So Far, Snow Good
By Penny Stine
While the Grand Valley has plenty to offer for those who love the outdoors and want to live in an area where they can easily pursue their favorite outdoor activities, those who love winter sports might want to look beyond the valley. Fortunately, they don’t have to look far to find a delightful winter playground. Grand Mesa, less than an hour away from Grand Junction, has plenty of snow and plenty of places for everyone to play in the snow.
Although much of the land on Grand Mesa is part of the Grand Mesa National Forest, there are quite a few pockets of private land and leased land where those who love to live in winter can buy a main residence or a second home.
If you’re thinking of buying real estate in the winter wonderland that Grand Mesa is shaping up to be this year, here are a few considerations.
Remember, Grand Mesa is big, hence the inclusion of the word ‘grand’ in the name. The huge area offers downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice-fishing, and plain old walking in the woods on a beautiful snowy day in an area that’s about 500 square miles. Some places on Grand Mesa are better suited to those who love to ride snowmobiles, while others are better suited to those who love to ski.
Those who love downhill skiing might want to look for a cabin, a lot or a home on the Grand Junction side of Grand Mesa, close to Powderhorn Mountain Resort. The ski area doesn’t have hundreds of second homes or vacation condos, like many of the other Colorado ski resorts, but there are a few single-family housing areas near the mountain, as well as some condominiums.
Horizon Estates is an area almost directly across Highway 65 from the ski area, where some homeowners have built homes they live in year-round, and others have built vacation cabins. There are currently a few existing homes available for sale at Horizon Estates.
Powder Ridge and Wildwood Estates are two housing areas at Powderhorn Resort. Although both neighborhoods have been around for dozens of years, there are still a few lots available in both areas. Lot sizes vary, but generally start at a quarter-acre and go up to an acre or two. Available utilities include water, electricity, and propane.
There is one condo development with units for sale at Powderhorn, Valley View Condominiums, which was built several decades ago, but which often has units available for sale.
Those who want to have a vacation home close to the cross-country ski area may want to keep the housing near Powderhorn in mind, as the areas where the Grand Mesa Nordic Council manages and grooms are on nearby national forest property, where there is no housing.
There are a few areas on Grand Mesa that offer cabins and second homes on leased national forest land, including the cabins near Alexander Lake, Baron Lake and Lake Eggleston that are part of the Grand Mesa Resort Company. Those cabins range from extremely rustic to fairly modern, but none of them have year-round road access, nor do they have year-round water, as the water pipes that service the area are above-ground, and are winterized in the fall.
Snow-loving and snowmobile-owning cabin owners who aren’t afraid of a more rustic experience use their cabins year round, thanks to old-fashioned outhouses and a willingness to haul in groceries and water on snowmobiles. Their reward is access to an area that’s absolutely fantastic for snowmobiling, with areas of groomed trails and miles and miles of backcountry wilderness and powder to explore.
There are also vacation cabins and lots that occasionally come onto the market near Vega State Park, where county-maintained roads provide year-round access. Snowmobile trails connect the Vega Lake area to other routes on Grand Mesa. Visitors to the Vega area can also enjoy ice-fishing at the state park, and cross-country skiing on a 2.32-mile in-park trail. Of course, anywhere there is a hill can be a great place to enjoy sledding.
Those who think they’d enjoy the backcountry snowmobiling experience but would like confirmation before making an offer on a cabin, may want to check out Thunder Mountain Lodge, near Ward Lake on Grand Mesa, which has both snowmobile and cabin rentals. Jeff Kieper, who bought the lodge three years ago, also offers guided tours of the area for those who are unfamiliar with the backcountry routes.
Vega Lodge, Grand Mesa Lodge, Alexander Lake Lodge, and Mesa Lakes Lodge also offer year-round cabins.