A combination of persistent cold temps and better-than-expected early snowfall has prompted Eldora Mountain and Monarch Mountain to crank up the lifts several weeks before their announced opening date.
On Nov. 1, Front Range favorite Eldora and southwest powder stash Monarch greet the 2019-2020 season. Both mountains had planned to open in the last week of November.
At Monarch, the initial plan is to open weekends (Friday-Sunday) for the foreseeable future. Adult tickets will be $57 to begin with. Located about 20 miles from Salida, the day resort plans to open two beginner lifts and one to the top (Pioneer Chair). The lifts will serve beginner and intermediate runs to start off the season.
Despite Monarch's southerly location, the weather can be surprisingly wintry. So new at the mountain will be a shop at the base that specializes in renting winter clothing and selling cold-weather accessories for those who arrive under-dressed. On the mountain, a recent project to thin out dead and down trees has opened up more glade skiing and riding areas.
At Eldora, several lifts run for the early season, and open runs will be determined on a day-to-day basis. Also, mountain managers have addressed congestion and parking issues with new buses in the lots to bring commuters out of the lot and onto the hill. Officials say they will soon have a ride-share app to facilitate carpooling from the metro area below.
This season, the Ikon Pass resort unveils a six-pack high-speed chair, Alpenglow, that replaces the Cannonball and Challenger fixed-grip chairs to run from base to top of Challenger Mountain. The Woodward Mountain Park now has a new “terrain-shaping” snowcat that should keep the park features fresh throughout the season.