I recently read an article online where the author highlighted what he claimed were the “10 Worst Places to Live in Colorado.” It was unclear as to whether he had visited all ten towns, and as it appears he resides outside of Colorado, I am skeptical.
He wrote that he based his article on statistics, although he sprinkled non-statistic based comments throughout the piece.
The word “worst” denotes something very bad, and when the word is used to describe a place, most people would immediately check the place off their visit list. The more I thought about this, the more the article bothered me.
I’ve met the people in these communities and walked the streets of these towns, and I am here to tell you that many of the folks who live in these places are fiercely proud of their towns, and rightly so. Not only are there wonderful reasons to visit each of these Colorado towns, I believe all of them would be a great place to call home.
After some consideration, I decided to highlight some of the best things each of the towns on this “worst” list have to offer. And I have taken the liberty if of putting the following towns in alphabetical order (this is not as they appeared on the original list).
I spent a long weekend in Alamosa last winter during Rio Frio Ice Fest, an event that features a 5K race on the frozen Rio Grande River.
While there, we ate our way through town, enjoying everything from fresh tortillas to game sausage. There is an abundance of delicious, friendly and family-owned restaurants in Alamosa.
The town is home to the San Luis Brewing Company. Located in downtown Alamosa in a fabulous old bank building, this brewery makes our favorite green chile beer.
Alamosa is located 30 miles from Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, a truly magical place.
Located in the far southwest corner of Colorado. I’ve been to Cortez because it’s 14 miles from Mesa Verde National Park, where there are 5,000 known archeological sites as well as 600 cliff dwellings of Ancestral Pueblo.
Along with the vast historical significance of the area, Cortez offers incredible birding opportunities, biking, hiking, rock climbing and star gazing.
I especially remember eating a scrumptious Mexican food meal while visiting Cortez.
Delta is at the confluence of the Uncompahgre and Gunnison Rivers. The city has a rich history and many buildings are on the local or state historic register. Visitors can tour Fort Uncompahgre, a reconstruction of the original trading post that was build in 1828.
The city is known as the City of Murals because public art is on display throughout town.
Fantastic recreation destinations surround Delta such as the Dominguez/Escalante National Wilderness areas.
Grand Junction, Colorado
Grand Junction is home to one of my favorite restaurants in the entire state, Bin 707 Foodbar, and any self-described foodie should eat there at least once.
Agritourism opportunities are numerous as the city is surrounded by vineyards and orchards that give tours.
The little known Colorado National Monument is located just minutes from Grand Junction. The rock formations at the park rival much of what I’ve seen in Utah.
The only rockestra west of the Mississippi River calls Grand Junction home. The Grand Junction Rockestra performs rock and roll with a symphonic twist.
The city is covered with public art, which makes downtown Grand Junction pop with color and creativity year round.
Of all the towns on this list, I know Greeley the best. I’ve covered festivals in town and we usually attend one or two of their Friday Fest events during the summer months.
Greeley is the only town in Colorado with an open container liquor policy in downtown during Friday Fest. Its Puritan founders are likely turning over in their graves, but I believe Greeley’s “Go Cup” service is one of the most progressive policies in the state.
Greeley is home to the Rocky Mountain region’s longest running orchestra, there’s an array of interesting restaurants such as Rumi’s House of Kabob in town and at least six microbreweries (that I know of) have opened in Greeley, not to mention an excellent small batch distillery serving up spirits made with Colorado ingredients.
La Junta, Colorado
It may be tiny and rural, but La Junta is situated along the Santa Fe Trail and is home to one of the most famous forts in the west – Bent’s Old Fort.
Built in 1833, Bent’s Old Fort stood for 16 years, and was a hub of activity for explorers, adventurers and the US Army.
La Junta means junction, and for many years the town has served as a place where travelers can take a pause from their journey. One reason to pause in the region is this list of festivals that occur annually in Southeast Colorado.
La Junta borders the Comanche National Grassland where visitors can hike, bird watch and even find dinosaur tracks.
I spent a long weekend in Montrose last fall covering their Oktoberfest and have been through the town many, many times, stopping occasionally for a meal.
Montrose is home to Colorado Boy, one of our favorite pizza and beer joints in the entire state.
