|Area Pictures: *
|The area during the late 1990's *
|Pictures from 2006
|Have you ever skied Mesa Creek? If
so, contact us with you memories.
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All Rights Reserved.
The Colorado Ski Museum
c/o Steve Lambert
* Pictures thanks to:
Pat P, Paul Hauk, Michael G, and Caroth
|The now defunct Mesa Creek Ski Resort is my favored location for making winter turns close to
Grand Junction, Colorado. To access these old mythical runs, one must don climbing skins or
snowshoes (or flounder in the powder up to your head) and start up the sledding hill past
Powderhorn Ski Resort to just below the steeper upper section. Veer to the right into the trees
and find the slanted bridge crossing Mesa Creek. Follow the most prominent track that usually
goes to the right then left of the main run. This run was called Pruess from 1942 to 1966. Pruess
is an excellent wide open, rolling and is sublimely angled. Sometimes it amasses enough snow for
cautious skiing as early as mid October!
Nearing the top of this run I often think of the original grooming machine for the old hill. The
groomer’s name was “Hoppy.” I would guess that this name should be “Choppy” because his
grooming duties consisted mostly of “chopping of the moguls that tried to form under his watch with
a stout shovel. But alas, his affectionate name was given due to his having a peg leg and I suppose
his cheerful method of skiing with this condition also lent to the appellation.
Once you have topped the roughly 1000 ft climb to the top of this run several options are made
available. To the left is track to the top of some steep runs above and lookers left of the “Force
Family Run,” which is a short run just lookers left of Pruess. To the right of Pruess lies the old cat
trail that climbs to a narrow hallway of trees leading right to the top of the old “Hill Run.” The run is
adorned by an old but still bright yellow road sign stating this slanted condition. Hill run
is a wry collection of braided shots through aspen and pine anchored by a twisting and turning
drainage that defies detangling until its gentle run out. When the snow covers the willows for the
season this is my favorite “inbounds” trail.
Further up the catwalk is the top of the original rope tow line. This is the steepest, narrowest, and
potentially most exciting run on the mountain. It requires good coverage to fill in the deadfall and
boulders that litter the line. If more than three tracks are laid it is best to wait for the next dump to
avoid the frustration of crossing deep ruts with little chance of escape into the thick forest looming
over this steep slot. It is amusing to think of the brave souls who clung to the tow on the steep run
to the top of the hill.
There are several glade runs just to the looker’s right of the “Tow Line.” All of these tree runs
come out on the road below the parking lot and take a short hike or a thumb ride back to the car.
For easier access, especially for snowboarders, gingerly walk out the West Bench Trail from
Jumbo Lake Trailhead. Try to avoid wrecking the cross country tracks. Stay to the right past the
cabins. The trail splits up after about a ½ mile. Take the right fork, just after the trails merge back
together again the trail begins to swing more westerly and shadows the rounded edge of the bench
toward Powderhorn. 300 or so yards after the merge one must find or make a trail to the right or
north into the trees or a meadow to access the catwalk and inviting runs of the Old Mesa Creek
Resort. A fail safe way to find the runs is to stay on the trail after the merge until a large open
meadow is on the right. Cross on the right or east side of the meadow and veer hard right at the
bench below up a slight hill to the obvious cat walk leading right and east across the top of all the
One of the more infamous runs on the broad bench stretching across to the slopes of Powderhorn
Resort is the rarely filled in “South America” boulder field. It is easily recognizable by its shape, but
not easy to find.
My brother Dirk and I went in search of this run. From the top of the “Tow Line” we headed
farther up the cat trial and above left through a broad meadow to the West Bench trail. From here
we headed west out the trail to barely noticeable drainage crossing the trail about and open
field below the trail. We mistakenly stayed high and right of the drainage and instead found
ourselves just to the skiers right of on our own run we called “Southern America” due to the
relatively flat “Griddle” boulder field and down the brambles below to the road. It was fun, but not
in the classic skiing sense of the word.
For those less inclined to enjoy solitude and suffer up hills for thrills, the “Mudslides” offer faster
easier runs car shuttle style off the Grand Mesa road (Hwy 65.) These runs start from the “North
Corner” when the road tops out with a view across the Mesa Creek valley and beyond. This run is
followed hard right then hard left back to come out steeply above the pick up spot at the very first
small curve above the sled hill parking lot. The first lot offers several drop ins. The far right of the
lot I call the “Snake Run.” It comes out just lower on the road from the North Corner run.
The next run over I call the “Square” starts in the middle of the first parking lot with a narrow start
through short aspens into a short “Square” field with nice drops, then into tight trees and out to a
low angle bush whacking fiasco to the sled hill parking lot.
At the corner of the 1st parking lot starts a sweet funnel into the right side of the “Shack Run.” This
run stays in the funnel to a steep face into a scraggly deadfall funnel out, again to the
bushwhacking. The shack can also be started left on a broader slope and then back right into the
funnel avoiding serious deadfall barring runs between this and the “Mane” run.
The next shot over is a fun start into a “Little Culvert” that must be cautiously cut out to the left
above a log jam and into the trees that eventually allow exit to the lower Mane Run.
Ahhh “the Mane Run.” I refer to this local classic as a lion’s mane rather than its obvious, wide
open and well traveled status. Access the Mane by parking in the second upper parking lot and
walk back down the road till the trees give way to a broad slope. This run has the most open feel
of any of the Mudslides and is tons of let-it-rip fun. Early season and in questionable conditions, it
is best to stick to the shaded and tubular left side of the run and is typically exited left into deadfall.
The next run up the hill is the “Culvert.” It is named for the 5-15” drop-able drainage tube under
the road. The culvert continues into a fun natural half pipe feature and snakes its way right back to
the middle of the Mane run.
There is fun trees just left of the Culvert that must be exited left or right before skidding onto a huge
log jam that rarely fills in.
The “Funnel” is up an obvious run in the middle of the second lot. It trends right into a choke. Be
careful in most seasons not to get to out of hand as stumps and logs are sneaky in all the fun looking
spots. This run also runs into log jam most of the season so must be traversed left to the fringe of a
boulder field rarely in condition, then out the drainage to the upper sled hill.
At the upper corner of the second lot is access to a rarely in season set of runs. With optimal
coverage traverse hard left into the boulder strewn drainage. Follow this to several tubes and
ridges. Stay to the far right and you can gain the top of the best boulder drops available. Trend left
and a mix of trees and a hidden lines can be enjoyable but also lead to frustrating flats, especially
for snowboarders with out a ski buddy to “pole” them out.