Powderhorn Mountain Resort, on the north side of the Grand Mesa in western Colorado, has long seemed like an immutable ski area, few and infrequent changes. There was little need since the Mesa is the winter playground for the captive audience from the area around Grand Junction, which I think of as the capital of western Colorado. Now, it is due for some major upgrades — though, alas, lodging does not seem to be part of it.
Nearly four years after being purchased by Gart Capital Partners and Andy Daly, Powderhorn will be investing $5 million in the coming year to improve the slopes for winter and summer recreation. The big news is a Poma high-speed quad chairlift along the same alignment as the current Take Four lift to cut ride time and adding comfortable seats and footrests. The bottom terminal will be lowered by approximately eight feet for easier access to lift loading area. Also on the docket: additional snowmaking on the lower portion Bill’s Run, the intermediate trail for assure high-quality conditions on opening day in mid-December. The new quad will feature bike carriers to access the first phase of a comprehensive new mountain bike system.
For all sorts of reasons, what is not in the plan is additional lodging or anything resembling a village — just a mid-range condo development with a restaurant that is sometimes open, sometimes not. I love the notion of an upgraded lift along with base area improvements in the last few years, but using the word “Resort” as part of the name is really hyperbole. Grand Junction, with an abundance of affordable accommodations, is a doable commute, but it still doesn’t provide the feel of a ski destination.