Via Highway 50
Cañon City MUGS
This coffee shop and sports bar and grill is a must-stop on your way to Monarch. Mugs roasts its coffee in-house for a strong, smooth cup of joe to keep you alert through the curves of Highway 50’s Bighorn Sheep Canyon. Try the Husky Hug for a caramel eye-opener or get a strawberry-banana smoothie for a fresh and filling breakfast. The morning menu ranges from “just eggs” ($5.95) to chicken fried steak and eggs ($12.55). You can dine in or grab your breakfast to go.
If you roll through on your way home, there’s a weekday happy hour from 3-6 p.m. You can snag a Coors for $2 or a glass of wine for $4, plus half-price quesadillas, wings, shrimp and more. And the servers are always friendly.
1520 Royal Gorge Blvd., Cañon City
Little Red Hen Bakery, Salida
If you’re a fan of fresh, wholesome breads and baked goods, then the Little Red Hen is your spot. From plain bagels to Jamberry bars to regular breads, such as rosemary olive oil, and specialty breads, including chili cheddar , this independent Salida bakery crafts each doughy dish from scratch. Choose from the fresh-baked “morning treats” menu for quick but hearty daily muffins, scones or pecan-raisin cinnamon rolls. The bakery also offers grab-and-go lunch sandwiches, meat or vegan, that offer a great source of energy anywhere along the road or slopes. You’ll find gluten-free options as well.
302 G Street, Salida
Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub, Salida
I would keep this place with all its pizza and $4 MoonLite cream ale to myself, but the secret is already out. Salida offers so many good breweries, cantinas and other restaurants just 20 minutes from Monarch Mountain, but Moonlight is always my top choice for an apres meal.
The pizza dough is always soft on the inside with flavors of garlic and other Italian spices. Described as “clever” pizzas, each gets an entertaining description in a menu worth reading. The Caveman’s load of meat toppings is more than generous, and as the menu claims. “This pie has turned local yoga instructors into snarling savages (in capri pants).”
The cream ale is wonderfully light and, well, creamy. If you want something a little stronger, choose the High Side! IPA for a citrusy bite. Show your Monarch season pass for a free drink with your pizza. Situated downtown, right off F Street, you have easy access to walk off the carbs after dinner or head across the street to Fun Street Arcade.
242 F. Street, Salida
Via Highway 24
Simple Eatery, Buena Vista
You can find a wide variety of fresh, causal options for lunch, dinner and drinks. For starters, you can keep it simple with fresh baked artisan breads or chips and salsa. On the lighter side, consider carrot coconut soup or a spinach and berry salad. And for a full meal, try an elk burger or bison ravioli. Wash it all down with a Colorado lineup of craft sodas, beers and wines. You can get a sweet tooth fix from self-serve frozen yogurt and 35 toppings. And if you’re in the market for some trail gear, the restaurant shares space with The Trailhead, BV’s local outdoor shop.
402 E. Main St., Buena Vista
Eddyline Brewery, Buena Vista
After your day on the hill, take a quick detour to the Eddyline Taproom located just off Highway 24 near the center of B.V. This is your stop for wood-fired pizza and craft beer, or a snack like tacos or fried pickle chips. If you want to take your time, head to Eddyline’s riverside restaurant in South Main , BV’s urbanist mixed-use neighborhood. You can still get pizza, but you’ll also find crab cakes, bison ribs and more. Show your Monarch season pass for a discount at either Eddyline location.
Taproom: 102 Linderman Ave., Buena Vista
Restaurant: 926 S. Main
Paradox Beer Company, Divide
By the time you reach Divide, most of your return drive from Monarch is behind you, but Paradox Beer Company is still worth a stop, especially if you’re a fan of creative sour beers. Try the MF Gose series with various fruity flavors or the new Hoptagram, a hoppy unfiltered lager brewed with Citra and Cashmere hops.
Sit outside by the fire with a panoramic view of Pikes Peak or play cornhole with friends you’ll likely make there. Choose from the flatbread pizzas or specials from HotShoe BBQ, served Thursdays through Sundays by partner Chef Brandon Stith. Try a Smoked Texas Twinkie, a stuffed jalapeño, wrapped in brisket, drizzled with caramel bacon jam and served on a bed of cheesy grits.
10 Buffalo Court, Divide