9 Minute Read

Grand Junction is the Colorado you expect, especially in the winter season. No crowds, affordable, friendly locals, and a variety of outdoor activities from mild to wild. One of the many unique attributes of a Grand Junction winter is that you can enjoy all the snow sports you expect in Colorado, and you can also hike in sneakers and mountain bike on dirt. The western side of the state provides vast snowy alpine terrain juxtaposed with dramatic high desert, creating two seasons in one! 

We've made it easy for you to plan your next visit - check out the below activities complete with where to go and what to expect.



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Powderhorn Mountain Resort

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Downhill Ski/Snowboard 

  • Level of difficulty: 20% Beginner, 50% Intermediate, and 30% Advanced/Expert
  • Number of Runs: 45

Are you looking to carve up some fresh Colorado powder this winter? Well, you are in luck! Pack up your gear and take the short 45-minute drive from Grand Junction to Powderhorn Mountain Resort. This affordable family-friendly resort offers some of the best glade skiing in Colorado - all without the crowds and traffic. 


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Terrain Parks

  • Lower Peace Park (Beginner)
    • Beginner boxes and rails
    • Accessed by Flat Top Flyer Chair Lift
  • Upper Peace Park (Expert)
    • 3-jump line, advanced boxes and rails 
    • Accessed by Easy Rider Chair Lift and Flat Top Flyer Chair Lift

At Powderhorn Mountain Resort you don’t need a Patagonia label to fit in. Whether you are just learning freestyle terrain or looking to catch some major airtime, Powderhorn is a super friendly and approachable ski area to hang with the locals at. Carhartts welcome!




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Powderhorn Mountain Resort Uphill Skiing

  • Cost: $14 Day Pass or $49 Season Pass 
  • Location: Grand Mesa
  • During operating hours (9 am - 4 pm): Uphill access is restricted to the hiker’s right (downhill skier’s left) of Dude, Tenderfoot, Red Eye, Maverick, and Greenhorn to the bottom of the Wonderbump race course
  • Outside of operating hours (4 pm - 9 am): Uphill access is restricted to Bill's Run.
  • Parking: 48338 Powderhorn Rd, Mesa, CO 81643

Earn your turns! Powderhorn Mountain Resort can also be enjoyed by those looking to skin up for a rewarding trip back down the mountain. Please be sure to read the resort’s Uphill Policy before you go.


Mesa Creek Backcountry Ski Area

Just a few miles past Powderhorn Mountain Resort, you will find the Mesa Creek Back Country Ski Area. This abandoned ski area is best known for its deep glade skiing and lack of avalanche activity. However, always check avalanche conditions before heading out.




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Dog Loop

Bring Fido along on this groomed trail while you immerse yourself in the snow-capped pines. This easy and beginner-friendly loop is perfect for a day spent in the snow.


Vista Valley

Spend your day gliding along some freshly groomed corduroy on the Vista Valley trail and finish off your day at the warming hut telling stories with the others who willingly share their best tips and trail recommendations.




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Ward Creek Trail System

While the Grand Mesa is the largest flat-top mountain in the world and it is rare to come across another hiker, snowshoeing on the Ward Creek Trail System is perfect for those looking for the comfort of being around others while still being able to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the great outdoors. If you prefer a more remote hike, check out the Lost Lake Trail below.

Note: If you plan to snowshoe on a cross-country ski trail, please stay on the edges of the trail and walk in a single-file line to avoid collisions with skiers and damage to the trails. It is recommended that snowshoers only use the Ward Lake Trail System when using the Grand Mesa Nordic Ski trail areas on the Grand Mesa. Click here for a map of the Grand Mesa Nordic Ski Trail areas.


Skyway Snowshoe Trail

This designated snowshoe trail was recently revived by the Grand Mesa Nordic Council, who professionally maintains and manages all the cross-country ski trails on the Grand Mesa. Take this trail to view vistas of the surrounding area including Powderhorn Mountain Resort, the Colorado River and the Grand Junction area.

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Lost Lake Trail 

  • Cost: Free
  • Location: Grand Mesa
  • Length: 4 miles 
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Pets: Allowed with a leash
  • Time to complete: 3 Hours
  • Parking: Mesa Lakes Trailhead

This popular trail in the summer is just as magical covered in snow. With an elevation gain of about 550 feet, the Lost Lake trail takes you and your furry friend shoreside of both South Mesa Lake and Lost Lake.




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James M. Robb - Connected Lakes Section

  • Cost: $9 Daily Vehicle Pass, $4 Individual Daily Pass (non-vehicle), Annual Pass: $80 Affixed Annual Pass, $120 Annual Hang Tag Pass, $70 Aspen Leaf Annual Pass (64+)
  • Location: Grand Junction
  • Ease of access: Easy
  • Fish species: Largemouth Bass, Black Bullhead Catfish, Common Carp, Black Crappie, Bluegill, Green Sunfish
  • Parking: James M. Robb – Connected Lakes Section

If you’re looking for an easily accessible lake filled with a variety of fish species, Connected Lakes is a Grand Junction favorite. Just 2 miles from Downtown Grand Junction, this lake offers great ice fishing and peaceful views of nature.


