Monarch Hopes To Double Its Acreage On Other Side Of The Divide
Independently owned Monarch Mountain has submitted plans to the U.S. Forest Service that would expand the southern Colorado mountain's onto the western slope of the Continental Divide.
The addition of 377 acres in the No Name Creek basin would include a new chairlift -- undetermined yet as to what type -- and some 67 acres of trails and glades. It would be the first enlargement of Monarch's lift-accessed acres since the fixed-grip quad Pioneer opened up Curecanti Bowl to non-hikers in 1999. One of the oldest ski mountains in Colorado, Monarch put up its first lift, a rope tow, in 1939.
Proposal maps show the new lift dropping skiers and riders off on the 11,700-foot-high Continental Divide, near the top of the Breezeway chairlift on Monarch's northern front flank. From there, they can drop down 960 vertical feet in the No Name bowl area on a half-dozen cleared trails and four thinned glades. Access will also be possible from the mid-mountain Panorama chair farther down the divide. Trail ratings will be intermediate to advanced.
This area has been a popular backcountry area for snowcat tours off the top of Monarch. It's one of several 'cat routes that extend northward along the divide and hit up Milkwood Basin and the cirques around Bald Mountain.
Mountain officials said the new terrain is a response to skiers and riders seeking more advanced trails beyond the ones on the 670 acres and 1,162-vertical drop of the front side. The mountain attracts local from the town of Salida, day-trippers southern Colorado, and vacationers from Kansas and Texas.
The proposal must get approval from two national forests, as the expansion affects operations on either side of the divide. Final environmental assessments are estimated to be completed by April 2024.