Delta is a town in the Southwestern part of the Rocky Mountains state of Colorado. It is also in the West Elks American Viticultural Area (AVA), a part of Colorado's Wine Country and home to the highest wine vineyards in North America.
Delta is a hub for tourism and recreation, including camping, hiking, fishing, hunting and mountain bike riding. Delta is highly cognizant of preserving its history. The town has more than 20 beautiful murals depicting its fruit orchards and other past times. There are several buildings in town on the National Historic Register, including the Egyptian Theater, an "Egyptian Revival" art deco movie house from the 1920s.
In 2020, it was home to 9,000 people.
Halfway between Grand Junction and Montrose, Delta is located in an irrigated desert valley surrounded by mountains. It is the county seat for Delta County, and was named for its location on the delta of the Uncompahgre River. If you blow through town on Hwy 50, you are missing a quaint little community with a rich heritage and several sights worth seeing.
The 19th-century history of the Uncompahgre Valley is largely a rocky tale of strained race relations between white settlers and the Tabeguache branch of the Ute nation, who called the valley home.
Delta was established as a trading post at the confluence of the Uncompahgre and Gunnison Rivers (the latter alternatively called the Uncompahgre and Blue or the Eagle Tail). Built in 1828 by Antoine Robidoux, Fort Uncompahgre was neutral ground used by soldiers, traders, trappers and Native Americans. The fort lasted for 18 years and eventually came to a tragic end.
In September 1844, most of the trading post's occupants were killed in an attack by the Ute, sparked by a regional dispute that took place in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The Utes fought a rear guard action for the next 40 years, with intermittent settler encroachments on their lands. The U.S. further exacerbated the problem by trying to force the Utes to abandon their nomadic lifestyle and become farmers. The head of the government's Indian Agency, Nathan Cook Meeker, approached the Utes with a mixture of arrogance and hostility. He plowed up a Ute horse-racing track to plant a field, and later engaged in a fist fight with the owner of the race track. In 1879, Meeker telegraphed for military assistance, and the Federal government responded with around 200 soldiers to police the area. The situation was handled with mutual mistrust on both sides, and several skirmishes occurred. The crisis culminated with the Utes killing several whites at the Indian Agency (including Meeker) and launching the so-called Ute War. Initially successful, the Utes were forcibly relocated to Utah, and Southwestern Colorado, near Cortez.
The Uncompahgre Reservation was opened to settlers in the fall of 1881. George A. Crawford, founder of Grand Junction, secured a townsite from W. C. Stephens. The Uncompahgre Town and Improvement Company was established, incorporating as Delta in 1882. It was named as the county seat the following year.
The area's economy relied primarily on orchards and ranching, industries which continue to this day.
In the 20th century, the residents of Delta initiated reconciliation efforts with the Utes, founding the Ute Council Tree Pow Wow & Cultural Festival[dead link] in 1992. Located in Confluence Park at a 200 year old cottonwood tree, the council tree was the traditional gathering place and mediation spot for the Utes. The three branches of the Ute nation gather each September and celebrate with dancing, singing, Native American artwork and a reconstructed tee pee village.
Deltans further celebrate their pioneer heritage with a reconstruction of Fort Uncompaghre, a living history museum that features authentically dressed interpreters who guide you through the fort.
Delta has paleontological wonders, as well. In 1971, locals discovered dinosaur bones at nearby Dry Mesa. Twenty-three genera of Jurassic-era dinosaurs have been found in the quarry, including brachiosaurs, supersauruses and ultrasauruses. The Dry Mesa Quarry is amongst the most diverse fossil beds in North America.
In the 1990s, grape growers discovered the area's potential for raising white wine varietals, and Colorado's wine industry migrated south from Grand Junction and Palisade. The West Elks American Viticultural Area was formed in 2001. Ranging from 5,400 feet (1646 m) to 6,400 feet (1951 m) above sea level, West Elks comprises some of the highest vineyards in the world.
- Montrose Regional Airport [dead link] (MTJ IATA), 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, (DEN IATA). 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, (GJT IATA), 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.
