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Grand Avenue in Paonia, Colorado.

Paonia [19] is a town in the Northwestern part of the Rocky Mountains state of Colorado. It is the nearest town to the West Elks American Viticultural Area (AVA), part of Colorado's Wine Country and home to the highest wine vineyards in North America.


Comprised of environmentalists, new age-ers, artists, activists, as well as coal miners, organic farmers and ranchers, Paonia prides itself on its off-beat culture.

For a small town, Paonia is a bastion of progressive media, community activism and liberal thinking. Downtown Paonia boasts The High Country News [20], an internationally award winning environmental newspaper renown for its investigative journalism. KVNF (90.9 FM) [21] is a left-leaning Paonia-based public radio station that broadcasts from Grand Junction to Lake City.

Grand Avenue in Paonia is an eclectic mix of art galleries and boutique shops, and makes for a diverting couple of hours of browsing.

It's somehow fitting that a town filled with so many aging Flower Children from the 1960s is also named after a flower. Incorporated in 1881, Paonia was named by its founder, Samuel Wade, for the peony rootstock which he brought with him by covered wagon. Wade submitted the Latin name for the flower, "Paeonia" as the official town name to the US Postal Service. Unfortunately, the Post Office wouldn't allow the extra vowel. So the name got shortened to "Paonia."

Paonia is a rich agricultural region with many orchards, organic farms and vineyards. In 2001, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms designated the mesas around Paonia as the "West Elks American Viticultural Area." At 6,417 ft (1956 m) above sea level, this wine region is amongst the highest in the world. Grapes grown in the area include Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, (also known as Sardy Field) (IATA: ASE) (ICAO: KASE)), [22]. Major carriers to Aspen include United, US Airways, Delta Airlines, and Frontier Airlines. ASE is a small airport for small planes only, and traffic tends to stop in any inclement weather. Flying into Denver Airport and driving up to Aspen is more reliable and often cheaper.
  • Montrose Regional Airport [23] (IATA: MTJ), 2100 Airport Road, Phone: +1=970-249-3203, Fax: +1-970-249-2808 Regional service from Denver. Used most heavily during ski season. Cafe, vending, restrooms, car rentals.

There are also airports in Denver and Grand Junction.

  • Denver International Airport [24], (IATA: DEN, ICAO: KDEN). Commonly referred to as DIA. It is located about 20 miles to the east of downtown. Frontier Airlines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines all maintain hubs at the airport in Concourses A, B, and C respectively. Most other major domestic carriers also have service here.
  • Grand Junction Regional Airport [25], (IATA: GJT, ICAO: KGJT), otherwise known as Walker Field, is served by six airlines with nonstop service to Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Some service is seasonal.

By car[edit]

Nestled in the North Fork Valley in Delta County, roads to Paonia from the east and the south are particularly beautiful. Paonia is 70 mi from Glenwood Springs on Colorado SR-133. If you're in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park or Curecanti National Recreation Area take SR-92 north. From Grand Junction take US-50 southeast to SR-92 east for a total of about 70 mi.

By train[edit]

Amtrak [26] serves nearby Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction with the California Zephyr [27], which runs daily between Emeryville (in the San Francisco Bay Area) and Chicago. For more information, see rail travel in the US.

But once at the rail station, you will still have to rent a car.

  • Advantage Rent-A-Car‎, 2828 Walker Field Dr Grand Junction, +1-970-243-4469, [1].  edit
  • Alamo Rent-A-Car‎, 2828 Walker Field Dr Grand Junction, +1-970-243-3097, [2].  edit
  • Avis Rent-A-Car, 2828 Walker Field Dr Grand Junction, +1-970-244-9170, [3].  edit
  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car, 176 West 6th St Glenwood Springs, +1-970-945-8360, [4].  edit
  • Thrifty Car Rental‎, 175 Storm King Rd Glenwood Springs, +1-970-928-8173, [5].  edit

Get around[edit]

Downtown Paonia is only a few blocks and is easily navigated by foot. For the rest of the area, you will need a car or a bike. Paonia is just 9 mi away from Hotchkiss, home of the Delta County Fair, held every August.

See[edit][add listing]

  • The Blue Sage, 228 Grand Ave, Paonia, +1-970-527-7243 (), [6]. Community-owned performing arts center, with nationally known artists/writers performing. A valley symphony, a valley youth orchestra, various chamber groups plus contemporary music acts play at the center.  edit
  • North Fork Historical Museum, 1514 Highway 187 Paonia, +1-970-527-7440. Set in Paonia River Park, features 19th and 20th century history at the Paonia Museum and the Bowie Schoolhouse Museum call 1-970-527-7440  edit
  • Paradise Theatre, 215 Grand Ave Paonia, +1-970-527-6610 (), [7]. Funky independent movie theater dating from the 1920's. offering first and second-run movies, independent and foreign films, live entertainment, music and community events.  edit


  • Delta, Montrose, Paonia & Hotchkiss - Follow US 92 west along the Gunnison River. Turn north on US 65 and stop at the wineries along Surface Creek, on the south slope of Grand Mesa [28], the largest flattop mountain in the world. Or, travel along the North Fork of the Gunnison River on US 92 east out of Delta and then US 133. This will take you to Hotchkiss and Paonia, where you will find yourself in the West Elks AVA.
  • Grand Mesa National Scenic and Historic Byway [29] - Road traversing the world's largest flattop mountain. Begins at Cedaredge Pioneer Town Museum Welcome Center on US 65 off US 92. The Land O'Lakes Visitor Center, Land's End, and Plateau Valley Area offer fishing, hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, photography and amazing views.

