When sunny, warm days dawn on Western Colorado’s Grand Valley region, outdoor enthusiasts enjoy endless recreation options for basking in another glorious afternoon. Anyone who loves the outdoors has their pick of activities, from rugged rafting excursions along the Colorado River to sublime bike rides through Palisade’s wine country.
However, one of the best ways to bask in Palisade’s scenery doesn’t require any muscles or gear; only a hearty appetite and an epicurean attitude. If you have a fondness for fresh foods straight from the farm, head to Palisade for a bountiful menu of healthy eats grown and harvested in the Grand Valley region.
Home Grown in Palisade
Palisade is one of Colorado’s richest agricultural regions, with a record growing season spanning 182 days. From late June to Halloween, local orchards, farms and vineyards produce a generous selection of organic and conventional tree-ripened vegetables and fruits, including up to 18 different varieties of mouth-watering heirloom peaches grown by Palisade farmers.
Palisade farmers are eager to showcase their agricultural bounty, and welcome “agri-tourists” seeking a closer connection to the land where their food is grown. An agri-tourism visit to the Palisade and Grand Valley region can be as simple as a weekend bicycle excursion from one produce stand to another, or as educational as working as a temporary farmhand at a local Community Supported Agriculture farm (CSA).
About 75 small family farms and 19 wineries thrive in Palisade because of the sheltered location in which it lies. Nestled deep within a rugged canyon atop rich volcanic soil, this ranching and farming region enjoys one of Colorado’s “banana belt” climates complete with hot summer temperatures and less than 10 inches of rain per year.
Agricultural operations utilize a complex series of irrigation channels stocked with pure Colorado River water that nurtures their award-winning crops, which also includes a thriving wine industry that rivals those found in West Coast regions.
Begin Your Palisade Farm Tour at the Sunday Market
If a culinary workout is your idea of the perfect agri-tourism trip to Palisade, gear up at the Sunday Market, downtown at 3rd and Main. Hosted by the city of Palisade, the market’s festive atmosphere is the perfect place to spend a family-friendly afternoon between 10 am and 2 pm.
Local artisans, musicians, service organizations and of course, area farmers in attendance collectively give this market a homespun feel while offering upscale handcrafted gift items, gourmet food items, locally grown produce, grass-fed beef and game meats.
The Palisade Sunday Market is the perfect starting place to begin sampling the best food products the region has to offer, while presenting you with the opportunity to ask local growers anything you want about their crops and growing practices.
Savor Palisade Peaches
Palisade peaches are the superstars of Colorado’s fruit crops, and there’s no place better to enjoy them than right off the tree at local orchards. From mid-July through September, thousands of orchard trees droop with the weight of juicy peaches ripe for the picking.
You’ll have a hard time choosing which of the many peach orchards to visit, but you can skip that step by sampling all of them at the annual Palisade Peach Festival. Since 1909, this signature three-day August event at Riverbend Park has showcased dozens of local peach growers and produce farmers, along with performances by local musicians, performance artists and children’s performers. Over the last few years, the festival has also presented a 5k run, a parade and a “Feast in the Fields” epicurean extravaganza featuring gourmet menus spotlighting locally-grown ingredients and wines.
Indulge in Decadent Wines
Over 75 percent of Colorado’s burgeoning wine industry originates in the Palisade region. Everyone is welcome to enjoy an afternoon sampling of the Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc varietals that flourish in local vineyards. Area wine-tasting rooms offer complimentary tastings while visitors peruse on-site gift shops overflowing with local artisans’ work and gourmet food items.
Unlike more opulent and higher-priced wine tasting regions in the U.S., Palisade wineries offer an affordable, family-friendly environment with a low-key atmosphere that welcomes everyone from novices to wine aficionados.
Newcomers shouldn’t miss Colorado Wineries, the state’s oldest wine producer dating back to 1975 when the first wine grapes were planted in the region. As one of Colorado’s first champions of wine production, this family-owned operation produces up to 25,000 cases of wine including 20 different varietals and dozens of food products.
If You Go
The best time to sample Palisade’s gastronomic festivities is during the warmer months of spring and summer, but a few dozen bed and breakfasts, hotels, motels and RV parks welcome guests any time of year with accommodations ranging from rustic to extravagant.
Lodging in Palisade is an ideal choice since the community is centrally located to many other attractions in the Grand Valley region including the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Herd and Range, one of only three federally-protected wild horse territories in the U.S.
Palisade Chamber of Commerce http://palisadecoc.com
Palisade Sunday Farmers Market
Downtown Palisade near the intersection of 3rd and Main http://www.townofpalisade.org/farmers_mkt.html
Directory of Palisade Orchards http://www.palisadetourism.com/fruitorchards.php
Colorado Cellars Winery http://www.coloradocellars.com
3553 E Road
Friends of the Mustangs
(aka Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Herd and Range) http://www.friendsofthemustangs.org/
Rene Agredano enjoys sharing travel tips about Colorado – her favorite state in the U.S. – when she’s not at her mountaintop cabin retreat in Red Feather Lakes, she’s RVing around America writing from the road.
Header photo of Mount Garfield courtesy of High Country Orchards.
Photos of the Sunday Farmers’ Market courtesy of the Town of Palisade.
Photo of Palisade Peaches courtesy of Palisade Tourism.
Photo of the Mustangs courtesy of Spring Creek Wild. Photo by TJ Holmes.