- US 50 runs north-south through town, from Grand Junction to the north and south to Gunnison and Pueblo.
- US 92 runs east-west from Hotchkiss, Paonia and Aspen.
Amtrak serves nearby Grand Junction with the California Zephyr, 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.
- Alamo Rent-A-Car, 2828 Walker Field Dr Grand Junction, ☏ +1 970-243-3097.
- Avis Rent-A-Car, 2828 Walker Field Dr Grand Junction, ☏ +1 970-244-9170.
US 50 turns into Main St. through town. The downtown area is stretched along Main, with the center of town at 4th St. This area of shops, theaters and restaurants is easily navigated by foot. But for the larger area, you will need a car or bike.
- City of Murals, ☏ +1 970-874-8616. On several buildings you can view murals depicting local scenes by local artists. Pick up the tour guides at the Delta Visitor Center.
- Delta County Historical Museum, 251 Meeker St, ☏ +1 970-874-8721. Located in an old firehouse, the Delta County Museum features the cultural heritage and natural history of the Western Slope, including dinosaur bones from Dry Mesa Quarry; the butterfly exhibit includes some of the only-known specimens from now extinct species.
- Dry Mesa Quarry, 2250 Hwy. 50, ☏ +1 970-874-6638. Jurassic Era sauropods, pterosaurs, crocodiles, turtles, lungfish, and a prototherian mammals have been dug out of the Morrison Formation at this site
- 1 Egyptian Theatre, 452 Main St, ☏ +1 970-874-9770. Treat yourself to an old movie house experience. The 750-seat Egyptian opened on Main Street in 1928. The Egyptian was restored to its original appearance in 1996 and continues to show movies today.
- 2 Fort Uncompahgre History Museum, ☏ +1 970-874-1718, email@example.com. Open by appointment only in the winter. Recreation of 19th-century fur trading fort, with historically garbed tour guides leading the way.
- Pioneer Town, 315 SW 3rd St Cedaredge, ☏ +1 970-856-7554. Guided tours take visitors through a country store, a log cabin, blacksmith, grain silo, old-time saloon, marshall's office, the Wells-Fargo office, the jail, bank, and creamery.
- 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, 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. 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.
- Devil's Thumb Golf Club, 9900 Devil's Thumb Dr, ☏ +1 970-874-6262. Described by architect Rick Phelps as a “prairie style” course, Devil's Thumb offers 5 sets of tees that make the course playable to every type of golfer. From the front tees, the course plays to 5,180 yards (457 m).
- [dead link] Bill Heddles Recreation Center, 530 Gunnison River Dr, ☏ +1 970-874-0923. Water park is the perfect way to reward children after a demanding day of sightseeing. The facility offers a swimming pool, tot pool, therapy pool, dry sauna, sun deck, children's activity room, weight room/full gym and racquetball courts
- Confluence Park, Gunnison River Dr. Home to both Fort Uncompahgre and the Ute Council Tree. Park facilities include 5 miles of trails, picnic shelters, large group pavilion, 350 seat outdoor amphitheater, skate park, band rink for rollerblading & inline hockey, 70 acre lake, tennis courts and designated wildfowl area.
- Sweitzer Lake, ☏ +1 970-921-5721, firstname.lastname@example.org. Water-ski, swim, picnic, fish, boat, bird watch, or sunbathe on the sandy shore. Picnic site available
- Visit Colorado's Wine Country. Colorado is home to more than 70 wineries and its own indigenous vineyards, the highest in North America. Wine lovers can enjoy many vineyards around Delta, and several scenic day trips to many of the small towns that grow their own grapes. These lovely little communities include Palisade, Paonia, Hotchkiss, and the city of Grand Junction.
- American Heritage Crafts, 182 Bert St, ☏ +1 970-874-0706.
- Finishing Touch Gift Shop, 435 Main St, ☏ +1 970-874-3863.
- Heirlooms For Hospice, 263 Main St # 3, ☏ +1 970-874-6266. Clothing, antiques, pictures and knickknacks
- Iron Pony Art & Antiques, 660 Main St, ☏ +1 970-874-2819.
- Johnson Richard & Richard Antiques, 6038 Townsend Rd, ☏ +1 970-874-3881.
- Trading In Time, 3475 Old Wagon Rd, ☏ +1 970-874-8988.
- Cowboy Coffee Corral, 315 W 5th St (Turn west off Main Street, three blocks on right), ☏ +1 970-874-7711. M-Sa 10AM to 6PM. Open late F until 8PM for take out and BBQ dinners. Smoked barbecue beef and pork, ribs, home-made coleslaw, potato salad, cowboy beans
- Davetos, 520 Main St, ☏ +1 970-874-8277, fax: +1 970-874-1458.
- The Eatery, 305 Main St, ☏ +1 970-874-9634. Homemade pies.
- Fiesta Vallarta, 447 Main St, ☏ +1 970-874-6877.
- Miller's Deitch Haus, 820 Hwy 92, ☏ +1 970-874-4413, fax: +1 970-901-4515.
- Moca Joe's, 352 Main St, ☏ +1 970-874-1133.
- Chilango Bar, 304 Main St, ☏ +1 970-323-5349.
- Critters Sports Bar & Grill, 220 Main St, ☏ +1 970-874-7060.
- Miss Fitz Tavern, 305 Main St, ☏ +1 970-323-6842.
- Sports Center Lounge, 1410 Valley View Dr, ☏ +1 970-874-3130.
- Wanda's Place Sports Bar, 440 Main St, ☏ +1 970-874-9017, fax: +1 970-874-8261, email@example.com.
- Moca Joe's Espresso Beverage Bar, 352 Main St, ☏ +1 970-874-1133.
- Rodeway Inn, 2124 S. Main St, ☏ +1 970-874-9726, fax: +1 970-874-4744.
- [dead link] Best Western Sundance, 903 Main St, ☏ +1 970-874-9781, toll-free: +1-800-626-1994, fax: +1 970-874-5440. Seasonal outdoor pool, hot tub. Room service, cable TV, free local telephone calls, voice mail, coffee makers, microwaves, modem lines, high speed and wireless Internet, air conditioning, blow dryers, iron and ironing boards, refrigerators. Non-smoking rooms.
- Comfort Inn, 180 W. Gunnison River Dr, ☏ +1 970-874-1000. Cable/satellite TV, free local calls, free wireless high speed Internet, hair dryer, air conditioning, coffee maker, interior corridors, iron & ironing board. Handicap, in-bath whirlpool and non-smoking rooms available
- [dead link] Westways Court Motel, 1030 S. Main St, ☏ +1 970-874-4415. Classic log cabin motor court with a retro neon sign. Established in 1946, this throw back to the past had rich pine-walled rooms with microwaves, mini-fridges, free high speed wireless internet, free local calls and cable TV. Full kitchen units & Kitchenettes available.
- Fairlamb House B & B, 700 Leon St, ☏ +1 970-874-5158, fax: +1 970-874-5151. Yellow brick house with three bedrooms, appointed in a rustic style with quilts and four poster beds.
- La Casita B & B, 21099 H Rd, ☏ +1 970-874-3244.
- Four Seasons River Inn & RV Park, 676 N Hwy 50, ☏ +1 970-874-9659, fax: +1 970-874-3501. 30 RV sites and 4 tent sites providing water, sewer and electricity. The sites provide 20, 30 or 50 Amp services. Telephone and Cable TV are also available at all full hookup locations.
- Valley Sunset RV Ranch, 1675 Hwy 92 (Located on East Hwy 92; adjacent to Safeway and Alpine Bank.), ☏ +1 970-874-0200, fax: +1 970-874-6176.
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.
- Delta County Public Library, 211 W 6th St, ☏ +1 970-874-9630.
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park - A deep, narrow gorge.
- Curecanti National Recreation Area - The visitor center is located off US 50 on the access road to Morrow Point Dam.
- Uncompahgre National Forest - Over a million acres comprise some of the most spectacular views in the Rockies.
|Routes through Delta|
|Delta, UT ← Grand Junction ←||W E||→ Olathe → Pueblo|