EAT
Even Monarch’s food scene is unpretentious. Bring a cooler and crockpot to enjoy a picnic on the deck or in the lower lodge. Pick up delicious pizza and sandwiches from the Gunbarrel Cafeteria or sit down at Sidewinder Saloon for local brews, renowned nachos and daily specials in a warm atmosphere. Java Stop feeds your caffeine habit while Elmo’s, a full-service bar, makes any drink under the sun. Two can’t-miss favorites in Salida: Little Red Hen Bakery, pumping out divine fresh bread, cinnamon rolls and scones (littleredhensalida.com), and The Fritz (thefritzsalida.com), serving an eclectic array of delectable small plates, sandwiches and specials for lunch and dinner.  

SLEEP
Just 20 miles away, Salida makes a lively basecamp for exploration. The Amigo Motor Lodge ($100+/night), a boutique motel with modern furnishings and stylized design makes the perfect retreat for couples seeking a friendly, casual vacation; 10% discount with lift ticket. Salida’s Super 8 offers a Ski Breakaway Package starting at $169.88 pp; includes three nights for four people, two lift tickets each, daily breakfast and hot springs passes.  Present a lift ticket or ski pass at Mount Princeton Hot Springs ($158+/night) to receive a 20% discount.

PLAY
Trade the I-70 slam for a stunning stress-free drive that delivers you to Monarch Mountain where you enjoy views from the Divide while exploring 800+ acres of diverse terrain covered in copious amounts of fluffy 100 % all-natural powder. This unspoiled family-oriented resort has it all: an intimate feel, friendly staff, beginner slopes, advanced hike-to zones, affordability and an esteemed learn-to-ski program. Monarch’s been redefining the resort experience for decades, but this year they’ve added a few new reasons to love it – as if its idyllic location, loads of snow, laid-back vibe and non-existent lift lines weren’t enough.

Uphill Travel During Operating Hours – Earn your views or hone backcountry skills via three routes dedicated to upward travel; skiers and snowshoers willing to climb can reach the top of Mirkwood, Panorama lift and Gunbarrel. Salida Mountain Sports rents snowshoes, AT and tele gear. salidamountainsports.com

College Student PassNew $269 discounted season pass; $10 goes to Big City Mountaineers, a nonprofit taking urban youth on wilderness expeditions.

Cat Skiing Yurt If you cruise the cat-accessible bowls and chutes, now you’ll be able to warm up and enjoy breaks in this sweet shelter designed by world-renowned Colorado Yurt Co. skimonarch.com