Agri-what? Colorado agritourism & why you’ll want to take part

September 12, 2012 — 1 Comment

farm fieldAgritourism is a relatively new word, and in fact it is so new that my computer does not actually recognize it as a real word. Agritourism is one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry, but what is it?

It’s where agriculture and tourism intersect. If you’ve ever visited a working farm to buy eggs or tour their vegetable patch, or if you’ve taken your children to a corn maze or on a hay ride, you’ve participated in agritourism.

Agritourism cover a broad range of activities and includes educational, cultural and culinary events. It often involves hands-on experiences.

While most people consider Colorado a ski and adventure destination, our state was built on agriculture. Today, tourism is a big piece of the state’s economy, so bringing agriculture and tourism together just makes sense.

I’ll admit, I’ve only participated a little in agritourism, although the wine country on the Western Slope is at the top of my must-do list. Colorado’s Western Slope is a mecca for agritourism, especially as Colorado’s wine grows in popularity and reputation.

cluster of red grapesEvents like Tour de Vineyard, happening this weekend, are the perfect opportunity to participate in agritourism. This 25-mile bike ride travels through Colorado’s Wine Country, and is held just prior to the Colorado Mountain Winefest, featuring over 50 state wineries.

The Western Slope isn’t only a wine lovers paradise, they also grow all sorts of fruit and celebrate their harvest all summer and fall with music, dancing and of course, lots of delicious food.

For instance, the Mountain Harvest Festival, held the last weekend in September in Paonia, gives visitors the opportunity to meet local farmers. The festival’s website includes a page with links to two local farm tours you can take while attending the festival; one is a self-guided tour, while the other is a farm to farm bicycle tour.

RanchStaying at a dude ranch also falls in the agritourism travel category and you don’t have to go to Wyoming or Montana to find one. ColoradoRanch.com has 29 ranches listed, with activities that include cattle drives to white water rafting.

There are all types of ranch stays to choose from; you can indulge in a luxury stay, or an experience where your hands may blister and your boots will surely get dirty. Personally, I think the luxury stay sounds rather nice, although I wouldn’t mind feeding some chickens or gathering eggs in the morning.

In researching agritourism, I also found this cool website called FarmStayUS.com. It lists working farms throughout the United States where you can stay and experience rural living on either a farm, ranch or vineyard.

Another interesting way to participate right now in agritourism is visiting a “U Pick Farm.” According to Colorado.com, Berry Patch Farms in Brighton has a fall crops like apples, beets, carrots, garlic, onions, squash, pumpkins and peppers. You can even meet the farm’s chickens, ducks and pigs. See Colorado.com’s list of U Pick Farms here.

So there you have it, a quick overview of agritourism and how you can participate. I hope to have some agritourism adventures of my own next summer, and you can be sure that I will share them with you here on HeidiTown.

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