Best Small Towns on Colorado’s Western Slope
Explore the uncrowded side of Colorado in small towns like Delta, Cedaredge, and Paonia.
Colorado’s Western Slope, which is the side of the state west of the Rocky Mountains, is home to incredible outdoor recreation, locally produced wines and fascinating history. The best part? In towns like Delta, Cedaredge, and Paonia you’ll find all of this with no crowds.
“Delta County is an outdoor recreation enthusiast’s dream come true”, said Darnell Place-Wise, Delta County’s tourism coordinator. “With six communities to choose from, there truly is something for everyone, from wine lovers and farm to table experience seekers, to hikers, fishermen, water adventurists, road and mountain bikers, hunters and more.”
For hikers and bikers, there are trails galore. One can’t miss adventure is the Crag Crest National Recreation Trail just up Hwy 65 from Cedaredge.
You can hike the full 10-mile loop, or wander as far as you like before turning around. Located on Grand Mesa, which is home to more than 100 lakes, you’ll hike along a narrow ridge with jaw-dropping views of the surrounding areas and enjoy aspen forests which go from beautiful to truly stunning in the fall. Mountain bikers love the Jumbo Mountain Trail System just outside of Paonia.
Home to the Gunnison River, there’s endless opportunities to get on the water here as well. Book a guided tour with Western Slope SUP in Hotchkiss and paddleboard the beautiful Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area or whitewater raft the North Fork of the Gunnison River. For a really unique experience, join a full-moon paddle during the summer months at Sweitzer Lake or Crawford State Parks.
If mountain biking and whitewater rafting aren’t enough adrenaline for you, Ultimate Skydiving Adventures, located in Delta, offers skydiving with stunning views. Tandem jumps for new divers are offered for ages seven and up, and licensed divers can jump on their own.
When you’re ready to relax after spending the day exploring the great outdoors, check out the West Elks Wine Trail in Hotchkiss and Paonia to sample wines from 10 wineries. Only have time for one stop? Azura Cellars in Paonia is a gorgeous place to enjoy a glass of wine on an outdoor patio overlooking a pond and the mountains in the distance.
In Delta, don’t miss Fort Uncompahgre on the Old Spanish National Historic Trail. You’ll step back in time to the 1820s where you’ll learn about the fur trading center that once occupied these grounds. Check for a calendar of special events where docents in period attire help you learn about the history of the area. Tours can be scheduled by calling 970-874-8349.
While seeing a movie might not have been on your vacation radar, you’re going to want to add it. Delta has two incredibly unique movie theaters. The historic Egyptian Theatre opened in 1928, and the Tru Vu Drive-In Theatre, one of eight remaining drive-in theatres in Colorado, is open April – September.
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