Do[edit][add listing]

Mountain Biking[edit]

  • Tabeguache Trail, +1-970-244-3000, [8]. Trail crosses public land for 142 miles connecting Montrose and Grand Junction, Colorado. The Tabeguache Trail begins in Shavano Valley and weaves through the canyons, mesas and highlands of the Uncompahgre Plateau before ending in "No Thoroughfare Canyon," a few miles west of Grand Junction.  edit


  • Crawford Resevoir, +1-800-678-CAMP (). Created by Crawford Dam which crosses Iron Creek, a tributary of the Smith Fork of the Gunnison River. Fishing, boating, waterskiing, sailboarding, and swimming.  edit
  • Paonia State Park, +1-970-921-5721, [9]. 24 hours. Scenery, water-skiing, wildflowers and camping, all in view of the Ragged Mountains  edit

Winery tours[edit]

The West Elks AVA is home to many fine wineries in Colorado's Wine Country. Spend an afternoon tasting and buying local wines.

Festivals & Events[edit]

  • April - Annual Blossom Walk
  • May - Annual Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials
  • June - Crawford Pioneer Days - Crawford
  • July - Cherry Days, Dreamtime Festival [30]
  • August- Annual Wine and Dine
  • September - Mountain Harvest Festival
  • November - Barrel Tasting Thanksgiving Weekend

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Blue Sage Art Gallery & Gift Shop, 228 Grand Ave Paonia, +1-970-527-7243. Hand made gifts, fine art and jewelry.  edit
  • Elsewhere Gallery, 107 3rd Street Paonia. Mix of artists' studios and artists-in-residence. Offers local art classes. At the moment, the studios mediums include oil painting, mosaics & silk screened clothing  edit
  • Elisabethan, 111-B 1st St Paonia (Behind High Country Printing), +1-970-527-4073. Eclectic boutique features clothing and accessories for women and children made from reclaimed and vintage fabrics, jewelry, quilts and homemade jams  edit
  • Hays Drug Store‎, 224 Grand Ave Paonia, +1-970-527-4109. Old fashioned, family owned drug store sells sweats, souvenirs and t-shirts  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Flying Fork Cafe & Bakery, Corner 3rd & Main St Paonia, +1-970-527-3203, [10]. Fresh baked artisan breads and pastries. Pasta, grilled muscovy duck, beef tenderloin, daily fresh fish or homemade lasagne and ravioli. Wines from Colorado and Italy.  edit
  • Lizzy's Market‎, 101 Grand Ave, Paonia, +1-970-527-5655, [11]. An artisan processing plant serving up fresh meats for cooking, a good stop for picnic provisions for proponents of the local foods movement.  edit
  • Backcountry Bistro‎, 210 3rd Street Paonia, +1-970-393-2914. Local, Organic, Homemade foods with some great coffee  edit
  • Louie's‎, 202 Grand Ave Paonia, +1-970-527-3265. rock &roll themed pizza palace.  edit
  • Thomas Waldos‎, 238 Grand Ave Paonia, +1-970-527-5797. It Should be noted that Thomas Waldos IS A BAR. In the basement of Fiesta Vallarta, although from time to time in the summer they have a BBQ on the back patio.  edit
  • Delicious Orchards‎, 39126 Hwy 133 Paonia, +1-970-527-1110. Offers yummy comfort food and healthy snacks throughout the season. Locally sourced with vegetarian and gluten Free options always available  edit
  • The Living Farm Cafe‎, 120 Grand Ave Paonia, +1-970-527-3779. The ultimate farm to table restaurant.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • 133 Liquor, 427 Samuel Wade Rd Paonia (Turn towards Paonia at the Conoco Gas Station), +1-970-527-4575. 8a-9p M-S.  edit
  • Revolution Brewing, 325 Grand Avenue Paonia, +1-970-260-4869, [12]. 4-close, Tues-Sun. Stout, India Pale Ale, Red, and Golden ales, plus root beer and cherry soda (made with local organic cherries). The tasting room is in a former church with an attractive front porch and beer garden in the back.  edit
  • Backcountry Coffee, 210 3rd Street, (970) 527-5080. 7a-2p M-F, 7a-1p Sat.. internet access  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • A Simpler Time, 228 Onarga Paonia, +1-970-527-4999 (), [13].  edit
  • Bross Hotel, 312 Onarga St Paonia, +1-970-527-6776, [14]. An authentic 100 year old lodging, the Bross first opened in 1906 by Deputy Sheriff W. T. Bross. At the time it was considered "the only really first-class hotel in the county". Homemade quilts on the beds. Ask about the Ghost Room, haunted by the friendly ghost of Mother Bross.  edit
  • Redwood Arms Motel, +1-970-527-4148. Free wireless Internet  edit
  • Agape Farm & Retreat, 12123 Slate Point Road, +1-970-527-3385.  editA 28 acre bed and breakfast that includes a Pinot Gris vineyard, fields of red clover and wildflowers, vegetable gardens and a small beautiful Austrian pine forest. The farm offers soothing tranquil settings, beautiful views, comfortable rooms with private baths and healthy, home grown breakfasts.
  • GR Bar Ranch, +1-800-523-6832 (), [15].  edit
  • Rocky Mountain Inn, 3rd and Niagara, +1-970-527-3070, [16].  edit
  • The Living Farm Inn, 120 Grand Ave, Paonia, +1-970-527-3779, [17].  edit
  • Wisehart Springs Inn, 39508 Pitkin Road, Paonia, +1-970-527-4680, [18].  edit


Internet Access[edit]

Most Starbucks, hotels and coffee shops throughout the region offer wireless Wi-Fi access. But if you don't have a computer, try the public libraries.

  • Paonia Public Library, 140 Grand Ave 81428, +1-970-527-3470.  edit

Get out[edit]

  • Uncompahgre National Forest [34] - Over a million acres comprise some of the most spectacular views in the Rockies.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!