Monarch Mountain is located within the Sawatch Range, which is a subset of Colorado’s Central Rocky Mountains. The name Sawatch or Saguache (as in the town located in the northern San Luis Valley) is derived from a Ute Indian word “saguguachipa” meaning “blue-earth.”
The Sawatch is home to the largest concentration of 14,000-foot peaks in the continental U.S. The range contains fifteen peaks topping 14,000′. These peaks are commonly called “14ers”. A few of these can be seen from Monarch (Mt. Shavano & Tabeguache). Many others can be seen from the Upper Arkansas Valley along Highway 285 between Poncha Springs and Buena Vista. If you take Highway 24 all the way up the valley to Leadville, you can catch almost all of them including the highest peak in all of the Rocky Mountains (Mt. Elbert 14,440′).
The range forms a portion of the Continental Divide. The eastern side of the range drains into the headwaters of the Arkansas River. The western side feeds the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River, the Eagle River, and the Gunnison River. All of the western tributaries eventually drain into the Colorado River.
Pretty great to spend our days skiing and riding on the spine of North America.
View of the Sawatch from Mirkwood (Left to Right-Baldy, Clover, Banana, Aetna, Taylor, Tabeguache, Shavano)