Monarch Mountain is an absolute GEM!! I lived in Aspen for almost 5 years and had a 4 mountain pass with some stellar POW days to be sure but I just "discovered" Monarch and the snow is some of the best POW I have ever ridden! Although not the most convenient of mountains, it is well worth the 3 hour drive from Co Springs or Denver even with weather. My most recent POW day there was spent making fresh tracks ALL day in 15" to 18". A true spritual experience as there are no crowds and there is powder to be found all season long.
As you'll also discover, the entire staff from top to bottom is extremely friendly and helpful. This mountain is Pure Sport with no frills. If your looking for shopping and ski posers that just want to look stylish on the slopes, this aint your place but if you are a true rider and want the best skiing around, come check out Monarch. It's truly refreshing in the era of the megaresorts for the megarich that don't even think about the average joe. Monarch has the best value in Colorado hands down. Discount tickets for the '07/'08 season are less than half the price of your Vail or Aspen with none of the hassle. It reminds me of Aspen Highlands back in the early 90's before Skico bought and ruined it when you parked at the bottom and walked a couple minutes to the lifts. Now you can't even see the bottom through all the multi million dollar condos.
I'd love to see Monarch grow a bit and put in a high speed quad to the top of Mirkwood Bowl but then again, maybe not as only the most adventurous make the effort which is the way it should be. I definately don't want Monarch to get bought by one of these developers and ruin the pure ski experience.
The only drawback is the drive. My recomendation from Co Springs is to go Hwy24 to Hwy285 and not go 115 to Hwy50. Not nearly as treachereous and traffic does not back up nearly as much. Hwy50 gets pretty gnarly in the best of conditions through the canyons. Getting down from Monarch Pass can get pretty dicey during weather but take a 4x4. I've seen 2wheel drive vehicles have a very bad time getting up and back down. I wouldn't even consider anything but a 4x4 for the trip.
Do your self a favor, make the trip up and experience skiing as it was 20 years ago the way it was meant to be. You will never look at the sport the same way again.