The largest flat-top mountain in the world has more to offer winter guests than just great views!
Just a 40-minute drive from Grand Junction, Colorado is the Grand Mesa National Forest, known for its hundreds of lakes and big views. While Grand Junction’s winter climate is mild, due to the high desert, the Grand Mesa boasts powder-cloaked trails, snowy glades, frozen lakes and even a downhill ski resort - making it a winter wonderland for Colorado vacationers. So, come for the scenery, enjoy the uncrowded and easy-to-access trails, and start adventuring on the Grand Mesa - you’ll have plenty of activities to choose from and hundreds of square miles to explore!
Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
More than 30 miles of groomed Nordic ski trails are maintained on the Grand Mesa, courtesy of Grand Mesa Nordic Council. With something for Nordic enthusiasts of all experience levels and interests, your biggest challenge may be deciding what trails to hit! For dog-friendly and family-friendly cross-country skiing, check out the County Line Trails. The Skyway Trails are more challenging for those looking for heart-pounding action. Looking for backcountry skiing? The Ward System will certainly fill that void! Additionally, the Nordic Council offers ski clinics, trail reports, ski and snowshoe races and other fun events.
Meanwhile, winter hikers and snowshoers have even more options available. Just strap on a pair of snowshoes or traction cleats, and you can explore hundreds of hiking trails, including some summertime favorites like Lost Lake. Feel free to follow the cross-country trails, but be sure to trek alongside them.
Fat biking is also popular on Grand Mesa but is only allowed on snow-covered roads and is not permitted on groomed Nordic trails. Lands End is perfect for fat biking, offering some of the best views on the Mesa.
Downhill Skiing Near Grand Junction
Shaped like a 10,000-foot-tall table, the Grand Mesa has a flat top and sheer cliffs making it perfect for downhill skiing and boarding at Powderhorn Mountain Resort. While the views give the impression of being at the top of the world, the terrain offers some of the best alpine ski runs in Colorado, with over 1,600 acres of skiable terrain and known for its tree-skiing through the aspens and evergreens. Ski runs offer a nice balance - 20 percent beginner, 50 percent intermediate, and 30 percent advanced. Powderhorn is one of the most beginner-friendly resorts in Colorado, even offering three free lessons and ski or board passes with the Bob Beverly Program!
Created by glacier moraines and fed by bountiful Colorado snow, Grand Mesa boasts over 300 lakes spanning across hundreds of square miles. Island Lake and Sunset Lake are two popular ice fishing spots, but most Grand Mesa lakes provide you the solitude you are looking for. As always, your best bet for a successful (and safe) fishing trip is to check with local fishing shops and guides for advice. Please make sure to bring safety gear.
Snowmobiling on the Grand Mesa
It’s hard to look at endless miles of pristine powder decorated by snow-covered pine forests and not imagine trailblazing with a snowmobile into the remote and tranquil wilderness. With an impressive network of snowmobile trails, including the whopping 120-mile-long Sunlight-to-Powderhorn trail, the sky’s the limit! Altitude Outdoor Adventures offers guided trips for all levels of the snowmobile experience. Grand Mesa Lodge also offers both guided trips and snowmobile rentals for self-sufficient riders ready to head off on their own.
When it’s time to wind down and warm up, head back to Grand Junction for a fireside bevvy at Highlands Distillery, known for their quality cocktails and hip atmosphere. For a hearty dinner, stop by Rockslide Brewery, the OG of breweries in the area. For a carb-fueled Italian meal, Enzo’s is a local favorite.