I made up the hashtag #MeetMeinMeeker five years ago, after we attended the Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials. I was a judge for Jammin’ Lamb Fest, a lamb cook-off. Both of these events occur in September and should be on your travel itinerary.
The town is busy this weekend, and perhaps it wasn’t the best representation of how Meeker is day-to-day. For instance, if you need crazy nightlife, this is generally a sleepy town. And, if you are looking to make a reservation at a Michelin Star restaurant, Meeker isn’t going to cut it.
However, the town does have an extra nice cheese shop, empty trails, postcard worthy scenery and craft beer, yes, craft beer.
Meekerpalooza in Meeker, Colorado
We headed to Meeker last weekend for Meekerpalooza. The town is about 3.5 hours northwest of Denver (it was about 4.5 from us in Northern Colorado).
Population 2,700 in 2020, Meeker is said to be the remotest town in Colorado. It is 50 miles from Craig, population 8,900 and 40 miles from Rifle, population 9,700. Those are the closest “big” towns.
At times, it feels remote, but other times, like during Meekerpalooza, it is electric. This community event in downtown Meeker is where Blanco Cellars runs the beer garden, a band plays, a market is set up and everyone in the town comes out to play.
The huge lawn in front of the government building in the middle of downtown, acts as host of this event. There is a statue of sheep and a sheepdog on one end and a pavilion on the other. The latter serves as the stage during events.
The market sets up along Main Street. On this visit there was pie, candy, crafts and handmade jewelry by Cozy Knits & Jewelry. Creative handmade jewelry, I picked up a pair of earrings for $15 via Venmo.
During Meekerpalooza, people set up camp chairs, teenagers throw the football, and kids run from one end of the grassy lawn to the other. With our bare feet in the grass, cold beer in-hand, and 90s country music wafting from the stage, Meekerpalooza is pure Americana.
This summer, Meekapalooza runs June 10, 17, 24, and July 15 and 22.
By the way, the beer garden is unexpectedly awesome. There is such variety because Blanco Cellars brings the booze and does an excellent job of curating creative drinks. I had a Weiss bier from Germany, and Ryan had a hard cider from Everett, Washington. There is even canned cocktails and canned wine available.
On our first evening in Meeker, we ate at Mexican House. I got #12 and it was big, really big.
If you’ve got a mighty hunger, order one meal, otherwise, I’d encourages sharing a dish (although my husband will never share so that’s why I have an endless supply of leftovers).
Hiking in Meeker, Colorado
We fueled up at Wendll’s for our hike on Saturday. Located in a house like an old school coffee shop, there is a reason this is rated the Best Breakfast in Meeker, Colorado on TripAdvisor. It IS the best breakfast in Meeker. We didn’t find that Meeker was especially cheap when it came to food (inflation is everywhere), but Wendll’s is surprisingly affordable.
We had biscuits and gravy, eggs, an egg sandwich and two coffees for under $20. We’ll definitely make this our go-to breakfast spot in Meeker. By the way, the coffee is so, so good.
Our hike started at the end of 7th Street, right in town. We chatted with some friendly folks at Meekerpalooza who recommended the China Wall Trail in Phillip & Dorcas Jensen Memorial Park. We got started around 9 a.m. This 57 acre park has multiple trails to choose from, including mountain bike options.
Our route took us up and over a flat top mountain where we enjoyed grand views of the town and surrounding countryside. Everything is green right now. Probably the greenest this area gets during the year, so I’d recommend going soon.
Fritzi spent the second half of the hike going quickly between shade spots and waiting for us there. She was one hot dog.
We saw exactly two other couples on the five-miles of trail we covered. That is something that would never happen on Colorado’s Front Range. The one thing that stuck out to me the most on this trip is that Meeker is quiet. The trails are quiet, the neighborhoods are quiet, except for the occasional barking dog, and the town is quiet.
We tend to hike a lot more when our dog is young, and therefore, we are hiking more. This, however, was the longest trail we’d been on since Xena was young, so if you’ve followed HeidiTown for a while, you know that was a long time ago.
Our route had taken us to a different spot than the one where we’d started from, so we had to hike through the neighborhood back to our truck, Fritzi panting along the way. It gave us sort of a behind the scene look at the town.
By the way, bring lots of water for yourself and your pup on this hike. We stopped numerous times for gulps and slurps of water.
I was proud of us. Although we did collapse in sweaty piles under the trees at a park on 7th before facing an uphill trek to our truck.
Shopping in Meeker, Colorado
After a trip to Clarks for milkshakes, which was conveniently located across from our hotel, we took a brief breather. I had intended to go back to town to shoot (with my camera) the car show at the Meeker Sweet Shop, but when we made it back to town the cars were gone and the Sweet Shop was closed. So, we didn’t make it to the Sweet Shop this time, but on my previous trip, it is where one of my fondest small town travel memories was made.
I browsed in Nana Goose Interiors & Gifts while Ryan and Fritzi melted on the sidewalk outside. Last time we were in this store, we bought a chair. A black wingback that the dog seems to have claimed as her own. This time, I bought a small gift for a friend who brings me eggs from her farm; a kitchen towel that reads, “My Pets Make Me Breakfast” with pictures of hens on the bottom.
A Brewery in Meeker, Colorado
After a lovely drive, that I write about below, we made our way to Smoking River Brewery, and this stop became the highlight of our trip. Not only did Fritzi sleep, which she never does at a brewery—she was done after that hike—I found a favorite beer. Of course, I’m not going to be able to get it around here.
Perhaps it was that 5.5 mile hike in the sun, but the Trout Sweater fresh hopped IPA may be the best beer I ever tasted. Okay, okay. I have had a lot of beer over the past 20+ years, and it’s probably not “the best ever” but it was so, so perfect that day and I shall dream about it.
By the way, this brewery grows their own hops, which is unique for a brewery in a state full of breweries. Also, it opened in 2021, so it’s new. I am happy that Meeker has a brewery.
The food truck, which gets fabulous reviews from the locals, didn’t disappoint. We each got The Meeker Burger which was one-half pound of gooey deliciousness. At $14, it wasn’t cheap, but I’d get it again in a heartbeat. They also make their own green chile and I’m kicking myself for not getting some on the side.
By the way, we ran into the couple we’d chatted with about the China Wall Trail at this brewery. I told you that Meeker was a small town. You get to know people here in less than 24 hours.
Visit Meeker, Colorado
I’d be remiss if I didn’t write about a few other things. When you visit, Blanco Cellars & Cheese Shop is a must-stop. The store is in a new location since I last visited, and they have a patio now called Glou Glou. The patio is where you can indulge in a canned beer and a plate of cheese or some other delight from the menu.
While you may not be able to find a fancy restaurant in Meeker, you can find some fairly fabulous foodstuff at this shop and on Glou Glou’s menu. Not only are there canned fish and oysters, but the cheese has been curated with love. Plus, Vanessa will help you pick the perfect wine or liquor to go with your charcuterie.
And lastly, we didn’t take a picnic from Blanco Cellars & Cheese Shop up river, but we should have. Our trip on County Road 8, along the Flat Tops Scenic Byway, revealed a lot of beauty. Ryan got to drive his Toyota Tacoma on some OHV roads, his favorite, and honestly, the views on this Colorado byway are worth the gas.
If you are looking for a true escape this summer, Meeker is it. This area is an outdoor dream so bringing along the dog seems right, as does camping. If you do need a motel, Elk Mountain Inn is within walking distance of downtown and Meeker and it’s dog-friendly.
Thank you to Visit Meeker, Colorado for hosting us at the Elk Mountain Inn.