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Colorado: Powderhorn ski area to be sold at auction

Small area near Grand Junction has seen its share of financial ups and downs

Powderhorn Ski Area is located on the Grand Mesa, near Grand Junction, Colorado.

Powderhorn trail map.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — It’s not every day that a ski area goes up for sale, but Powderhorn, a small family oriented area on the Grand Mesa, near Grand Junction, is heading to the auction block August 4.

The property for sale includes four ski lifts, about 750 acres of real estate, a lodge with 16 guest rooms, as well as the mountain operations building, equipment maintenance facility, dry storage building and an administrative building. The ski area includes 600 acres of maintained terrain spread over 44 trails on national forest lands.

“We’re excited for what the future of Powderhorn can be, and we know the potential that it has, so we’re working with the leader in high-end real estate auctions to ensure a quick and positive experience for us and for the future owner,” said Steve Bailey, the CEO and president of Powderhorn. “On behalf of the current ownership and staff, we are looking forward to the transition for this gem of western Colorado.”

A spokesperson for the auction company said that, despite Powderhorn’s past financial woes, the resort has been running smoothly for more than 10 years.

“Bailey and Skalla have run the resort with no real financial issues … The two men are 70 and 73 and are ready to move towards retirement,” said Caley Newberry. “We at J. P. King primarily focus on premier and high-end properties that are not distressed, and Powderhorn is no exception to that,” she added.

According to Coloradoskihistory.com, skiing on the Grand Mesa began in the 1930s with construction of a ropetow in the Land’s End area, and then with a rope tow at Mesa Creek, outside Grand Junction.

Surveys of the Powderhorn area began in 1958 with involvement by the U.S. Forest Service, which, at the time, was actively looking for good places to develop lift-served skiing.

The area got up and running with the help of a $380,000 Small Business Administration loan to the Colorado Grand Mesa Ski Corporation. The company sold 225,000 shares of stock at $1 per share to raise additional capital.

The first  double chair was built in 1966 by Riblet, once the largest chair lift company in the world. Several Summit County areas had Riblet chairs until recently – can you name them?

Powderhorn started operating the following winter, reporting about 21,000 skier visits, short of expectations, and the ski area lost money. New terrain was added in the 1970s but financial problems resurfaced. Water rights issues hampered snowmaking and a proposal for a new ski area at Rifle was also a concern.

Texas businessman Jim Scott bought the area for $2 million in 1986 and new lifts were installed for the 1987-1988 season, but the area declared bankruptcy in 1990. Read more about the area’s history at http://www.coloradoskihistory.com/areahistory/powderhorn.html.

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