Montrose is also the headquarters of the Colorado Yurt Company, which we have toured. This company sends yurts around the globe. This is probably one of the coolest companies in the entire state.
In addition, Montrose is 13 miles from the entrance to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, one of the most awe inspiring national parks that I have visited. It’s especially gorgeous in the fall.
Pueblo is home of the “slopper.” An epic burger smothered in green chili. Two of Pueblo’s restaurants have been featured on The Food Network because of their famous sloppers.
Pueblo is also the site of the annual Chile & Frijoles Festival every September. Any town that celebrates chile pepper is tops in my book.
Pueblo has the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk with restaurants, river boats, movie nights and more. Not many towns in Colorado or beyond can boast a riverwalk.
I don’t think I’ve ever been to Stratmoor, Colorado, but I do know that it’s not actually a town, it’s basically a suburb of Colorado Springs. It’s located just 15 minutes from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, my favorite zoo in Colorado, so it really can’t be all that bad.I’d be perfectly content to visit this zoo every day.
I was just in Trinidad two weeks ago covering ArtoCade and I can’t wait to write an entire blog post about this fascinating town that has no right being on any Worst Town list.
As a major stop along the Santa Fe Trail, the history in Trinidad runs deep and the colorful stories are never ending (Al Capone is even rumored to have come to town).
Nearly every building in the expansive downtown area of Trinidad looks like a wedding cake.
Trinidad is home to Rino’s Italian Restaurant & Steakhouse where they have fabulous singing waiters. And one of the last two skating rinks to boast the original wood floors is also located in town.
I sincerely hope you see Colorado’s worst places to live list in a different light after reading this article.
People write “worst” lists with hits in mind. They know that inflammatory posts with “click bait” style titles will get shared on social media with little regard for anything else.
The towns on this list represent a lot of what I love the most about Colorado – unique beauty, colorful histories and friendly people.
I believe that with a little digging, every town has an interesting story to tell, and honestly, it didn’t require much digging to uncover the gems located in each of these unique Colorado communities.
Finding a place to stay in Delta County is really fun because there’s such a variety of accommodations in this area of Western Colorado. From farms to bed and breakfasts and everything in between, the only thing you’ll be hard pressed to find is a chain hotel.
Whether you’re heading over for a festival or just to explore, here are some of the interesting places that we’ve stayed during our trips to Delta County.
Bross Hotel Bed & Breakfast, Paonia, Colorado
We stayed at Bross Hotel in downtown Paonia on our most recent trip to Delta County’s North Fork Valley. This hotel is unique because it was a purpose built hotel and has remained a hotel for 110 years.
The Victorian rooms are cozy and will leave you with the feeling that you’ve traveled back to 1916, except that I expect the plumbing is much better today.
Each room at Bross comes with a delicious homemade breakfast, and don’t miss out on sipping your coffee on the expansive front balcony overlooking Onarga Avenue. I felt a bit like the Colorado version of Scarlett O’Hara on that balcony. As a bonus, Revolution Brewing is just around the corner from Bross Hotel.
Gunnison River Farms, Orchard City, Colorado
Tucked away in one the most beautiful river valleys in the world, Gunnison River Farms hosts visitors who want to get away from it all, but also want a little adventure.
This 1,000 acre property is a real working farm that grows peaches, grapes, hops, goats and much more. In addition to fruit and veggies, visitors will find petroglyphs located on Gunnison River Farms, which shows just how long humans have been attracted to this lovely river valley.
Guests can stay in one of six cabins on the property. Ours had a large screened patio that overlooked a lush green yard leading down to the Gunnison River. The wide river winds through the property like a deep blue ribbon, and is a prominent feature of any stay at Gunnison River Farms.
Accommodations come with breakfast in the main lodge and guests can sign up for fishing or raft trips, or farm tours. Guests may even sign up to work on the farm if they want to experience an authentic Colorado farm experience.
This is truly a one-of-a-kind property that includes its own air strip for guests who have private planes.
Leroux Creek Inn & Winery, Hotchkiss, Colorado
Our stay at Leroux Creek Inn & Winery in 2013, was one of the most memorable lodging experiences I’ve had as the Mayor of HeidiTown. It was so wonderful that I wrote an entire blog post about it. Read it here.
