Don't be surprised when you visit Powderhorn to find that most everyone you meet is somehow related. "There's a lot of intergenerational skiing, says Rondo Buecheler, patroller, ski-shop owner and 29-year Powderhorn veteran. Not only will you spot grandparents, parents and kids bombing down the same slopes, but you'll soon learn the resort staff is similarly intertwined. For instance, the resort's architect is married to an employee in the ski shop; their daughter, the assistant ski school director, is married to a patrol supervisor; and their daughter works in the ski school.
That's what you get in a place where people want to put down roots, and Powderhorn certainly qualifies. "Lots of employees have worked here over 20 years, says Buecheler.
It's not just the strong sense of community that keeps people here; it's also the magical high-desert setting among the red buttes and dusty mesas of Colorado's western canyon country. The resort is perched high on Grand Mesa, a broad, pine-and-aspen-studded alpine plateau. It's also only 45 minutes from Grand Junction, Colorado's western wine-and-peach hub, and the world-renowned mountain-bike trails of nearby Fruita.
Visitors enjoy Powderhorn's 1,650-foot vertical drop; the ultra-dry, desert-borne powder; the rolling cruisers, like Bill's, which features the panoramic views of the Grand Valley; and a plethora of tree runs such as Thunder Mountain Glade.
Slopeside, skiers can stay at the Inn at Wildewood or the Goldenwoods. Or head down to Palisade, 35 minutes from the resort, and treat yourself to a night at Two Rivers Winery & Chateau, located in a vineyard. In Grand Junction, try the Castle Creek Bed and Breakfast. For dinner, Il Bistro Italiano offers authentic Italian food; for a more upscale experience, try the Winery Restaurant.