Monarch Vital Stats

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Travel

Phone 888-996-7669 (snow report, 800-228-7943) or www.skimonarch.com

Lift Ticket Prices Adults, $36 ; children, $16; kids under 6 and seniors over 70 ski free.

Skiable Terrain 670 acres, 54 trails

Number of Lifts One fixed-grip quad, four double chairs

Annual Snowfall 350 inches

Base Elevation 10,790 feet

Summit Elevation 11,961 feet

When To Go You'll find great skiing in the spring, plus the chance to combine summer activities in Salida. But beware spring break (typically the middle of March), when the mountain is teeming with teens.

Length of Season Mid-November through mid-April

Getting There From Denver (157 miles) take 285 South to Hwy. 50 West. From Gunnison (45 miles) take Hwy 50 East.

Lodging In town, try the Gazebo Country Inn, starting at $80, breakfast included (800-565-7806). Closer to the mountain (3 1/2 miles) is the Monarch Lodge, where rates start at $49 (ask about the Ski and Stay Package for $29 per person; 719-539-2581). On Hwy. 50, rooms at the Super 8 range from $44-$64 (719-539-6689).

Eats For a twist on history, try Il Vacino, the renovated mortuary-turned-chic-pizzeria. If you crave Mexican food and great margaritas, visit La Frontera. Named after an old Salida brothel, Laughing Ladies Restaurant offers fine dining with a healthy flair.

Drinks For après-ski, go straight from the slopes to the Sidewinder Bar, located in the ski area lodge. In Salida, the historic Victoria Tavern, or "Old Vic," has live bands on weekends (skiers get in free with a Monarch lift ticket).

Local's Tip Cat ski with Monarch Snowcat Tours (888-996-7669; www.skimonarch.com), then warm up in the natural hot spring pools at Valley View, outside nearby Villa Grove (719-256-4315).