Palisade Peaches & Other Fruit
Due to its unique surrounding landscape, Palisade, Colorado has a long agricultural history in producing peaches, apples, pears, cherries, and grapes. Palisade sits at the base of the Grand Mesa and Bookcliffs, and receives warming winds from DeBeque Canyon, which alter its climate. This temperate environment is more accommodating for fruit trees that would otherwise not be nearly as successful. Aside from the vast orchards, there are many farms and vineyards as well.
Spring is the best time of year to drive through the back hills of Palisade. Peaches, apricots, and cherries are in bloom – creating endless rows of vibrant colors. Spring is also a very temperamental time, as late frosts can occur. A year’s crop can be dependent on sights unseen. That’s why so many small wind machines dot the landscape. If it looks like it might get too cold, the farmers quickly rush to turn on the wind machines to keep the frost at bay.
There are many family-owned farms that provide goods to local stores and niche shops (like Alida’s) that make and sell jams, hot sauces, pies, and dried fruit. Many of these farms are active in area farmers’ markets. Others sell their fruit nationwide, such as C&R Farms with over a hundred acres of trees. CSAs, community plots, and pay-to-pick operations are becoming more and more common.
Palisade Eateries & Spirits
Downtown is quiet and encompasses only a couple streets. There are several storefronts and restaurants – check out Slice of Life Bakery for its morning coffee and pastries or 357 Bar & Grill later in the day. Off Main Street and 3rd Street is the Blue Pig Gallery, a well-established gallery that displays local artists of various mediums – ceramic, oil, acrylic, watercolor, glass, fiber, etc. They have a gift shop as well, featuring handmade items such as jewelry and glass.
Around the corner, you’ll find Peach Street Distillers, known for their gin, vodka, and brandy. Ask anyone about Peach Street and you’ll hear about their famous Bloody Mary. Nearby is Palisade Brewing Company, featuring house-smoked meats and wings to go along with their variety of beers on tap plus a few seasonal brews. Don’t forget to try their Dirty Hippie or Hula Hoppie IPA beers while you’re there.
If you’re looking for a tasting room, take the back roads of East Orchard Mesa or follow G Road/Highway 6. Many of these vineyards also have their wine featured in stores all over the Western Slope, such as Colterris, Colorado Cellars, Meadery of the Rockies, St. Kathryns, Plum Creek, and more recently, Red Fox Cellars.
Palisade offers a few options for lodging. Wine Country Inn is nestled among 21 acres of vineyards and within walking distance of numerous wineries. And it is conveniently located off Interstate 70. Other options are the Palisade Wine Valley Inn, which is closer to downtown, or various bed and breakfasts (including the Dreamcatcher Bed & Breakfast).
Palisade Hikes & Outdoors
Opportunities to enjoy the outdoors are everywhere. Riverbend Park, popular for local events, serves as the trailhead for the Riverfront Trail (4 miles), which parallels the Colorado River. This paved trail is dog friendly and has access to a disc-golf course.
Hiking is within just a few minutes of the town center. Mt. Garfield is a steep hike (3.6 miles round trip and 2,000 vertical feet) and recommended for a morning or cool afternoon. There are two routes depending on desired difficulty, and it takes about two to three hours round trip. From its plateau there are awesome views of the Grand Valley. Another hike, though moderate, is the Palisade Rim Trail. There are two trailheads, Ute Petroglyph (6.4 miles round trip) or Rapid Creek (13 miles). The latter is the more strenuous and can take around seven hours, and the former can be done in half the time. Wildlife is plentiful.
Overall, Palisade, Colorado has a quiet, relaxed atmosphere. It’s definitely worth visiting, even for a day or two, or for an afternoon of wine tasting. And of course, in the late summer, nothing beats the taste of a freshly picked peach!