I’m going to write a series of “small town articles.” I won’t be highlighting the usual Colorado towns that appear on all the “hot” Rocky Mountain town lists. While I love those too, for good reasons, these are the kind of small towns that do not come with built-in nightlife. These are types of communities where the nightlife consists of a knitting club gathering at the local brewery.
I have an affinity for these kinds of towns. Maybe it comes from growing up in a town of 5000, although I certainly wasn’t a fan at the time. The big city was calling and when I answered that call, after college, I found the city to be crowded and there was a lot of traffic.
Visiting small towns doesn’t always come with bragging rights or Instagram selfies in front of famous landmarks. But it does come with a certain amount of Americana.
Like at the Sweet Shop in Meeker, in the sound of local football fans at a (mostly locals) bar in Fairplay, and at the gathering of the Greatest Generation in a coffee shop in Fort Morgan.
I love getting a glimpse every everyday life for everyday people in everyday kinds of places. Perhaps it is the writer in me, but this gives my travel deeper meaning.
I encountered many of these towns in my travels; from Dumas, Texas, where we experienced a dust storm and an excellent brewery to Belle Fourche, South Dakota, one of the most patriotic little towns I have come across.
Meeker, Colorado, is less than a four-hour drive from the Denver metro area, in the northwest corner of the state. Nearby communities would be Craig, 50 minutes north, and Rifle, 45 minutes south. Grand Junction is 1 hour 45 minutes slightly southeast.
Last week, when we drove into this town of 2,400, we were greeted by flocks of turkeys and pastures of cows. I was there as a speaker at the Meeker Business Rally, hosted by the Meeker Chamber of Commerce. I gave my “Stop, Collaborate & Cheerlead” speech about loving where you live and being a cheerleader for your town.
We’ve been fans of Meeker since 2017 when I visited as a judge of the Jammin’ Lamb Festival during the Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials. Visiting was like taking a walk down Americana Lane, complete with a Norman Rockwell moment at the Meeker Sweet Shop. There was something extra special about the visit. It was on this trip that I coined #MeetMeinMeeker.
We returned in 2022, with our dog in tow. Visiting for Meekerpolooza, a summertime community party that occurs multiple times in July, again we enjoyed our trip enormously. By the way, Meekerpalooza features live bands, an outside bar, and a craft market.
With no plans other than Meekerpalooza, we managed to find a lot to do. We hiked the China Wall, drove part of the Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway, drank at GlouGlou at Blanco Cellars & Little Cheese Shop, discovered Smoking River Brewing Co., ate takeout from a little diner called Clarks, and generally had an excellent time.
This little sliver of Colorado has so much to offer, it’s rather startling. Especially if you love the outdoors. Backcountry Outpost is a good stop for anyone wishing to explore the great outdoors around Meeker, Colorado. And by the way, there’s a collection of small shops downtown that I didn’t have time to visit this time. Among them Home.Made looked like a particularly fun boutique.
Also, this is a place where dogs are welcome at many of the hotels, so do not leave Fido at home.
I’d highly recommend Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials. It’s a fascinating look at amazingly smart dogs and it is mesmerizing to watch them work. Also, Meekerpalooza is a lot of small-town fun and a good reason to head to Meeker this summer. The Meeker Skijoring Races have come and gone but would be a great reason to visit Meeker in the winter.