Peaches and Pastures in Western Colorado
Combine a love for agriculture and travel with visits to these vineyards, orchards and farms
If you are unfamiliar with agritourism, it’s the intersection of agriculture and tourism, and it’s probably one of my favorite segments of tourism to explore and to write about. It encompasses things like farmers’ markets, pumpkin patches and farm visits.
While agritourism has grown in Colorado over the last five years, there are certain communities that do it really, really well and are worth visiting.
Best known as the heart of Colorado wine country, Palisade is more than just wine. Located 20 minutes outside of Grand Junction, drive up the Mesa and find E ½ Road (yes, that’s really the name). These country roads above Palisade provide an opportunity to experience some of Colorado’s best agritourism businesses.
Drop in at High Country Orchards to witness a fruit-producing farm and taste wine from Colterris, a winery located 10 minutes away on 3907 North River Road. High Country Orchards contracts with Whole Foods, so it’s possible that you’ve eaten their fruit at some point.
Walk or drive the short distance through High Country Orchards to take in one of the most expansive views in the area. The scene from this overlook is the stuff Instagram dreams are made of; it can’t be missed. If you aren’t sure where to go just ask at the tasting room about the view.
Alpacas at SunCrest Orchards [Photo by Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer]
Second, hit SunCrest Orchards Alpacas & Fiber Works for a fascinating tour of their operation. The 35 alpacas that call this place home are only the start of the story crafted by Mike and Cindy McDermott. I’ve been on a lot of farm tours, and this one is truly excellent. The McDermotts process fiber from 450 farms from around the country—everything from yak hair to dog hair, although the latter is very rare.
Lavender fields at Sage Creations Organic Farm [Photo by Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer]
At nearby Sage Creations Organic Farm, take in the aromatic scents as you browse their shop and organic farm. Take a walk through the orchards that lead to the picture-perfect lavender fields. Photographers should be ready to spend some time here, as the backdrop of the Mesa creates eye-popping pictures.
All three of these Palisade stops are within minutes of one another, and there a number of farm markets and other agritourism businesses are in the area, as well.
Steer-spotting in Paonia [Photo by Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer]
Those of you familiar with The Heidi Guide have read about Paonia in the past. It is, without a doubt, my favorite spot in Colorado. As a travel writer, I feel like I shouldn’t play favorites, but then in 2013, I visited the North Fork Valley. Home of Hotchkiss, Crawford and Paonia, this little oasis left me enchanted.
Whether you bike between the farms here or drive, visiting these spots is a lovely way to spend a day in Paonia. Make a stop at Orchard Valley Farms & Black Bridge Winery to peruse their photo-worthy farm market and taste some wine. Buy a glass of your favorite and find a nice riverside spot for a sit-down.
Stop for lunch at Delicious Orchards, home of Big B’s Juices & Hard Cider. Located on the border of Paonia and Hotchkiss on Hwy 133, you can’t miss it. A walk through the orchards here is pure magic. During events at the property, they allow guests to camp among the trees.
Pop into Holy Terror Farm where they grow more than 300 chemical-free varieties of heirloom vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries, grains and beans on a historic property. They also raise cows, chickens and pastured pigs. You’ll need to call to arrange a tour.
Do not miss The Living Farm. This farm was my first introduction to agritourism, and from day one I was smitten with the place. Not only is it beautiful, this farm is a must for anyone who’d like to learn High Performance Gardening or simply have a look around a small, organic operation. Enjoy the bounty of the farm at The Living Farm Cafe in downtown Paonia.