Powderhorn opens with thirteen inches of new snow

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Powderhorn Mountain Resort fired up its lifts this morning at 9 a.m. for its 45th anniversary season (and its first season under new ownership). Appropriately enough, it's a powder day: The resort is reporting thirteen inches of snow in the last 48 hours. Powderhorn is a five-hour drive from Denver, so not necessarily the first option for Front Range skiers and snowboarders, but it's worth a visit, especially on a powder day, and we're eager to see what the new owners have done with the place.

Andy Daly and brothers Ken and Tom Gart bought the resort for a song at auction in September, paying a mere $577,500 for the resort itself, plus $825,000 for a 700-acre development tract below the resort.

They've already dumped another $800,000 into improvements for the 2011/2012 season, including building a 13-foot mini halfpipe, increasing grooming capacity by 50 percent, and improving the snowmaking operation. There are also cosmetic improvements to the Sunset Grille and Base Lodge, a new fleet of kids' ski rental gear, and a new full-season rental program.

Powderhorn is one of the featured resorts in the Colorado Ski Country USA Gems program, so if you're planning on making the trip stop by any Credit Union of Colorado branch location and pick up the $10 CSCUSA Gems Card, which is good for $10 off any Powderhorn lift ticket as well as buy-one-get-one-free deals Monday through Friday, beginning January 8, and similar discounts at Arapahoe Basin, Echo Mountain, Eldora, Loveland, Monarch Mountain, Ski Cooper, SolVista, and Sunlight

And if you're a first-timer, Powderhorn and the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel are offering one of the best deals we've seen anywhere: Sign up for the Learn to Ride Series and get rentals, lift tickets and three-day lessons (January 1,2, & 3 or the weekend series, January 7, 14, & 21) for $249. Make it to all three sessions and they'll throw in a season pass good for the rest of the season.

For insider tips from the rest of Colorado's ski areas, don't miss "The Edge," Westword's Winter Activity Guide.

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