Love skiing but not the hefty cost of taking your family on a winter vacation of this kind? Colorado’s Powderhorn is a smaller, lesser known ski destination with a lower price tag. Here’s what to expect at Powderhorn’s only ski-in, ski-out hotel on the mountain, Slope Side Inn.
Slope Side Inn at Powderhorn
Colorado has miles of fabulous downhill ski terrain, visited by thousands of visitors and locals throughout the snow season. Big name resorts demand hefty lift ticket fees and expensive lodging. However, a few hidden mountains are a bit smaller and can offer a less crowded, less expensive family ski adventure. One such destination is Colorado’s Powderhorn Ski area.
Located in Western Colorado, Powderhorn Ski area’s Slope Side Inn is the only hotel offering ski in ski out accommodations. My family recently spent a night here before hitting the slopes early the next day.
What Works For Families
- Microwave and Mini Fridge in Room
- Rooms that sleep 6 people
- Kid-friendly bunk beds
- Close parking, eliminating long treks with all your gear
- Ski-in Ski-out makes your ski day easier and more convenient
- 2 bathrooms in most rooms
- Free Wi-Fi
What Doesn’t Work For Families
- No pool or hot tub, for that apres ski soak
- Breakfast was challenging to find – only on-mountain, open option was the limited selection at the Powderhorn Ski Lodge next door
Rates vary with season, but average room costs are $-$$. I had trouble when trying to view potential reservations with their online booking site and would recommend calling to book a room.
The Slope Side Inn is located at Colorado’s Powderhorn Ski Area. It’s literally right next to the new quad lift, which Powderhorn was thrilled to have installed two winters ago. It offers the only ski in ski out hotel for this mountain.
It’s a small, modest place offering very basic, no-frills accommodations. However, the price is right and with some rooms sleeping up to 6 persons it’s a winter vacation option with a much more affordable price tag than the average Colorado Ski trip.
Staff is kept to a minimum, and at times no employees are on the premises. When we arrived at 5:30pm on a Sunday, our room keys were waiting for us in an envelope on the front counter.
The Slope Side Inn
Visiting just at the tail end of a Powderhorn Ski holiday weekend, we found it very quiet at the Slope Side Inn. A nice sized community lounge is available, with comfy couches, fireplace, and a large flat screen TV.
For no reason that we could figure out, signs in this lounge advise “No outside food or drink.” A soda machine stands in the corner. But aside from that, this is apparently a room reserved for snack-free relaxing.
An exterior door leads directly to the base of the ski area. Open cubbies are along the wall, for stashing your gear. Powderhorn skiers staying at Slope Side could easily ski in for a mid-day warm-up break from the slopes. A nice perk.
My family of four found the Slope Side Inn rooms sufficiently spacious, and we appreciated having two bathrooms. The kids always get a kick out of bunk beds at a hotel, so we were happy with the sleeping arrangements. With a full sized mattress on top and below, it could have housed four post-skiing, tired tots.
Toiletries are provided in abundance. We used the shower gel to wash our hands in the puzzling absence of bar soap.
Bring your own hair dryer, especially if you plan to shower before you go skiing for the day. Fortunately, we noticed the lack of a provided dryer on the evening of our stay. My daughter and I showered that night, to allow time for our hair to dry.
Have a Breakfast Strategy
Having a mini fridge and microwave is a nice touch. And I was relieved when I spotted the coffee maker for the next morning.
Breakfast was a little bit of a challenge, so I’d recommend having a plan in place ahead of time. I didn’t realize that in the morning food would only be offered in limited fashion, at the next door ski lodge.
One option is the town of Mesa, located just minutes from the Powderhorn Ski area. There you’ll find both an excellent diner and locally owned coffee shop. But I feel having to leave, drive to get breakfast somewhere, and then drive back to the ski resort defeats a large part of the purpose of staying slope side.
My advice is to bring along some easy breakfast items, and plan to eat something in your room before you ski out. Had we brought some milk, fruit and rolls, our morning could have gotten off to a quicker and smoother start.
Dining at Slopeside Inn and Powderhorn Ski area
Dining options at Powderhorn Ski area and the Slope Side Inn are limited, and primarily offered only during the ski day hours (around 9am – 5 pm).
The Powderhorn Pub is located upstairs at Slope Side Inn, with pizza and sandwich fare. We didn’t eat here, but the views were awesome and looked out onto the slopes. It would be a good option to keep in mind as a nicer, table service place to eat lunch during a break from the slopes.
Typical cafeteria style grub is served at the Powderhorn Ski Lodge, just a short walk away from Slope Side Inn. It’s where we ended up finding breakfast burritos and a frosted cinnamon roll to crank up our energy reserves before our family skiing adventure.
Food Backup from Nearby Mesa
Outside of these on-mountain options with limited operating hours, head to the town of Mesa. Because we recreate on the Grand Mesa often, my family are regulars at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant there. With reasonable prices and excellent food, we’ve never had a bad experience there.
Just a short 10-minute drive from Powderhorn Ski area, my top recommendation at the Wagon Wheel is the delicious, juicy, never-frozen hamburgers with a side of hand-made, beer batter onion rings.