It all started with some rosy, fuzzy skin.
Because really, is there anything more charming than a sun-warmed peach, all sweet and sassy, fairly bursting with delight? Not in Palisade, there isn’t.
Blessed with a seemingly perfect confluence of location, weather and water, Palisade has elevated the simple, rosy fuzz of peaches into world renown. But the trail that peaches blazed has become happily crowded with wine, lavender, outdoor recreation, alpacas, art and craft brews, and all of it encompassed in an easy-going pace that makes Palisade a highlight of any Colorado vacation.
Named for the dramatic Mancos shale palisades that line the north side of town and the longtime home of Ute tribes, the Palisade area began seeing white settlers in 1881. By 1894, they’d begun planting peach, pear, apple and cherry orchards in the area known as Vineland.
Farmers benefitted from a 1913 U.S. Bureau of Reclamation irrigation project, during which a 480-foot-wide roller dam was installed on the Colorado River just upstream from Palisade. With vastly increased access to water in what naturally is an arid spot, Palisade agriculture leaped forward in prominence.
Soon, orchards and vineyards made room for fields of lavender, restaurants and galleries, wineries, distilleries, festivals and markets. Now, Palisade is not only known for its agricultural abundance, but as a place with something for everyone.
“I think it’s just a combination of everything,” said Juliann Adams, executive director of the Palisade Chamber of Commerce. “I don’t think it’s any one thing that makes Palisade special, it’s a package deal. We have the world-famous orchards, the vineyards and award-winning wine, the scenery and how we’re kind of tucked on the east end of valley with the Bookcliffs on the north, Horse Mountain to the south, right at the base of Grand Mesa. So, Palisade is special for a combination of things.”
Thanks to the Fruit and Wine Byway, Adams said, visitors have greater access to all the good things that grow and are made in Palisade. Plus, the newly expanded Main Street — it features a continuation of an antique theme, wider sidewalks and three charging stations for electric cars — makes enjoying all downtown Palisade has to offer as carefree as a walk in the park. And Palisade Memorial Park is just down the street.
So it maybe began with the rosy fuzz of a peach, but it continues with the rosy glow of a sunset at the end of a rich day of wine and lavender, vistas and views (and of course a peach or two).
Listen to this: Grande River Vineyards’ Hear it Through the Grapevine Concert Series features music ranging from bluegrass to Latin fusion and jazz on balmy summer Saturday evenings amid the grapevines. All concerts benefit local charities.
Call 464-5867 or go to granderivervineyards.com/events-concerts for lineup and ticket information.
Get artistic: Palisade is home to a thriving arts scene, with galleries that highlight a variety of media. Make time to stop by these galleries and studios:
Blue Pig Gallery, 101 W. Third St.. Open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, the gallery frequently is home to shows and events featuring area artists. (970-464-4819, thebluepiggallery.com)
Wedel Pottery, 3815 North River Road. Open most days 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. by chance or by appointment, the gallery features work by clay artist Tim Wedel. (970-464-7795, palisadepottery.com)
Parker Pottery, 3535 G Road. Located on Palisade’s Fruit and Wine Byway, Parker Pottery features the work of artist Sue Parker. Open 9 a.m.
to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, or by appointment. (970-464-1252, parkerpottery.com)
On two wheels: One of the most scenic ways to enjoy the east end of the Grand Valley is on a bicycle. Rapid Creek Cycles, 237 S. Main Street, rents cruisers, road and mountain bikes as well as kid trailers. Cruisers are $36.15 per day, road bikes $45 per day, electric bikes are $55.60 per days and mountain bikes range between $55 and $75 per day. To rent a bike and get information about good routes for a leisurely ride, call Rapid Creek Cycles at 970-464-9266 or go rapidcreekcycles.com.
Delicious Sundays: The Palisade Sunday Market is every Sunday morning from June 14 to Sept. 20. There’s local fruits and vegetables, delectable foods made with them and the work of area artists and crafts people.
Drink up: Palisade’s reputation as a national and international center for exceptional wine continues to grow. Home to more than 14 wineries, no visit to Palisade is complete without a day on the Fruit and Wine Byway.
Download a Fruit & Wine Byway map and information about Palisade wine tours at palisadetourism.com.
Alpaca your bags: Yes, these delights of the Andes Mountains have found a bountiful home in Palisade. Plus, they’re just cute to look at, which you can do by appointment at:
SunCrest Orchard Alpacas, LLC, 3608 E 1/4 Road, which offers educational tours and fiber arts. (464-4862, suncrestorchardalpacas.net)
Dreamcatcher Alpacas, 618 34 1/2 Road, huacaya alpacas and various alpaca fiber products. (523-1729, dreamcatcheralpacas.alpacanation.com)
Shooting Star Ranch Alpacas, 598 39 Road. (464-1362)
Take a hike: Two of the most popular Palisade area trails are the Palisade Rim Trail, which includes ancient petroglyphs and amazing vistas, and Mount Garfield, a difficult hike with a panorama of the entire Grand Valley. Go to blm.gov to find information on these hikes.
River roll: The Colorado River between Palisade and Clifton is one of its most scenic stretches through the Grand Valley. Palisade River Trips offers guided group and personal tours and equipment rentals. (970-260-5848, palisaderivertrips.com)
Growing things: If there’s one thing for which Palisade is known, it’s agricultural bounty. One of the most delicious ways to enjoy Palisade is on a tour of orchards, farms and fruit and vegetable stands. Go to palisadecoc.com/co/fruit-stands-orchards for a list of possibilities and palisadetourism.com for a map.
Palisade hosts an array of festivals that highlight many of the elements that make Palisade the unforgettable place it is. Beginning with the Honeybee Festival in April, others include:
Bluegrass and Roots Festival, June 12–14 at Riverbend Park (palisademusic.com)
Lavender Festival, July 10–12, with the big event July 11 at Palisade Memorial Park (coloradolavender.org)
Peach Festival, Aug. 13–16 at Riverbend Park (palisadepeachfest. com)
Colorado Mountain Winefest, Sept. 17–20, highlighted by the Sept. 19 “Festival in the Park” at Riverbend Park (winecolorado.org/ events/mountain-winefest) Go to townofpalisade.org, palisadecoc.com or palisadetourism.com for more festival information.