The Ski Mountain
Carved out of a natural bowl on Western Colorado’s Grand Mesa, Powderhorn Mountain Resort has built a name for itself with deep powder and endless tree-skiing, and offers views like no other ski area in Colorado. With vistas reaching east to the Central Rockies and west to the red rock country of the Colorado Plateau, the resort is surrounded by healthy National Forest, stunning natural beauty and not much else. If you come to Powderhorn, you come to ski. Forty-five minutes from Grand Junction, with 1600 permitted acres, the resort offers skiing at all levels, an excellent ski school and challenging off-piste adventure. It’s where generations of Western Colorado families have learned to ski and why many of them come back year after year with their families.
The Mountain Experience
Ask a local what they love about Powderhorn and they are likely to answer glades, trees and powder. Blessed with an annual average of 250 inches of light, dry powder, the resort grooms only 600 of their 1600 acres. Days after a storm, powder stashes can still be found among the aspen glades that separate the established runs. The other thing you’ll hear is that locals love the laid back vibe: no crowds, no lines, and no stress. Because Powderhorn is a ski area first and a destination second, there are not many diversions from skiing and riding. This clear-eyed focus on laying down clean lines and shredding powder has some calling Powderhorn “the soul of skiing.” Bottom line? Come here to slide, not to shop.
Powderhorn Ski Terrain
• Beginner: New skiers will find Powderhorn a fun place to learn and improve. Twenty percent of the terrain is rated easy/beginner. Green runs are found on the bunny slope, which is served by a dedicated double chairlift (EZ Rider), as well as off of the Take Four chair (just remember to get off at the midway unloading station).
Current Snow Conditions
• Intermediate: Over 50% of the groomed trails at Powderhorn are intermediate runs. Both the Take Four quad lift and the West End double lift access a wide variety of blue terrain, from ripping groomers like Tenderfoot or Red Eye, to forgiving moguls on Lower Powderkeg and Whistle Pig.
• Advanced/Expert: While 30% of the groomed terrain is considered advanced/expert, the availability of off-piste glade skiing across the resort means that experienced tree skiers are always challenged. Ungroomed mogul runs are found underneath both chairlifts, while the entire skier’s right off of the Take Four lift is advanced/expert. Check out the bumps on Showdown, and hone your tree skills on YooHoo. Over at the West End, check out Mudslide, the resort’s only double-black run.
• Terrain Park: Three terrain parks provide plenty of challenge and progression for all ages and abilities. New this season is the EZ Park is, as you might guess, easy – perfect for those just starting out (and for parents who want to check out the action and show their stease). When you’ve mastered EZ, Lower Peace Park is the next step up with everything from rollers to round-bars. Features are switched up frequently to keep things fresh. And there’s Upper Peace Park, Powderhorn’s big air and slopestyle destination. With three jump lines and boxes, rails and features for advanced riders, Upper Peace is groomed daily and quickly accessible from the Take Four midway station.
Save your socializing for the lifts. Although many upgrades have been made at the resort during the past two seasons, high-speed lifts are still in the planning stage. Ski non-stop and log maximum vert. Rest and chat on the lifts. One of the best intermediate groomers anywhere is Bill’s Run off of the Take Four chair. Perfect pitches and well-spaced rollers make any skier feel like a champion. If you’re an advanced skier, chase the sun by heading over to the West End in the morning to ski Sweet Misery and Mad Dog Glade. By afternoon, go back to the frontside and enhance your goggle tan on Wonder Bump and Racer’s Edge.
Powderhorn is remote. The nearest town is the tiny village of Mesa, so the après action is largely found on-mountain. Guests enjoy sharing stories and libations at the Sunset Grille, upstairs in the lodge. On snowy days, everyone crowds round the large central fireplace, while the action moves out to the deck when the sun is shining. The nearby SlopeSide Ski Club has been recently remodeled and upgraded, but to enjoy their scene and drink their beer, you have to be a member or a lodging guest.
Nearest Ski Town
There isn’t any. Yet…
Base area options include the SlopeSide Hotel and Ski Club, with 17 rooms and a three bedroom ski-in/ski-out condo. Other condos include the Goldenwoods Condominiums which offer one, two and three bedroom units. For something special, head to the nearby town of Palisade and stay at the Wine Country Inn. Only 30 minutes from the ski resort, Palisade is the heart of Colorado’s Wine Country. Use the Ski Lodging Deals box above and right to find Powderhorn’s best Lodging choices and deals.
Skiing With Kids
Powderhorn is all about families. Generations of Western Colorado families learned to ski and ride on the mountain and many of them come back year after year with their families. With powder fields to explore and trails that duck in and out of the trees, groomed runs of all levels and abundant moguls, Powderhorn is a dream come true for young skiers and riders. Parents feel comfortable turning their kids loose, because there is only one base area, so getting lost is difficult. The Childrens’ Learning Center has dedicated beginner terrain, a magic carpet and a bunny hill with its own double chairlift. Prices for group and private lessons are a relative bargain and class sizes are usually small. Full rentals, including clothing and helmets, are also available.
Lift Tickets and Season Pass Cost*
Lift Tickets (pre-purchase online): Adult $59; Child $30; Senior $51 (Purchase Now) Season Pass: Adult $520; Child $255 Senior $430 Midweek Passes: Monday – Friday = Adult $410; Child $210; Senior $339 *prices reflect our best effort to gather from resort published information.
by Kristen Lummis – braveskimom.com