thought I belonged....
Old    Brian Ferrell (0klahoma_Breakdown)      Join Date: Mar 2010       10-05-2010, 11:30 AM Reply   
Sounds like a neat town and a great write up Sam. The sno cat drop ins would be a lot of fun as well.
Old    Pound (snyder)      Join Date: Feb 2006       10-05-2010, 2:21 PM Reply   
Looks like my wife found the place she wants to stay in Fairplay (a little NW of there i think). Looks like it could be a good deal. not too far from Breck. But not too close either.

Now i need to see how the hell to rent a 4x4 because the place we're getting is at 11,000ft according to the owner. 4x4 required in December.
Old    SamIngram            10-05-2010, 2:50 PM Reply   
Wow, talk about "out of the way" places to stay... Fairplay, CO is absolutely dead! It was so dead the town had to borrow money from Breck to build a skate park so that the local kids would stop hitchhiking for something to do... literally...
Old    Chris (crosenhahn)      Join Date: Feb 2008       10-05-2010, 3:02 PM Reply   
Yeah Fairplay is out there... i would look at staying in Salida and hitting up Monarch...Skied there for about 10yrs straight growing up (I live in Colorado Springs). Monarch is a great family place especially if you and the fam are not great skiers...the kids can go off by themselves and not get lost on 4 different mountains...ie Breck. But if I was planning a vacation to Colorado I would stay at/near Winter Park - Great Family atmosphere, beautiful in the winter, a lot more off-piste (mountain) things to do after the lift close. You should be able to find some good deals up there as well. Not as crowded as Breck, Keystone or Vail and a bit cheaper. GL and if you have any specific questions pm me... I ski anywhere from 40-60 days a year and have skied almost every resort in CO.
Old    SamIngram            10-05-2010, 3:11 PM Reply   
Chris,
Do you know what the name of the small ski spot is between Salida and Springs is? I say spot because I think they only had one lift. It may have gone out of business now. I think it begins with an A or E. When I worked at Monarch I had to join the Colorado Tramway Board and inspected the lift there. I have been trying to remember the name for years, but can't and can't seem to find it on the map.
Old    Pound (snyder)      Join Date: Feb 2006       10-05-2010, 3:26 PM Reply   
ha ha.
Fairplay sounds PERFECT!

According to the ad for the rental, they're only 19 miles from Breckenridge.
Old    Chris (crosenhahn)      Join Date: Feb 2008       10-06-2010, 7:47 AM Reply   
Sam,

I know what you are talking about but I never knew what it was called.
Old    Paul (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       10-06-2010, 8:28 AM Reply   
Keep in mind that 19 miles is through a difficult pass with lots of hairpin turns. It took us 45 minutes to get from breck to fairplay(passing through) in the summer with no traffic. Now imagine snow packed roads and cars. If you get a good storm, you may not make it out of fairplay. I would seriously not stay there.
Old    Paul (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       10-06-2010, 8:30 AM Reply   
Do you have a link to that rental? A friend of mine has a mountain house by fairplay(the reason I was passing through) that he sometimes rents.
Old    Pound (snyder)      Join Date: Feb 2006       10-07-2010, 7:27 AM Reply   
http://www.vrbo.com/200748
Old    Paul (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       10-07-2010, 7:38 AM Reply   
Not it. It appears to be north of fairplay. Might not take quite as long.
Old     (Thrall)      Join Date: Oct 2010       10-09-2010, 7:51 AM Reply   
Fairplay is a quaint little town, NOT the tourist scene at all. Drive is not bad to Breck as long as you don't mind snow and 1000' drop offs on the shoulder. HWY 9 is maintained well though.
Old    Clubmyke (clubmyke)      Join Date: Aug 2004       10-28-2010, 7:56 PM Reply   
I really dug on wolf creek and durango. The daily powder at Wolf Creek was amazing - simply amazing. Not to mention reasonably priced and family owned/operated. Durango was a little more upscale and incredible groomed runs.
Old    Scott (scotthons)      Join Date: Mar 2010       10-29-2010, 9:53 AM Reply   
Durango opened some new terrain last year. More of backwood tree runs. I believe they had plans to open some additional terrain this year.
Old    SamIngram            12-20-2011, 1:32 PM Reply   
So did anyone go to Monarch because of this thread? I'm going next month!

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