Although Powderhorn Mountain Resort celebrates its 46th anniversary this season, many Colorado skiers have never heard of it, let alone skied the mountain. The westernmost resort in Colorado, getting to Powderhorn from Denver requires driving I-70 through Summit County, zipping right by Vail and giving Aspen a pass. So why would Front Range families make the effort to visit Powderhorn?
No crowds, no lift lines, an excellent, affordable ski and ride school, and some of the best glades and powder skiing in the state.
Generations of western slope families learned to ski at Powderhorn and return year after year. With just one base, families feel comfortable letting their kids roam free, knowing that they can’t get lost. The resort has five lifts, three terrain parks and a tow-served tubing hill.
Owners Andy Daly and Ken, Tom and John Gart purchased the resort in October 2011 and immediately invested over $800,000 in upgrades. This year, the improvements continue with the development of new trails, glading and an expansion of the tubing hill.
Best of all, they’ve injected a contagious energy into the resort. Powderhorn Mountain Resort has always had a casual, friendly, soulful attitude, but with new owners and new energy, there is a palpable sense of optimism. Powderhorn’s best days are ahead.
The resort is located on the northern slope of the Grand Mesa, an enormous flat-topped, alpine plateau with healthy forests abundant with pine, fir and aspen. With 1600 vertical feet, 600 acres of groomed trail, endless opportunities for tree skiing, and an average snowfall of over 250 inches, there is no shortage of powder at Powderhorn. In fact this season, the resort has had some of the best and most consistent conditions in the state.
Alpine, Telemark, Cross-Country, Tubing and Snowshoe
Prices for group and private lessons are a relative bargain compared to larger resorts and class sizes are usually small. Family private lessons for up to five people are available and the Childrens’ Learning Center offers classes for kids between the ages of 3 and 7. Full rentals, including helmets and clothing, are available.
The tubing hill is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, as well as holidays from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m. Each two hour session is limited to 35 people. You’ll need reservations! In addition, special events including town races, the annual Telefest, rail jams and more are held on most weekends. A calendar of upcoming events is available.
Finally, if you’re into cross-country skiing, take a day, or just a few hours, to drive to the top of the Grand Mesa and experience some of the best-groomed cross-country trails in the state. The Grand Mesa Nordic Council maintains trail at three locations, the closest to Powderhorn being Skyway. Powderhorn Mountain Resort rents cross-country gear and can point you in the right direction. Snowshoes are also available from the rental shop, but are not allowed on most of the Mesa’s groomed cross-country track. Ask for directions and the inside scoop on finding good trail if you’re a snowshoer.
When You Go…
Powderhorn Mountain Resort is about 230 miles west of Denver off of I-70. It is about 50 minutes east of Grand Junction, Colorado.
The ski-in/ski-out Slopeside Ski Club at the base of the mountain is the most convenient option with a two-bedroom condo (sleeps up to 10) and various suites. New management this season has upgraded this property significantly. Located adjacent to the Slopeside are the Goldenwoods Condominiums with 1, 2 or 3 bedroom units. If you hope to cook for yourself, plan ahead and bring food. There is no grocery store near Powderhorn.
The most luxurious, lodging option is the Wine Country Inn in nearby Palisade. Tucked in amongst the vineyards, the Wine Country Inn is about 30 miles from Powderhorn. If you book a Ski and Stay package, the rate includes lift tickets and a shuttle to and from the resort. An afternoon wine reception and continental breakfast are also included. Kids and families are most definitely welcome.
Powderhorn has two restaurants: the Sunset Grille and Bar in the lodge and the Take Four Quad Grille. The Take Four Quad Grille is an outdoor BBQ open on weekends only. The cafeteria-style Sunset Grille is open 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily. The downstairs level of the lodge has seating and microwaves, and brown-baggers are welcome.
Nine miles away in the tiny town of Mesa is Blink Coffee with handmade pastries, delicious sandwiches, breakfast burritos and coffee that will make you forget about looking for a Starbuck’s (don’t bother, the nearest Starbucks is 40 minutes away).
If you’re staying in Palisade, Inaris Bistro has an eclectic Asian Fusion/locovore menu that changes seasonally. It may sound fancy, but Inaris welcomes families and won’t break the bank.
Portions of this post originally published at Mile High Mamas on March 3, 2012 and at MTN Town Magazine Fall 2012.
- Celebrating the “Free Heel Life” at Powderhorn Resort, February 2, 2011.
- Colorado’s Gems: Bigger Isn’t Always Better, January 25, 2011.
- The “Pow!” Is Back At Powderhorn Mountain Resort, Colorado, December 21, 2011.
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