Five Ways to Play in Snow's Perfect State

Grand Junction is a Mecca for Colorado outdoor sports enthusiasts and is known for its temperate climate and mild winters. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and enjoy the white fluffy powder Colorado is famous for! The Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-top mountain, is a winter wonderland. Even if there is no snow in Grand Junction, drive 45 minutes to the Mesa to be surrounded by the terrain and the activities that really do make Colorado Snow’s Perfect State.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding:

Located on the northern flank of the Grand Mesa is Powderhorn Resort, offering downhill skiing and snowboarding, as well as equipment rental, lessons, meals, and lodging. The resort, which receives an average of 250 inches of snow each year, usually opens in December and closes in late March (pending snow conditions). Powderhorn has 63 runsincluding backcountry, suitable for every level from beginner to expert with a high-speed quad perfect for getting you to the top in record time. Powderhorn is known to offer some of the best tree skiing in Colorado as well. The new terrain-assisted learning area helps newbies control their speed, reduce their fear and enhance their skills. Full-day adult lift tickets cost $71, although lower prices are available for children, seniors, and young adults.


Combine high-speed thrills with breathtaking vistas that provide views from Aspen to Telluride to Utah, and you’ve got snowmobiling through 800-square-miles of the Grand Mesa National Forest. Because of its size, snowmobiling is arguably the best way to experience Grand Mesa’s expansive wintry landscape. An intricate network of snowmobile trails winds over and around the Grand Mesa, including the 120-mile-long Sunlight to Powderhorn Trail (SP Trail) stretching from Powderhorn Mountain Resort to Sunlight Ski Area near Glenwood Springs. Consider a guided tour or hourly rental from Mesa Lakes Lodge or Grand Mesa Lodge — both rustic cabin lodges can even accommodate sled heads overnight.

Winter brings plenty of snow to the Grand Mesa, which stands taller than 11,000 feet at its peak elevation. Three networks of cross-country ski trails crown this enormous, flat-top mountain just outside of Grand Junction. The Skyway trail system offers pristine classic and skate-skiing routes for every level and a warming hut just 100 yards from the trailhead. The Country Line trail system is ideal for beginner and intermediate skiers, while the Ward trail system on the south side of the Mesa is best suited for intermediate to advanced skiers. Other trail options include the West Bench Trail and Old Mesa Road — both are marked, but remain ungroomed.


During cold weather months, hiking doesn’t stop atop the Grand Mesa — all you need to explore its quiet, snow-covered groves is a pair of snowshoes and a thirst for adventure. Amateur and seasoned snowshoers alike can hike virtually anywhere cross-country skiers can, including the groomed GMNC trail system, as long as snowshoers walk next to — not on — the groomed Nordic trails. If the only thing keeping you from fields of untouched snow is the lack of funny-looking footwear required to walk on it, rest assured Grand Junction’s Board & Buckle or nearby Mesa Lakes Lodge has you covered with rental equipment. 

Ice Fishing:

More than 25 percent of Colorado anglers spend their winter's ice fishing, and for good reason — wetting your line early in the season can yield the biggest return, but keep in mind the ice is still forming and could be somewhat thin. Biting fish can be found within an hour's drive from Grand Junction November through February. Find Snake River cutthroat trout in most of the frozen lakes atop Grand Mesa, rainbow trout in the Vega Reservoir, yellow perch in the Rifle Gap Reservoir and kokanee salmon in the Blue Mesa Reservoir. Remember, a fishing license is required year-round, so be sure to purchase a fishing license online or stop by a licensed agent like Cabela’s before making your way out onto the ice.


And to top it all off, Grand Junction has affordable lodging that you just can’t find other places in Colorado! With an average winter hotel rate of $74 - $125 per night including 3-star hotels, Grand Junction is the perfect place to enjoy Snow’s Perfect State.