From Biking to Festivals, to Museums, Family-Friendly Fruita Keeps Everyone Happy
When you contemplate western Colorado’s vacation destinations, Fruita may not rank among the heaviest of the heavyweights. But pound-for-pound, it packs as big a punch as any of them.
Passionate about the outdoors? Value unique experiences? Anxious for something to entertain the kids? You can satisfy all of those cravings in and around this small city that takes pride in distinguishing itself from Grand Junction and, in some cases, offering more amenities than its larger municipal companion to the east.
“I think it’s a very upbeat place, very positive,” said Robbie Urquhart, special projects coordinator for the Fruita Chamber of Commerce. “There’s a positive energy. And it’s a close-knit community. That would be my thing. It is very close-knit. People are generally happy here.”
And why wouldn’t they be? Sitting in the shadow of Colorado National Monument, Fruita boasts world-class mountain biking and a laundry list of other outdoor activities, an array of festivals and events centered around the downtown area and plenty of things to keep the young ones happy.
Farm fresh: The Fruita Farmers Market is from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays from June 28 through Sept. 20 at the Fruita Civic Center. (fruitachamber.org/ farmersmarket)
Riverside concert: The Colorado Riverfront Concert Series brings music to a grassy area along the Colorado River in the Fruita section of the James M. Robb-Colorado Riverfront State Park. The lineup: June 12, Tab Benoit; July 17, Freddy Jones Band; Aug. 14, the subdudes. (riverfrontproject.org/concert-series)
Outdoor play: Bordering the Colorado National Monument is the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, a more than 120,000-acre, Bureau of Land Management-administered playground catering to hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders and rafters.
The Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness encompasses more than half of McInnis Canyons and includes the second-largest concentration of natural arches in North America. Directions and recreation tips: blm.
Dinosaur Hill: See for yourself where Elmer Riggs discovered the bones of a 70-foot-long, 30-ton apatosaurus more than a century ago. Take Colorado Highway 340 about 1 1/2 miles south of downtown. Look for the turnoff on the east side of the highway.
Bike fests: Fruita has two festivals celebrating biking: the Fruita Fat Tire Festival at the end of April, fruitamountainbike. com; and F-Town Gear-Down in the fall, facebook.com/FtownGearDown.
Time to ride: There are good reasons why mountain biking and outdoors publications around the country consistently feature spreads on Fruita. Discover them by heading out into the desert on 18 Road north of town to the Kokopelli trails area, which is accessible from the Loma exit off Interstate 70 west of Fruita. For trail information, go to gofruita.org/biking.html.
Fruita’s downtown encompasses only about three blocks, but in there it packs two breweries, three art galleries and a small collection of restaurants and coffee shops beloved by locals. “I went out with a girlfriend on a Thursday night recently and it was packed downtown,” said Robbie Urquhart, special projects coordinator for the Fruita Chamber of Commerce.
FRUITA M U S T - D O S
Hold a note: Take a camp chair or blanket to the Thursday Night Concert Series at Fruita’s Civic Center Pavilion. The free concerts are at 7:30 p.m. every Thursday from June 5 through Aug. 14.
Mark your calendar: The Mike the Headless Chicken Festival, held every May, celebrates one particular chicken’s extraordinary will to live.
3Family-friendly dinos: Wander among skeletons and robotic dinosaurs, fossils, interactive learning centers and an active paleontology laboratory at Dinosaur Journey, 550 Jurassic Court. Open seven days a week.
Tip! The museum’s Dinosaur Days festival is held in early September.