There are over 20 ski areas in Colorado and many skiers and snowboarders have only been to a handful of them. Colorado is a huge state that offers a ton of variety when it comes to skiing, so there is no reason to stick to only a couple resorts. The Gems Card offers the opportunity to explore more of the state by offering discounts at 11 ski areas. Last week, we set out on a long weekend to check out the Gems Resorts close to the Front Range. This week, we took it a little bit further in order to cross a few more ski areas off our lists.
To successfully pull off this ambitious trip, it’s a good idea to aim for a long weekend or take Friday off and start your Gems weekend by driving to Powderhorn on Thursday night. This is the longest leg of the journey, around four hours from Denver. You’re in for a scenic drive west on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon to the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway. Powderhorn offers on mountain lodging or you bunk down in nearby Grand Junction, Palisade or Mesa.
On Friday morning, get up before the sun and grab first chair at Powderhorn. The early wake-up call will be worth it when you’re cruising down Powderhorn’s wide-open runs or through their famous glades. Powderhorn is known for their outstanding tree skiing, with beginner, intermediate and advanced options. Even better, the lift lines here are non-existent, which means you’ll have more time to cruise the slopes before your lunch break.
Stop in the Powderhorn Pub the lunch and take in Powderhorn’s unique and breathtaking views – the ski area neighbors the Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-topped mountain. The valleys, cliffs, mesas and canyons of western Colorado provide views unlike any other.
In the afternoon, pack up at Powderhorn and head back east. You can stick around Powderhorn again for the night or go ahead and make the 1 hour and 45 minute drive back on I-70 to Glenwood Springs and Sunlight Mountain Resort.
Photos courtesy of Sunlight Mountain Resort and DeAnna TreVizo.
Watching the sunrise over Sunlight Mountain Resort will have you stoked for another great day of skiing. Sunlight offers a down-to-earth atmosphere, with no lift lines or hassles. All 67 of Sunlight’s trails lead right back to the lodge, making it a family-friendly ski area that’s great for beginners and intermediate skiers.
If you’re looking for a challenge, you can venture over to Sunlight’s most challenging run. The steepest lift-served run in the state, “The Heathen” falls out from under your boots at a breathtaking 52 degrees. The Heathen is one of several double-black diamond runs in the East Ridge at Sunlight. After an afternoon of tackling this extreme terrain, you’ll be ready to retire the skis and relax for the night.
Speaking of relaxation, Sunlight is known for their unique offering of pairing a great day of skiing with a rejuvenating soak in a luxury natural hot springs. Sunlight partners with nearby Glenwood Hot Springs and Iron Mountain Hot Springs for a once-in-a-lifetime Colorado experience. Learn more about their Slope and Soak packages here.
On Sunday as you depart from Sunlight, you’ll have two options – You can hightail home and get a head start on the responsibilities of the work week (boring!), or you can detour to Granby Ranch, a true Gem if there ever was one. Granby Ranch is about an hour detour off I-70, and well worth extending the trip by a few hours for an extra day of skiing.
Granby Ranch is a family-owned ski resort that offers a classic Colorado skiing experience, without the crowds. Enjoy easy and intermediate groomers or take on the challenge of tree skiing and terrain park features. Granby Ranch also offers cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails, plus fireside dining in three slopeside on-mountain restaurants.
By the time you head for home, you’ll have sore skier’s legs and a whole host of great stories to tell your friends.
Do you have an epic Gems Card Weekend tale? Tell us in the comments. Or check out our Front Range Gems Weekend trip itinerary and stay tuned for a Southwest Gems Card Weekend coming up.