Powderhorn Mountain Resort
Snow is not in the classic picture of Grand Junction. This Western Slope country is defined by the world's largest flattop mountain and the desert forming prime mountain biking territory. That, not skiing, is the region's famous outdoor activity, with Fruita the ultimate hub west of Grand Junction. Just east is Palisade, the state's wine capital, which depends on a climate you wouldn't think is conducive to a ski area. Yet for five decades on the edge of Grand Mesa, Powderhorn Mountain Resort has served locals who prize snow as much as every other Coloradan.
As "one of the most family friendly resorts you'll find anywhere in the West," 70 percent of Powderhorn's terrain is meant for beginner and intermediate skiers and riders. In 2015, the resort launched the Flat Top Flyer, a high-speed quad that takes guests to the modest top of the mountain. From there, Bill's Run is considered a good introduction to the terrain, unique for its covered boulder fields.
For something more challenging, the resort points you to Sweet Misery, considered the mountain's best run for moguls. After a storm, locals know to seek fresh tracks in the trees of Sven's Bend.
Skiable terrain: 1,600 acres
Trails: 42, 20 percent beginner, 50 percent intermediate, 30 percent advanced/expert
Average annual snowfall: 250 inches
Mountain stats: 9,850-foot summit, 8,200-foot base, 1,650 feet vertical
Check out: Octopus Coffee in Grand Junction, Sunset Grill on mountain, Bin 707 Foodbar in Grand Junction, Colterris Wines in Palisade, Colorado National Monument
Getting there: Go west on Interstate 70 to Grand Junction, taking exit 49 for Colorado 65 south. Go 8 miles through the town of Mesa to the resort.
More information: powderhorn.com
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE