The Grand Mesa in western Colorado is the world’s largest flat-topped mountain. Six-thousand feet higher than surrounding terrain. In places, it ascends to 11,000’. You drive through high desert, ranchland, tiny villages. Then you climb to the heights of Powderhorn Mountain Resort. 

Powderhorn on Colorado’s Grand Mesa

Many of you have expressed interest in lesser-known ski areas. To those not in the neighborhood, Powderhorn qualifies as “lesser-known,” and it deserves your attention.

Powderhorn’s three chairs provide access to 1600 acres of trails and trees. The day I skied there, snow quality was outstanding, but snow depth prevented extensive exploration. At one point this winter, it should reach its average 250”.

At 1650’, the vertical is adequate. Unlike some other areas with more vert, Powderhorn’s trials offer a nice continuous pitch. Mountain stats claim 50% blue/30% black. The blacks I skied were more blue. Nonetheless, everything I was on provided an interesting skiing experience. Some mountains have that advantage over other more developed places: they’re interesting. Maybe it’s the fall line; maybe the layout. Whatever it is, Powderhorn has it. And on that particular day, through ever-changing clouds, Powderhorn offered up spectacular panoramas of distant desert landscapes.

The base lodge looks more ‘70s suburban bank building than ski lodge, but once inside, there’s a remarkably friendly and old-fashioned vibe. Not a lot of people around that Tuesday, but it seemed like everyone there came up to greet us and ask where we were from.

Instead of on-mountain lodges, Powderhorn opens its patrol shelters to the public. In addition to a few things to nibble and drink, they, too, have an uncommon feeling of gemütlichkeit. I felt like I was time warping into a kinder, gentler, less-commercial ski era.

Every Thursday, the 50+ “Young At Heart” program meets for guided skiing, lunch, and après ski. Regardless of when you visit, for those 75+, lift tickets are $38, season passes $179. The season pass includes benefits at 25 other areas. The under 75 rates  also are attractive.

Slopeside lodging is limited. We chose to stay in Palisade, a scenic 28-mile ride. Palisade, adjacent to I-70, is known for wineries and peaches, and Wine Country Inn. For several years we’ve been driving by this attractive hostelry. This time we gave it a try. Our room was modern, spacious, and well appointed. What came as a surprise was the delicious food! We dined in both restaurant and bar. Breakfast, included, was a scrumptious buffet of freshly made everything, even a creative selection of home-baked goodies.  We’ll definitely return.

Wine Country Inn

Here’s an idea for seniors seeking a varied ski adventure: Fly into Salt Lake City, ski at a few of those great areas, then head out to Colorado. Assuming the roads are in good shape, you’ll be in Palisade in 4.5 hours. Check in at Wine Country Inn, ski a few days at Powderhorn, then head east toward Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge, Loveland, or Arapahoe Basin. Drop off the car at Denver International and be on your way. Other routes will take you to Telluride and Crested Butte, or down to Las Vegas

Alternatively, if you want a hassle-free, laid back ski vacation, with good prices, uncrowded slopes, outstanding food, and uncompromising friendliness, simply fly into Grand Junction, rent a car, stay at Wine Country Inn, and enjoy the skiing and scenery at Powderhorn. It’s a winning combination. 

Click here for Powderhorn trail map

Click here for Powderhorn webcam.



One Comment

  1. David Porter says:

    Don’t forget the X-country skis for Grand Mesa trails. Really nice people at Powder horn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *