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


The Uncompahgre Valley was the ancestral home of the Ute nation. But in the late 1870s, the lure of the gold and silver deposits in the San Juan Mountains to the south proved too great for the white settler population to resist. Tensions boiled over with the Meeker Massacre in 1879. Pushed to the breaking point by the Federal government's insistence that they give up their nomadic way of life and become farmers, the Utes killed several whites and launched the so-called Ute War. Initially successful, the Utes were forcibly relocated to Utah, and Southwestern Colorado, near Cortez.

Less than a year after the Meeker Massacre, the first prospective settlers ventured into the North Fork area. They were a small group of mineral speculators from the mining town of Lake City. Led by Enos Throop Hotchkiss, who had made his money by discovering the Golden Fleece mine at Lake City, Hotchkiss's party surreptitiously scouted the valley and picked out likely homesteads while the Utes were still in possession.

Hotchkiss died in 1900, just a few months before the settlement was incorporated as a town.

Hotchkiss built its economy on land development, coal, orchards and ranching. The coal is still mined today, a hard anthracite, "clean burning" coal much in demand for power plants around the country.

A sleepy town with a classic "Main Street" row of 19th- and early 20th-century storefronts, Hotchkiss is a rich agricultural area located in the foothills of the Grand Mesa. The rich soil is perfect for growing peaches, apples, cherries, as well as grapes.

By the late 20th century, grape growers had 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 the highest vineyards in North America.

Hotchkiss is home to the Delta County Fair, a rodeo and festival held every August.

The town is just 9 mi (14 km) away from the small town of Paonia, which hosts the Cherry Days Festival every July.

Get in[edit]

There are also airports in Denver and Grand Junction.

  • Denver International Airport, (DEN IATA). Commonly referred to as DIA. It is 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 from Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Some service is seasonal.

By car[edit]

From Grand Junction, follow US 50 for 38 mi (61 km) south. Turn left at US 92 and continue for 20 mi (32 km).

From Glenwood Springs, follow US 82 for 11 mi (18 km), then turn right at US 133. Follow for 67 mi (108 km).

From Delta and Montrose, head northeast on US 92 for 20 mi (32 km).

By train[edit]

Amtrak serves nearby Glenwood Springs and 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.

Get around[edit]

Downtown Hotchkiss is divided into East and West Bridge Street in the middle of town (at 1st Street). Bridge Street is also US 92 running east-west through town. The main drag is easily navigated by foot. But to see the surrounding area, you will need a car or bike.



  • 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.


Mountain biking[edit]

  • Tabeguache Trail, +1 970-244-3000. 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.


  • Crawford Reservoir, toll-free: +1-800-678-CAMP (2267), . Created by Crawford Dam which crosses Iron Creek, a tributary of the Smith Fork of the Gunnison River. Fishing, boating, waterskiing, sailboarding, and swimming.
  • Paonia State Park, +1 970-921-5721. 24 hours. Scenery, water-skiing, wildflowers and camping, all in view of the Ragged Mountains

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]

  • February - Annual Mardi Gras in Paonia, Delta Home and Garden Show, Hotchkiss Antique & Collectible Show
  • March - Eckert Crane Days
  • May - Hotchkiss Annual Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials, Annual Art Competition and Community Garage Sales, Annual River Awareness Float Trip, Hotchkiss Lions Club Annual Car Show
  • June - North Fork Art Exhibit & Wine Tasting, Crawford Pioneer Days, Mountain Vineyard Wine Festival
  • July - Paonia Cherry Days, Dreamtime Festival, Deltarado Days
  • August - Delta County Fair
  • September - Delta Uncompahgre Blues Festival, Mountain Harvest Festival, Render the Rock Art Festival, Colorado Grand Car Show, Council Tree Pow Wow
  • October - Apple Fest in Cedaredge
  • November - Memorial Hall Fundraiser Arts & Crafts Fair, Downtown Snowflake Sale


Bridge Street is antique row in downtown Hotchkiss.


  • Bread Basket Bakery & Cafe, Hwy 133, +1 970-872-3132. Tu-Su 6AM - 2PM.
  • Coal Train Coffee House, 330 W. Bridge St #101, +1 970-872-5282. Organic and fair trade coffees, fresh roasted. Pleasant atmosphere -- red French doors wine-barrel flower pots and outdoor cafe tables.
  • Eleni's Downtown, 365 East Bridge St, +1 970-872-3532. M-Sa 11AM - 9PM.
  • North Fork Valley Restaurant, 140 West Bridge St, +1 970-872-4215. M-Sa 11AM - 9PM. Family restaurant serving American food
  • Roberts Short Stop, 180 West Bridge St, +1 970-872-4211. Su-Th 5AM-10:30PM. Pizza, subs and salads
  • Zack's Bar-B-Q, 721 East Bridge St, +1 970-872-3199. M-Sa 6:30AM - 9PM, Su 6:30AM - 8PM. Family barbecue joint






  • Leroux Creek Inn & Vineyards, 12388 3100 Rd, +1 970-872-4746. Adobe-style inn offers peace and seclusion in the middle of 47 acres of private land. Views of the surrounding vineyard, West Elk mountains, canyons and mesas. Continental breakfast prepared with fresh fruit from the organic farms of Delta County. Restaurant serves classic French cuisine made with local ingredients. Southwestern-style rooms.



Internet access[edit]

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

Go next[edit]

This city travel guide to Hotchkiss is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.