Go Play: Go sledding at Mesa Creek Ski Area
Special to the Free Press
WANT TO GO?
Getting there is a cinch. From Grand Junction, take I-70 and get off at exit 49, which is Hwy. 65. Take that road up past the town of Mesa.
Mesa Creek/Old P-horn is a couple miles past Powderhorn Resort on Hwy. 65. You can’t miss the big turn-out parking lot and restroom shack. Plus, there will likely be plenty of cars especially after a fresh powder dump. Plan for a 45-minute drive from Grand Junction.
Old timers call it Mesa Creek Ski Area, but it’s also known as “Old Powderhorn,” the original ski destination on the Grand Mesa for locals back in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.
Old P., as some locals call it, has since made way for the “new” Powderhorn Mountain Resort, which opened in 1966. But the carved-out runs still exist and are now used as a popular destination for sledders as well as skiers, snowboarders and telemarkers who want to slide in the backcountry on the cheap. Without the benefit of the old tow ropes that serviced the area back in the day, folks have to either hike up, skin up or shuttle to the top to make that thrilling ride down through the hallway of glades.
Sledders make use of the lower ski area, which is visible from Highway 65. It doesn’t look that steep, but once you start hiking up with your sled, your lungs feel it. Popular conveyances you’ll see on the hill are car or truck-tire inner tubes.
Living by the motto of “I’ll try almost anything once,” I had the pleasure of riding and almost dying in a giant tractor wheel inner tube, which held eight of us. (Not a safe sledding decision …)
The sled hill is wide enough to accommodate lots of riders, with the added benefit of a long, flat area to slow down so you won’t run out of “runway.” It also has a variety of pitches, so it’s perfect to bring kids of all ages. In fact, families primarily make up the visiting sledders. Children afraid to sled can be found on the sidelines, making snow forts and snowmen. And of course, snowball fights and whitewashings are de rigueur on the hill.
Folks usually make it a day trip and bring camp stoves to make hot chocolate or even chili on their tailgates. A sled day at the old Mesa Creek Ski Area is one of my family’s favorite annual traditions in late December, and it should be yours. So go play!
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