Grand Junction's Powderhorn Mountain Resort has come a long way since the 1940's and a tow rope. These days, the Western Slope mountain is spruced up for prime-time, providing terrain parks, quad lifts, and a wealth of activities throughout the ski season. Situated between Moab (and the Arches National Park) of Utah and the reknown Aspen, Colorado, the area is able to offer the best of both concepts to its visitors. The resort itself is just northeast of Grand Junction, in Mesa, Colorado.
The slope's base may be at 8,200 feet, but the peak at 9,850 feet is actually about 4,000 feet above the valley town. The mountain provides a rousing 20 percent of its trails for beginners and 50 percent for intermediate skiers, and some exciting terrain park features, providing adrenalin rushes for beginners and experts alike. Pepsi Corporation continues to sponsor the main terrain park area, continuing the tradition of thrills. Receiving 250 inches of snow in an average year, the mountain has also been set up with snowmaking equipment, should the need arise. The ski area itself is a large bowl, with the black diamond runs nearer the top on each of two areas. To the right (as you're facing the mountain) you'll find more blue diamond trail, including long runs like the Snow Cloud, which runs into the Lower Dude and on back to the lifts, and Tenderfoot, which begins at the top and makes its way around to Lower Snowcloud, a very long trail combination, before ending up at the other lift. Overall, the mountain's trails are well designed, perfect for the beginning and intermediate skier to hone his skills while enjoying the vacation time. As the skills improve, one can easily progress to more difficult runs.
The school and ski patrol are top-notch, as is the case in most all Colorado resorts. The resort is proud of their ability to take first-time skiers and bring them up rapidly and safely towards intermediate abilities. They walk you through every step of the program in advance, so you'll know what you're doing from before you even arrive at the mountain.
The Stay and Save lodgings on the mountain itself may be appealing (who doesn't want to start the day's skiing right outside the front door?) but most of the nightlife is going to be happening in town, whether that's right there in Mesa or in nearby Grand Junction. There you'll find plenty of live music by some very talented locals and a variety of dining choices as well. Though the elevation is slightly lower than many of the Colorado resorts, this is still the Rocky Mountains; multiple layers of thin clothing and a breathable waterproof “powder” jacket are advised. A neck gator can be a welcome piece of gear as well. Even though you may feel warmer in Grand Junction, there's still a lot of UV light bouncing off of the snow, so glasses or goggles are also in order.
Powderhorn is a great place for a ski vacation for any level of skier, while providing many exciting opportunities for beginners and intermediate skiers to advance—and it's a lot of fun to ski.
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