Visit Vail or Aspen and you know you are in a ski town. Ski lifts and hotels dominate the landscape. Everyone seems to be wearing spandex pants and sleek jackets with a pair of reflective goggles strapped around their foreheads, and there is snow. Everywhere. Grand Junction looks very different. As I write this, I can hear the rhythmic dripping of icicles melting off the roof, and the spring-like sounds of collared doves, geese, and robins. Winter, its piercing wind and frosty chill the hallmark of other ski towns, stays up-mountain from Grand Junction, largely protected from the bite of winter by the very mountain making Grand Junction a ski town.
From my office I have a beautiful view of that mountain, the world’s longest flat-top, home to a lot more than just Alpine skiing. The Grand Mesa boasts 32-miles of some of the best high-altitude Nordic skiing anywhere, from long, smooth, lilting tracks to challenging, sweat-soaking trails. Skiing gold.
Rowan Hall, Co-Captain of the CMU Nordic Ski Club and a native of Alaska–where surely one would expect plenty of good skiing–told listeners last week on Snow Sports on the Grand Mesa Radio Show he chose to study at CMU because the skiing on the Grand Mesa was even better than in Alaska: It snows earlier, and the snow sticks around longer, making for the perfect training season. Toby Morse, owner and founder of the Odin Sports Center, has long held the Grand Mesa is perfect for a world-class Nordic ski destination because of the magic combination of terrain, weather, and altitude.
If you don’t think of Grand Junction as a ski town, think again. Five colleges and universities from all over Colorado are coming to Odin Sports Center January 26 to compete in Nordic ski races. The 2019 Winter Festival February 22-24, open to the public, will feature three days of races for Nordic skis, fat bikes, snow shoes, and Alpine skis, and demos for
outdoor equipment. The Grand Valley Nordic Ski Club runs weekend programs all winter long at Odin Sports Center, and Powderhorn Ski Resort features exciting snow events every weekend throughout the ski season. The Grand Valley is home to eight organizations* dedicated to Grand Mesa snow sports, and more come from outside the valley to use our mountain, like the Rocky Mountain Sled Dog Club and Flattoppers Snowmobile Club.
The Grand Mesa is hopping with winter sports to rival any ski town in Colorado.
If the spring-like weather still has you hypnotized and you don’t think of yourself as a skier, there are now more opportunities than ever to join the snow community. Every Wednesday, Toby teaches affordable group Nordic ski lessons at the Odin Sports Center. It’s perfect for bringing a few friends, taking a lesson, grabbing lunch at the Powderhorn restaurants or the Mesa Lakes Lodge, and then skiing all afternoon at gentle Skyway or County Line. There is still plenty of time this season to make it your weekly thing.
If you’re already a ski enthusiast, now you can get even more involved. Bring your family and sign up to race the Odin Invitational or at the Winter Festival. Check out the programs and events at the Grand Valley Ski Club and Powderhorn Ski Resort. Book a room, stay the night, and make a weekend out of the incredible skiing we have on the Grand Mesa.
Because our warm and spring-y Grand Junction is a ski town. – Leah Kenyon