If you’ve always dreamt of staying on a vineyard, but don’t want to travel to France or California, Leroux Creek Inn & Winery is for you.
The Living Farm Inn, Paonia, Colorado
We stayed at The Living Farm Inn above The Living Farm Cafe on our 2013 trip to the North Fork Valley of Delta County. The Inn is located in downtown Paonia and features five rooms, three with private baths and two that share a bathroom.
It’s a comfy inn, and the best part is that breakfast at the cafe downstairs is included in your stay. I can say from experience that breakfast at The Living Farm Cafe is top-notch. Be sure to order the turkey eggs, because this is a rare opportunity to taste them, as I do not foresee Village Inn serving them up any time soon.
Read more about our experience at The Living Farm and The Living Farm Cafe & Inn here.
Other unique accommodations in the North Fork Valley & Delta County:
I have not stayed at these two properties, but they both look rather charming.
Stay on a goat farm!
Stay in a vineyard!
I have stayed at the above-mentioned properties thanks to Visit Delta County.
If you’re planning to celebrate the harvest season, why not do it in one of Colorado’s most bountiful areas? Mountain Harvest Festival takes place in the North Fork Valley, an area that is brimming with small family farms and vineyards.
I didn’t know about the North Fork Valley until three years ago, and the region has stolen my heart. It is located in Delta County on Colorado’s Western Slope. It’s 40 minutes east of Delta, which straddles Hwy 50, the road connecting Grand Junction and Ouray.
Farm-to-table has been part of everyday life in the North Fork Valley long before it became trendy. It is made up of three communities; Paonia, Hotchkiss and Crawford. Mountain Harvest Festival takes place in Paonia, but celebrates the entire region.
The four-day event kicks off on Thursday, September 22, with a variety of activities including a Farm-to-Table dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, The Living Farm Cafe.
Things really get going on Friday afternoon. There’s a pumpkin contest, bike parade, a Drink Locally event at Town Park and live music.
This festival is a celebration of all things local, including food, music and art. After all, the North Fork Valley isn’t only a great growing region, it’s a place where artists flourish as well, and there are a number of area art schools.
On Saturday there’s a smorgasbord of events planned. Don’t miss the Cirque Bike Farm Tours at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. We did a bike to farm tour with Cirque while we were in town earlier this summer (read all about it here). You can also do self-guided farm and winery tours while in town for the festival.
A festival farmers’ market will take place throughout the weekend and the Drink Locally event in Town Park happens Friday through Sunday. In addition, Mountain Harvest Festival has loads of live music schedule, farm-to-table dinners, yoga, bike Olympics and so much more.
Mountain Harvest Festival is a feast for the eyes, heart and stomach.
And here’s a warning: If this will be your first visit to the North Fork Valley, you may fall in love. Because what’s not to love about a region filled with vineyards, rolling hills dotted with sheep and trees heavy-laden with fruit? In a recent magazine article I dubbed the region “the land of milk and honey,” and that’s not an exaggeration.
If you’d like to experience this Delta County’s North Fork Valley to the fullest, you need to attend Mountain Harvest Festival in Paonia, Colorado.
Mountain Harvest Festival
winner of the Governor’s Award for Best Small Community Festival
September 22-25, 2016
Some events ticketed/Most events are free
Featured Festival spots on HeidiTown.com are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.
Sometimes the universe has a funny way of working things out. This is one of those instances. As some of you already know, earlier this year, The Living Farm in Paonia, Colorado named one of their spring lambs after me.
Longtime readers should be familiar with The Living Farm as I’ve written about it here on HeidiTown.com.
I was very honored by this gesture and was able to meet Heidi during my visit to Delta County at the end of July. She was a big four month old by then, not really a lamb, but more of a sheep, however, she still sat on my lap as if she’d known me her entire life.
Fast forward to two week ago when I got an email from Lynn Gillespie of The Living Farm, informing me that Heidi had been bought by a farm on the Front Range. As fate would have it, Heidi’s new home, SkyPilot Farm & Creamery is just 25 minutes from my home. It seemed written in the stars that Heidi and I should meet again. Continue reading
The best way to get acquainted with Frisco, Colorado is to spend a weekend in town, and that’s just what Ryan and I did at the end of August with our good friends Karen and Steve.
