We ski at Monarch at least once a season. Its perfect for family ski getaways, and Im not just saying that I swear. We love skiing at Monarch because its affordable, easy to get to, easy to get around the mountain, they have a nice variety of terrain, good infrastructure, its easy to get around the town, and their mascot is the butterfly, and how can you not like butterflies?
The drive there is effortless and hassle free. There is little to no traffic as you cruise along 285 which takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the state.
Salida, which is the town that you stay in when you ski Monarch, is cute, quirky, safe, manageable and has everything you could need for a family ski weekend. When we were there the town was still decorated for the holidays.
They've got ample hotels from Holiday Inns to Hampton Inns (were fans of Hampton Inn because of the excellent complimentary breakfast and the kids love the pool, and they didn't balk at the amount of luggage we showed up with, for one night mind you.) Plus there is free parking, a free gym room, and free wi-fi, all things you know I look for in a hotel.
We kicked off our weekend with dinner at Amicas. Talk about your family friendly restaurants, I dont think they let you in there without a child dangling from some part of your body. And they brew their own beer, which is always a good sign.
When we got to Monarch the next morning, after parking for free right at the base (another family friendly reason), the first thing we noticed was the brand spankin shiny new base lodge addition. They added 16,000 square feet of space, redid the restaurants and cafeteria, added some food services, added tons of seating, created a special place for SnowCat Tours to meet (hope to experience that in person one of these days) and an elevator. Its a really big deal for resort guests and has gotten rave reviews from visitors. Families have loads of room to hang out, eat their packed lunches or purchase meals there, its just very civilized.
Now, the skiing. My kids have one thing on their mind when we go to Monarch, and thats finding Mr. Skittles and skiing Pinball (ok, maybe thats two things but they go together). Mr. Skittles is our friend who works at the resort and he takes us to Pinball, a hidden little trail that isn't even a real trail. Its not on the map and I couldn't find it if I tried, only Mr. Skittles can. Hes like the Candy Man to my kids, they follow him everywhere on that mountain.
When it was time to drive back home, we didn't leave Monarch until we had stocked up on apres drinks. I got the usual, chai tea with soy, and the kids got the usual, anything with exorbitant amounts of whipped cream.