Happy in Hotchkiss, Colorado

Happiness to me is exploring a new place, so when I was invited to Delta County in May, I was ready to make some new Colorado memories with my husband, Ryan.

Our first stop on the trip was Hotchkiss, where we stayed at the Leroux River Inn & Vineyard, an experience I wrote about here. We got in late, so spent the following day discovering the community. Hotchkiss is a great little work-a-day, agricultural town that has nice offerings for tourists.

We started out at the Coal Train Coffee Shop because I had to do a little work. It was a charming place where the gals behind the counter knew nearly everyone who came through the door.

Coal Train Coffee Shop in Hotchkiss, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

After I caught up on work, we hit the pavement to explore downtown Hotchkiss by foot. We were in town during the Sheep Dog Camp Stock Trials, which brings in out-of-towners, so locals set up garage sales everywhere. If you like garage sailing, this would be a good weekend to visit Hotchkiss.

We’d noticed The Creamery Art Center when we’d arrived the day before and wanted to check it out. This large, former creamery is now one of the best and most entertaining community art centers that I’ve visited.

The Creamery Art Center in Hotchkiss, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

The Creamery houses a lot of great, affordable art and much of it tells the story of the area. Sheep, cows and cowboys were prominently featured in the artwork that was on display while we were there. The art is changed frequently so the story could be different when you visit. Don’t miss the kids’ art room.

It seems that Hotchkiss has a healthy arts community with people of all ages doing many different kinds of art. We loved this place. My favorite artist was Rosemary Ranck who paints sheep, cows and agricultural scenes with a sort of whimsy that captures the feeling I get when I visit a real working farm. It’s the sort of magical feeling that overwhelms me when I hold a lamb or baby goat.

As we exited The Creamery, two dancing elephants caught my eye. Just outside stands this fanciful sculpture of two joyous mastodons performing a dance in the nude. No one can accuse Hotchkiss of being prudish.

dancing elephant sculpture in Hotchkiss, Colorado.

We made our way to the Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials and paid our $5 entry fee. The trials proved to be a very serious business. Competitors from Colorado and beyond were there to display the skills of their highly trained border collies.

As we watched it became apparent that while the dogs are incredibly smart, things don’t always go as planned while trying to herd a naughty flock of sheep back and forth across a huge field. Still, despite a few missteps, to say that we were impressed would be an understatement.

My favorite part was watching the dogs go from solemn competitors – all business – to just another pet dog as they were released from their duties and ran to jump enthusiastically into the Collie Cooler.

The Sheep Dog Camp Stock Trials take place annually in May.

Sheep Dog Camp Stock Trials in Hotchkiss, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Collie Cooler at the Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials. HeidiTown.com

Hotchkiss’ tagline is “the friendliest town around” and I experienced nothing to disprove that quote. In fact, all the folks in the North Fork Valley are friendly.

See: It’s worth stopping by the Hotchkiss-Crawford Historical Museum. The volunteers are friendly and well-informed, so tap into their extensive knowledge to get the most out of your visit.

Eat: We ate at PJ’s Neighborhood Pub owned by Peter, the former manager of Joe Cocker (who owns a range in the area). Everyone here was super friendly, and even Peter chatted with us for a while. I highly recommend this place.

While at the Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials we shared a huge lamb fajita made by the Future Farmers of America. It was good, but the side of beans that came with the meal were the best I’d ever tasted.

 Thank you to  Visit Delta County  for hosting us on this trip.

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