Paonia 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.
Home to 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, an environmental newspaper renowned for its investigative journalism. KVNF (90.9 FM) 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. The Post Office wouldn't allow the extra vowel, so the name was 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.
- 1 Aspen-Pitkin County Airport (Sardy Field, ASE IATA). Major carriers to Aspen include United, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, 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.
- 2 Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ IATA), 2100 Airport Rd, ☏ +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.
- 3 Denver International Airport (DIA, DEN IATA). About 20 mi (32 km) 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.
- 4 Grand Junction Regional Airport (Walker Field, GJT IATA). Served by six airlines with nonstop service from Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Some service is seasonal.
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.
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 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.
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car, 176 West 6th St, Glenwood Springs, ☏ +1 970-945-8360.
- Thrifty Car Rental, 175 Storm King Rd, Glenwood Springs, ☏ +1 970-928-8173.
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 9 mi away from Hotchkiss, home of the Delta County Fair, held every August.
- [dead link] The Blue Sage, 228 Grand Ave, ☏ +1 970-527-7243, firstname.lastname@example.org. Community-owned performing arts center, with nationally known artists and writers performing. A valley symphony, a valley youth orchestra, various chamber groups plus contemporary music acts play at the center.
- North Fork Historical Museum, 1514 Highway 187, ☏ +1 970-527-7440. Set in Paonia River Park, features 19th and 20th century history at the Paonia Museum and the Bowie Schoolhouse Museum.
- Paradise Theatre, 215 Grand Ave, ☏ +1 970-527-6610, email@example.com. Funky independent movie theater dating from the 1920s. offering first and second-run movies, independent and foreign films, live entertainment, music and community events.
- 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 [formerly dead link], 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.
- 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), firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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
- April - Annual Blossom Walk
- May - Annual Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials
- June - Crawford Pioneer Days - Crawford
- July - Cherry Days, Dreamtime Festival[dead link]
- August- Annual Wine and Dine
- September - Mountain Harvest Festival
- November - Barrel Tasting Thanksgiving Weekend
- Ashley Benton Fine Art @ Studio 334, 334 Grand Ave.
- Blue Sage Art Gallery & Gift Shop, 228 Grand Ave, ☏ +1 970-527-7243. Hand made gifts, fine art and jewelry.
- Eleswhere Gallery, 107 3rd St. Mix of artists' studios and artists-in-residence. Offers local art classes. The studio's mediums include oil painting, mosaics & silk screened clothing.
- Elisabethan, 111-B 1st St (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
- Expressions Book Store, 302 2nd St, ☏ +1 970-527-6450. A general bookstore that includes a new art show every 2-3 months, pottery, local music and Putumayo CDs.
- Hays Drug Store, 224 Grand Ave, ☏ +1 970-527-4109. Old fashioned, family owned drug store sells sweats, souvenirs and t-shirts
- HunterGatherer Gallery, 217 Grand Ave, ☏ +1 970-260-4321. Displays fine arts and crafts of local artists. Monthly exhibits.
- Aspen Leaf Catering and Deli, 201 Grand Ave, ☏ +1 970-527-3355.
- Flying Fork Cafe & Bakery, Corner 3rd & Main St, ☏ +1 970-527-3203. Freshly baked artisan breads and pastries. Pasta, grilled muscovy duck, beef tenderloin, daily fresh fish or homemade lasagne and ravioli. Wines from Colorado and Italy.
- Homestead Beef, 11312 3800 Rd, ☏ +1 970-527-4350. An artisan processing plant serving up fresh meats for cooking, a good stop for picnic provisions for proponents of the local foods movement. Serving up elk, lamb, beef, produce and local specialties. Ready-to-eat entrees such as beef Stroganoff, meatloaf and red chili con carne
- Fiesta Vallarta, 240 Grand Ave, ☏ +1 970-527-4187. Mexican food and a local favorite.
- Louie's, 202 Grand Ave, ☏ +1 970-527-3265. Rock &roll themed pizza palace.
- 133 Liquor, 427 Samuel Wade Rd (turn towards Paonia at the Conoco gas station), ☏ +1 970-527-4575. M-Sa 8AM-9PM.
- Austin's Restaurant & Bar, 1215 2nd St, ☏ +1 970-527-4599.
- Revolution Brewing, 325 Grand Ave, ☏ +1 970-260-4869. Tu-Su 4PM-close. 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.
- Backcountry Coffee, 210 3rd St, ☏ +1 970 527-5080. M-F 7AM-2PM, Sa 7AM-1PM. internet access
- Thomas Waldos, 238 Grand Ave, ☏ +1 970-527-5797. In the basement of Fiesta Vallarta, although from time to time in the summer they have a BBQ on the back patio.
- A Simpler Time, 228 Onarga, ☏ +1 970-527-4999, email@example.com.
- Bross Hotel, 312 Onarga St, ☏ +1 970-527-6776. The Bross was 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.
- Fresh & Wyld Farmhouse & Gardens, ☏ +1 970-527-4374, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Knight Camp Lodge, ☏ +1 970-872-2822.
- Pitkin Mesa B&B, ☏ +1 970-527-7576.
- Suncatcher B&B, ☏ +1 970-527-5350.
- Redwood Arms Motel, ☏ +1 970-527-4148. Free wireless Internet
- Westwood Farms Country Lodge, ☏ +1 970-527-6136, email@example.com.
- Whistling Acres Guest Ranch, ☏ +1 970-527-4560, toll-free: +1-800-346-1420, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Glenwood Hots Springs Pool. A huge hot spring pool that is the signature attraction of Glenwood Springs.
- 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.