Mesa Lake 

  • Cost: Free
  • Location: Grand Mesa
  • Ease of access: Moderate
  • Length of hike: 0.3 miles
  • Fish Species: Brook Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout
  • Parking: Mesa Lakes Lodge

Enjoy a leisurely hike to Mesa Lake on the Grand Mesa. This is an easy trek where you can check out of reality and get in touch with nature’s peace and solitude

Note: Check to make sure you have a valid fishing license prior to dropping your hook in. Visit Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s website to get your fishing license. 




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Old Powderhorn 

Known as Old Powderhorn, this ski hill used to be the go-to place for skiers before Powderhorn Mountain Resort opened. Now, this epic slope is a staple for locals and guests who are looking to catch some speed on their favorite tube or sled. 


Ward Creek Reservoir Hill

If you are looking for an area that is less crowded and not as steep as Old Powderhorn but still offers amazing sledding opportunities, check out the sled hill just west of Ward Creek Reservoir. Park in the Ward Creek Reservoir parking area and head west across Highway 65. 




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Mack Mesa

  • Cost: $9 Daily Vehicle Pass, $4 Individual Daily Non-Vehicle Pass, Annual Pass: $80 Affixed Annual Pass, $120 Annual Hang Tag Pass, $70 Aspen Leaf Annual Pass (64+)
  • Location: Highline Lake State Park
  • Parking: Mack Mesa Parking Lot

Embrace the sunshine and the beauty of Colorado while skating outside on Mack Mesa Lake in Highline State Park. This small lake is easily accessed from the parking lots on either side of the lake and is perfect for a family day out on the blades.


River City Sportsplex

If you prefer to skate indoors, head over to River City Sportsplex in Grand Junction for a public skate session or check out a cosmic skate session complete with disco lights. Skate rentals are only $4.00 and can be rented at the rink.




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Otto’s Trail 

  • Cost: $25 per non-commercial vehicle, $20 motorcycle pass, $15 per individual (hiker, bicyclist)
  • Location: Colorado National Monument
  • Length: 0.8 miles 
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time to complete: 30 minutes
  • Parking: Otto’s Trailhead

Put your snow boots away because hiking in the Colorado National Monument during the winter often only requires hiking boots or a good pair of sneakers. Check out Otto’s Trail as it leads you to stunning views of both Monument Canyon and Wedding Canyon.


No Thoroughfare Canyon

If you are looking for more of a challenge, No Thoroughfare Canyon meets that expectation. Although this hike is more difficult than most hikes in the Colorado National Monument, the reward of a jaw-dropping frozen waterfall at the end is definitely worth it. 




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Chutes & Ladders Loop

While this trail does include some steep uphill sections that will challenge your lung and leg strength, there are plenty of opportunities to open up as it quickly becomes fast and flowy with few hazards and surprises to watch out for.


Rustler's Loop

  • Cost: Free
  • Location: Grand Junction
  • Length: 3.9 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate
  • Parking: Rustler's Loop Trailhead

As a perfect ride for beginners looking to be challenged and not intimidated, Rustler's Loop has a variety of terrain that helps introduce new riders to the sport. This trail is also perfect for those looking to enjoy an easy ride while taking in the beauty of the scenery and the Colorado River, which flows just below the rim's edge.




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Clark and Co’s Distillery

Discover the flavors of the Grand Junction area’s newest distillery. Clark and Co’s Distillery is serving up deliciously crafted cocktails with views of the Book Cliffs alongside the Colorado River. Sip on a delicious cocktail like the Butterfly Lemonade made with butterfly gin, lavender, lemonade and topped with a fresh lemon or try out four different infused moonshines in a moonshine flight. 


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Downtown Carlson Vineyards Tasting Room

After enjoying Downtown Grand Junction’s art scene, filled with over 115 outdoor sculptures and murals, stop into Carlson Vineyards Downtown Tasting Room for a wine flight and a bottle or two. One of their most popular wines is the peach wine made from Palisade Peaches.


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Trail Life Brewing

Satisfy your adrenaline-induced hunger after a day playing in the snow at Grand Junction’s newest brewery, Trail Life Brewing Company. Quench your thirst with a house-brewed beer like the River Shuttle Blonde or the Splitter Crack IPA. The GJ Cheesesteak is hearty enough to tackle your appetite and get you refueled. Sharing a space with this hip brewery is The Gear Junction.





Board & Buckle


Bicycle Outfitters


Brown Cycles


Summit Canyon Mountaineering




Powderhorn Rental Shop


Where to purchase sleds and tubes (no rentals available):


For more ways to experience Grand Junction, check out pages 16-23 of the Official Grand Junction Visitor Guide.

Photo By: Myra Gaither