[Editor's note: The Gems & Brews Tour was a 2-week ski pilgrimage in Feb. 2013 devoted to sampling some of the best small mountain resorts, fine craft beers, spirits and food across Colorado. The tour was a collaboration between Colorado Ski Country USA and Exploring Elements, with the idea to give a small taste of what you can expect when exploring these spectacular Colorado Gems. Be sure to check out the full Gems & Brews Tour Monarch report with great images from Exploring Elements here.]
By Bryon Dorr (http://www.ExploringElements.com)
Monarch caters to the passionate outdoor adventurer who wants an authentic Colorado mountain experience. Situated high in the mountains above the Arkansas Valley and along the Continental Divide, Monarch is known for its steep world class terrain and amazing snow. The resort operates on 100% natural snowfall, and Mother Nature has been kind to this amazing gem since 1939. Whether you want long sweeping cusiers, fast fun groomers, natural freestyle terrain, or super steep fresh turns in the woods, Monarch has you covered.
If the inbounds terrain just isn’t enough, Monarch also offers amazing backcountry value with their Cat Ski Operation. The great values don’t stop with the Cat Skiing, as Monarch offers up one of the least expensive day passes in the state and the One Planet One Pass season pass that is an out of this world value. While you’re at the mountain, be sure to keep up your energy level with some caffeine from the world’s highest Starbucks and hang out with the locals over a cold Colorado micro brew at the Sidewinder Bar.
Monarch Apres Ski Hot Spots:
Elevation Beer Co (http://www.elevationbeerco.com/)
Wood’s High Mountain Distillery (http://www.woodsdistillery.com/)
Amicas Pizza & Microbrewery (http://www.amicassalida.com/)
The Fritz (http://thefritzdowntown.com/)
Eddyline Brewing (http://eddylinebrewing.com/brewery/)
Deerhammer Distilling Company (http://www.deerhammer.com/index.php)
Best Of Gems & Brews Tour 2013 Awards:
Best Inbounds Hiking: Mirkwood area at Monarch takes a little hiking effort, but is worth every step! Check out the goods in Staircase.
Best Cat Skiing: Monarch offers an amazing Cat Skiing operation that provides access to a 1,000+ acres of quality varied expert terrain. It’s hard to beat 10,000+ vertical feet of fresh turns in a day!
Most Annual Avg Snowfall: Monarch and Arapahoe Basin both average 350” of fresh Colorado snow each season.
Best Season Pass Value: Monarch offers the “One Planet One Pass” season pass program, which covers 2 continents, 5 countries, and 9 states for a total of 31 different areas. A smoking value!
Best Kolsch- Elevation Beer Co 8 Second Kolsch
Best Spicy Beer- Eddyline Brewing Innerglow Red Chile Porter
Best Whiskey- Deerhammer Distilling Company (http://www.deerhammer.com/index.php) Whitewater Whiskey
Best Gin- Wood’s High Mountain Distillery (http://www.woodsdistillery.com/) Treeline Gin
Best Tapas- The Fritz (http://thefritzdowntown.com/)