Powderhorn Mountain Resort lies on the north side of Grand Mesa, reputedly the world’s largest flat-topped mountain, in western Colorado. The resort, 35 miles east of Grand Junction, lets you ski all morning and then taste Palisade wines in the afternoon. The area receives an average of 250 inches of snow annually. Powderhorn is known for its dramatic views across desert mesas and canyons as well as its dry powdery snow.
- Powderhorn Mountain is an off-the-beaten track ski area with lots of parking next to the lifts, quick lift lines, and few skiers. Quad 4, the main chair lift on the right side of the base, accesses groomed beginner slopes to mogul glades. EZ Rider beginner area is served by a double chair lift that allows novices to learn new skills. The West End lift reaches mostly uncrowded terrain with glade runs and open slopes.
- Powderhorn offers good, affordable lodging at the mountain base and tasty food and drink at the Sunset Bar & Grill. Locals, however, recommend staying in Palisade at the Wine Country Inn or in a Grand Junction hotel. This lets skiers sample both worlds—Colorado ski country and the red rock country of the Colorado Plateau. Get some great snowboarding and skiing in one day and go hiking at Colorado National Monument or wine tasting in Colorado’s wine country the next day. Palisade not only has wines but also a peach distillery, the Palisade Brewery, and the Meadery of the Rockies.
- Grand Mesa, the big flat mountain above Powderhorn, offers some of western Colorado’s best cross-country ski trails. The Grand Mesa Nordic Coalition maintains 54 kilometers or 32 miles of XC trails at three different trail systems—Skyway, County Line, and Ward. Most of the trails are groomed for both classic and skate skiing, and warming huts are near the trailheads. The mesa top also has lots of shoeshoeing terrain as well as a designated two-kilometer trail at Skyway.
Recommended season(s): Year-round.
—Stewart M. Green