There’s no question Colorado is one of the top destinations in the country for skiing. With more than two dozen ski resorts, averaging 300 inches of annual snowfall and 300 days of sunshine, it’s no wonder that nearly 16 million skiers visit the state every year.
From almost anywhere in Colorado’s high country, you aren’t far from at least a few ski resorts and some of the best ski terrain in the country. Even in central Colorado, in the heart of the Rockies, the small town of Salida offers several options for ski day trips.
Here’s our list of ski areas near Salida, CO, all under a two-hour drive, in order of proximity:
Monarch Mountain – 21 miles / 30 minutes
For your most authentic ski experience, ski independently at Monarch Mountain. You won’t find Monarch on any of the typical season ski passes, as they fly solo, which makes for a devoted ski community and shorter lift lines.
While much smaller than most of the ski resorts in Colorado, the Monarch Mountain ski area packs in the thrills with high elevations, abundant snowfall, stunning scenery along the Continental Divide, and skilled terrain.
In operation since 1939, the mountain originally ran as a ski area with what was known as the Gunbarrel run. Skiers were towed up the mountain via a 500-foot rope that was motorized by a gearbox from an old oil derrick and a Chevy engine. Once at the top, it was nothing but a straight shot down.
Since its Gunbarrel days, Monarch Mountain has matured and now is a popular ski area with multiple chair lifts, terrain parks, designated runs, and a low-key atmosphere for those who are looking to escape the tourist crowds of the other ski resorts.
Monarch is proud to offer an affordable and accessible mountain experience where you can park your car, for free, and walk right to the lifts. And because of its location high along the Continental Divide, the ski area sees a whopping 350+ inches of snow a year and does not need to make its own snow.
While Monarch Mountain is best known for its fresh powder and short lift lines, its back bowls and expert terrain are also something to get excited about. For the elevated Monarch experience, try Monarch Cat skiing. With 1,635 acres of guided backcountry, steep chutes, wide-open bowls, and nearly untouched tree skiing, trust us, you’ll get your money’s worth!
Monarch Mountain offers 800 acres of skiable area, two terrain parks, bowl skiing, 66 trails, seven chair lifts, and runs for all skill levels with half the runs for beginners and intermediate. The ski area rests at a base elevation of 10,790 feet (3,289 meters), and its summit elevation touches 11,952 feet (3,643 meters).
Ski Cooper – 69 miles / 1 hour 20 minutes
For another authentic ski experience, hit the slopes at Ski Cooper. Known for its family-friendly atmosphere, affordable prices, fluffy snow, and unique grooming techniques that ensure the softest snow surface possible, Ski Cooper is perfect for a family ski vacation. With ample snowfall every year and a base elevation resting at 10,500 feet, skiing conditions at Ski Cooper couldn’t be better.
And while Ski Cooper certainly caters to the beginner skier, it hasn’t forgotten about those who know a thing or two about skiing. For the expert skiers, sign up for the snowcat skiing tours on Chicago Ridge. Enjoy long, enormous chutes across 2,600 acres of wide-open bowls. The Tennessee Creek Basin also offers a variety of steep double blacks, with a few greens and blue runs available as bail-out options.
Ski Cooper features 480 acres of skiable area, one terrain park, 64 trails, five chair lifts, and runs for all skill levels. The ski area rests at a base elevation of 10,500 feet (3,200 meters) with its summit elevation reaching 11,700 feet (3,566 meters), and a vertical drop of 1,200 feet. The annual average snowfall is 260 inches.
Skiing nearby in Summit County
If you’re willing to make the one-and-a-half-hour drive from Salida, the ski resorts of Summit County including Keystone, Breckenridge, and Cooper Mountain are all within 30 minutes of one another, with Breck and Copper being the closest to Salida, just over 1.5 hours.
Skiing in Summit County offers a variety of experiences, for both the novice and expert skier. From the family-friendly atmosphere at Keystone to the highest ski resort in North America at Breckenridge, there is something for everyone!
Another real potential ski area from Salida is Wolf Creek. At only two hours in the southwest direction, you’ll be further escaping the crowds and reducing the amount you’ll pay for a lift ticket compared to Summit Co. Plus the terrain is diverse and they get the most snow.