Like many of you, I’d been to Frisco dozens of times, but had never stayed in the town, and our rental unit, a Summit Mountain Rentals townhouse just off Main Street and directly across the street from the Frisco Bay Marina, was the perfect location for our weekend getaway.
Frisco is a former mining town and today, it’s still a Mecca for adventure seekers; skiers, mountain bikers, snowkiters, kayakers and more. Our agenda was a gentler kind of adventurous weekend – our plan was to hit the lake on a rented pontoon boat. Our second plan was to eat lots of good food and spend time communing with one another in our townhouse hot tub. Continue reading
As alert readers will have noticed, we’ve been riding bikes a lot this summer. I love riding bikes – not any downhill craziness, mind you – I prefer cruising on country roads or trails. Earlier this summer we did a bike to farm outing in the North Fork Valley, located in Delta County, Colorado. This is the story.
We rented bikes at Cirque Cyclery in downtown Paonia. A destination in and of itself, Cirque Cyclery is one of several awesome small businesses under the same roof.
Cirque Cyclery rents and sells bicycles, plus unique clothing and gifts, Shish KaBikes repairs bikes and Remedy Juice Bar Cafe provides refreshments, including adult beverages. The entire place, which was formerly the Paonia Post Office, has a laid back, neighborly feel. Continue reading
There is so much to do at Snow Mountain Ranch that the easier (and much shorter) blog post to write would be about the things that aren’t available here.
Snow Mountain Ranch, a YMCA of the Rockies property, is a year-round playground for kids and adults. Whether there’s two-feet of snow on the ground or it’s 80 degrees outside, this place has an activities sheet as long as my arm (and I’ve got long arms for a short girl).
I’ve written about Snow Mountain Ranch’s winter activities in this past post.
We tried to do as much as possible during a 2-night stay in Yurt Village this past June, but we only scratched the surface of what’s available here.
Biking at Snow Mountain Ranch
On our first morning, we set out on bikes from Yurt Village towards Rowley Homestead. We’re not hardcore mountain bikers – not even a bit. Thankfully, SMR has plenty of easy biking and their roads have very little traffic, although you might run into a horseback riding group from Sombrero Stables, located at SMR. Continue reading
Winter Park fits Ryan and I like an old glove. I think this is true for many Coloradans; especially Coloradans like Ryan who grew up skiing at Winter Park Resort.
I’ve been visiting for 16 years, and the town’s got a comfortable, familiar ambiance that I love.
However, if you’re anything like us, when you get comfortable with a destination you tend to visit the same places on each visit. For instance, for us, a trip to Winter Park isn’t complete without a visit to Hernando’s Pizza Pub. That’s why, on our most recent trip to this well-loved Colorado resort town, we decided to mix things up a bit and add some new locations and activities to our agenda. Continue reading
There are still two weekends left of the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series, and you don’t want to miss this authentic, Wild West showdown.
As a West Coast gal, raised in a tiny town in Washington State, I’ve been to my fair share of rodeos. And this summer I had the opportunity to attend the Pro Rodeo in Steamboat Springs as part of my Steamboat Summer Boat List trip. It didn’t disappoint. In fact, this little rodeo, that runs every Friday and Saturday night, July 17 through August 20, 2016 is one heck of a show.
Today, the town of Steamboat Springs is best-known for its champagne powder, but this ranching region of Northwest Colorado is home to more than a few real life cowboys, and there’s evidence that rodeo competitions have been taking place in town for more than 100 years. Continue reading
Not ready to let summer go? Aching to take one last summer trip? Here are some quick trip ideas sure to make a few long lasting Summer 2016 memories.
Biking is one of the Colorado activities that most reminds me of childhood. I think there was a period in my life – while I was trying to learn to ride a bike without hands – that I peddled more than I walked.
Ryan and I have been adding biking to our many Colorado travels over the last two summers; renting bikes at the various locations we visit. Most recently we rented bikes from Cirque Cyclery in Paonia and toured small farms and a winery. Continue reading