Grand Valley Family: Skiing 101

One of the fabulous things about the Grand Valley is that we have four beautiful seasons. For families that love being outdoors together, there is always something fun to do. Come winter, that something is skiing on the Grand Mesa—whether cross-country skiing on top of the mountain or alpine skiing and snowboarding at Powderhorn Mountain Resort. 

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Why Ski or Snowboard?

Since you live in Colorado, you might as well be a skier or snowboarder. Perhaps no other sport or activity defines our state as much as skiing. 

Beyond their convenient proximity, snow sports are fun, thrilling, and challenging lifelong activities. They are also multi-generational sports. Spend a day at Powderhorn and you’ll see parents helping tiny tots on the beginner slope, grandparents skiing with grandchildren of all ages, and every other friend-and-family combination that you can imagine.

Matt Rosenberg is a local father of two young sons. He grew up ski racing at Powderhorn before moving to Steamboat at age 13 to pursue a higher level of competition. 

“Skiing with my sons is the thing I look forward the most,” Matt shares. “When I was ski racing, it became a job and I burnt out at 17. Now that I’m skiing with my sons, I’m genuinely pumped about skiing again. I love watching them improve every time we ski.” 

Start Smart With Lessons

 For children and adults with physical disabilities and other special needs,  Colorado DiscoverAbility  offers lessons with trained instructors. 

For children and adults with physical disabilities and other special needs, Colorado DiscoverAbility offers lessons with trained instructors. 

Lessons are the best way to learn to ski and snowboard, whether you’re an adult or a child. 

Stephanie Reynolds, manager of the Powderhorn Ski and Snowboard Center, suggests a minimum of three lessons for beginners. “What we see is that by the third day, beginners can usually ski off the top of the mountain,” she explains. 

Powderhorn’s “Learn To” program capitalizes on this, offering “never-ever” skiers and snowboarders three full-day lessons, equipment rentals, and lift tickets for a total of $169. 

“Learning to ski or snowboard at Powderhorn is a terrific value,” shares Reynolds, who — along with Powderhorn snowboard instructor Adam Goeden — is recognized as one of the top instructors in the Rocky Mountain region. She notes that the Powderhorn Ski and Ride school is certified by PSIA /AASI (Professional Ski Instructors of America/American Association of Snowboard Instructors) and that lessons cost significantly less than at larger resorts. 

In addition, Reynolds and her staff keep class sizes small, meaning students get lots of personal attention. “Our ski and snowboard school can stand next to any other ski and ride school in the state, if not higher.” 

Tips for Beginners (and Their Children)

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Wear The Right Clothes. Beginners tend to either overdress and get too warm, or underdress and get too cold. Dressing in layers helps with this. Long underwear or base layers should be made of wool or polypropylene, as should one pair of thin ski socks. Never wear cotton. 

A fleece or wool sweater, waterproof mittens or gloves, waterproof ski pants, and a ski coat are essential. On colder days add another fleece, a down vest, a balaclava, or a face mask. On warmer days omit a layer. Always wear a helmet and goggles or sunglasses. And don’t forget sunscreen.

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Take Breaks. Skiing and snowboarding are exhilarating — and tiring. The top of Powderhorn is at 9,850 feet elevation. Take breaks to drink water, eat snacks, and rest in the lodge or on the sundeck. Stop skiing and riding if you or your children are tired. 

Be Patient. Learning to ski and snowboard takes time, and there is a natural progression for skills and for terrain. Never push anyone, an adult or child, beyond their ability. If you’re the beginner, be patient and enjoy the process. Don’t compare yourself or your child to anyone else. 

Enjoy the Outdoors

Winter can be a difficult time to get outdoors. If you and your family ski or snowboard, you’ll enjoy winter much more. Take time to breathe in the cold, clean air. Stand at the top of the mountain and absorb the wondrous views along the Grand Mesa and over the Book Cliffs and the Roan Plateau. 

Congratulate yourself on your good fortune and for living here, where we have four gorgeous seasons. While it can be hard to pick a favorite, we’re betting that if you begin skiing and snowboarding, winter might become yours. Enjoy!

Powderhorn Lift Tickets and Discounts 2017-18 Season

  • Full-day adult lift ticket is $71
  • Youth ticket (13-17) is $60
  • Junior ticket (7-12) is $35
  • Child ticket (11 and under) is $18

Powderhorn Card

Saves money if you plan to ski more than nine days. For the price of one lift ticket (of any age group), the holder gets the first day free and 20% off all additional ski days. Or, if you’re skiing or snowboarding with beginners, check out the EZ Rider chairlift-only lift ticket.  

Colorado Ski Country USA Gems Card

The $25 Gems Card offers two 2-for-1 lift tickets (or two 30%-off lift tickets) at ten resorts in Colorado, including Powderhorn.

5th & 6th Grade Passports

  • The 5th Grade Passport (free) offers three free days of skiing at Powderhorn and 20 other resorts. 
  • The 6th Grade Passport ($99) offers four days of skiing at Powderhorn and these same resorts.

Powderhorn Ski & Snowboard Center Lessons and Clinics for Kids & Adults

In addition to individual group and private lessons for all ages and abilities, Powderhorn offers lesson and clinic packages. All lessons come with discounted rentals and lift tickets, if needed. 

“Learn To” Lesson Package

Three full-day lessons, rentals, and lift tickets for beginners who have never skied or snowboarded before. Upon completion, participants get a Graduate Card for 50% off group lessons, rentals, and lift tickets for the remainder of the season. Open to adults and children 5 and up (skiers) or 7 and up (snowboarders). 

Friends and Family Private Lessons

Make your own group of 3-6 people and pay one price for a 2- or 4-hour private lesson. Families are welcome. 

Fast Track

A series of three lessons for experienced skiers and snowboarders, from kids to adults, ready to progress to a new level of skill. Includes rentals and lift tickets. 


Powder Sprouts

A four-week morning program for 4-year-olds. 

Powder Cats

A four-week afternoon program for 5-7 year olds. 

All Mountain Free Ride Team

A four-week program for 8-4 year olds, with intermediate to advanced skills, who are ready to ski the entire mountain and explore all types of terrain. 

Team Yeti

An eight-week, 16-session, program for 8-14 year olds emphasizing terrain park riding, etiquette and safety, as well as slopestyle competition.

Women’s Clinics

A four-week program for intermediate and advanced women on Tuesday mornings or Saturday afternoons.

Find writer Kristen Lummis at her blog, Brave Ski Mom.