Delta County offers a unique perspective on Colorado winter. Here, the pace is a little slower; though the scenery and activities rival anything else Colorado has to offer.
If you want to carve fresh tracks in Colorado's famous champagne powder without battling the crowds, Powderhorn Resort is just the ticket. A local favorite, this ski area offers affordable, uncrowded and challenging slopes for skiers and boarders. Powderhorn, which averages 250 inches of snow each season, sits on the edge of the Grand Mesa, one of the largest flattops mountains in the world.
During the winter, Grand Mesa's 800-square miles of lakes, meadows and forests are transformed into a haven for cold-weather recreation enthusiasts. The magic of Grand Mesa is immediately apparent when you travel the scenic route along Highway 65 that leads to the veritable playground at the 11,000-foot summit. Grand Mesa averages about 420 inches of snowfall a year and is home to 400 miles of winter trails and the longest snowmobile trail in North America–the 123-mile-long Powderhorn to Sunlight Trail. In addition to snowmobiling, visitors may also enjoy cross-country skiing, backcountry skiing and snowshoeing. The Grand Mesa Nordic Council grooms trails and sponsors a number of events on Grand Mesa, including: races, kids' events and demonstrations.
If spectator sports are more your speed, take in one of the sled dog races hosted on Grand Mesa, where professional, gold medal winning mushers, as well as internationally-acclaimed skijorers, compete. The flat nature of the Grand Mesa terrain provides an opportunity for the drivers–and dogs–to display the best of their abilities.
When visiting the area, you may stay in one of the many lodging options in the nearby communities, or rent a cabin on the mesa, where the winter wonderland will be literally at your doorstep. Grand Mesa Lodge (800.551.6372), located 16 miles north of Cedaredge on Highway 65 near milepost marker 28, offers attractively-furnished log cabins, complete with fully-equipped kitchens, gas heat and bathrooms with showers. One cabin features a rock fireplace and a lake view, and motel units are also available. Grand Mesa Lodge also offers guided snowmobile tours.
Thunder Mountain Lodge sits on top of Grand Mesa and also rents snowmobiles onsite. Located sixteen miles north of Cedaredge and one miles south of Highway 65 and the Visitors Center on Forest Road 121, the lodge features completely remodeled cabins with queen beds, living rooms and a kitchenette. Each cabin also has a fireplace where you can warm yourself after a day of fun in the sun and snow. The new restaurant Roscoe's offers a great menu with it's famous Prime Rib on Saturday nights. (www.thudnermountainlodge.net)
Alexander Lake Lodge is busy remodeling their property, but still offers some guest accommodations. Steeped in history dating back to the early 1890's, and lush with tales of barons, disappearances, and unrequited love, Alexander Lake Lodge has inspired generations of visitors with it's grand vistas and unparalleled surroundings. Visit us on the web at www.alexanderlakelodge.com or call 970-856-(ALEX) 2539.
Home to more than 400 miles of winter trails, Delta County welcomes winter trail sports enthusiasts with open arms. Snow blankets averaging 420 inches (35 feet) on the Grand Mesa in the wintertime create a winter playground and a perfect perch from which to catch amazing views of the world's largest flat-topped mountain and its surroundings.
Whether you're looking for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or snowmobiling, there is trail system on which you can channel your inner snow bunny. As a general rule, snowmobile trails are flagged with orange markers, while Nordic (cross-country and snowshoeing) trails are flagged with blue.
Stretching an impressive 123-miles, this is the longest snowmobile trail in the lower 48. The main section of trail is nicknamed "The SP" for Sunlight to Powderhorn. The rest of the trails are numbered according to the mile marker where they intersect The SP as you travel east.
Made up of several gentle trails, the Skyway System offers a relatively easy but pleasing-to-the-nature-lover's-eye way to spend a day snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. The northeastern section of the system provides views of the Book Cliffs, eroded shale walls named for their resemblance to books lined up on a shelf. Groomed by the The Grand Mesa Nordic Council, the trails are shared between snowshoers, classic, and skate cross country skiers.
Linked to the Skyway Trail System by a one-mile trail, the County Line System offers an even easier selection of groomed cross country ski and snowshoeing trails but without losing the extraordinary views. The system's southern trails boast splendid views of the majestic San Juan Mountains.
Looking for a more challenging outing? The Ward Lake Trail system offers cross country skiers and snowshoers a more extensive selection of marked, groomed and non-groomed trails with a 500-foot elevation difference between its lowest and highest portions.