With the Colorado River running through the verdant valley floor and the lush Grand Mesa and stark Book Cliff formation towering above, the town of Palisade certainly isn’t lacking scenery. It’s not longing for things to see and do either. Take a long weekend this summer and explore the 12-mile-wide, 35-mile-long Grand Valley and its gem of a Western Slope town.
The Odometer: 232 miles, one-way
Eat: If you’re into fresh produce, you can eat like a king just by popping into a few of the area’s roadside stands (see “Eat More” below). If, however, you’re looking to sit down at a restaurant, we suggest the Slice O’ Life Bakery for breakfast. Their fresh breads and sweet pastries pair well with a steaming cup of coffee. For a midday meal, try the Palisade Cafe and Grill, tucked inside the hamlet’s tiny downtown area. This is solid comfort food served with a friendly smile; order the patty melt, the BLT, or the classic Rueben. Fine dining options for dinner in Palisade are…well…there really aren’t any worth trying. Instead, grab a table at the Palisade Brewing Company for a plate of pulled pork nachos or a jalapeño cheddar brisket sandwich. The hefty fare is a perfect way to prepare your stomach for post-dinner beverages.
Eat More: Palisade is, of course, widely known for its unparalleled peaches. But the fertile Grand Valley also supports pears, apricots, cherries, plums, tomatoes, and much more. Almost any road you drive down offers a roadside stand brimming with beautiful fruit. We enjoyed stops at Clark Family Orchards, Talbott Farms, and Anita’s (625 37 ¼ Road, 970-985-2282), all of which have locally grown produce plus extras like apple cider, jellies and jams, pies, pickled veggies, and so much more.
Tip: If you don’t mind your peaches looking a little less than supermarket perfect, ask for a basket of number 2 peaches. Growers often sell these ripe, slightly banged-up versions for less—and they taste exactly the same, if not better.
Drink: If you had dinner at the Palisade Brewing Company, then you were probably enticed into drinking a pint. If you ate elsewhere, pull up a bar stool—or a patio table, if it’s nice outside—to quaff one of the seven always-on-tap brews made with local ingredients where possible. We dug the Laid Back Blonde Ale and the Off Belay IPA on our visit. Should a cocktail sound more appealing to you, walk across the street to Peach Street Distillers. Pick your poison from nine locally distilled spirits, including a very tasty margarita made with the distiller’s D’Agave (pictured, right) or an old fashioned made with the Colorado Straight Bourbon.
Tip: Peach Street Distillers offers tours on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons. Make reservations on the website.
Drink More: Palisade is tucked smack into the middle of the Grand Valley American Viticultural Area. Which means, of course, there’s something to drink other than liquor and beer: wine. With more than 20 wineries and orchards in the Palisade area, there’s no shortage of tasting rooms, many of which do not require a reservation or a fee to taste. Our faves are Maison la Belle Vie Winery (pictured, right), Two Rivers Winery, Plum Creek Winery, and Grande River Vineyards, but nearly every spot we stopped at offered a heavy-handed pour and a hefty dose of local knowledge.
Tip: If you visit the area in September, you might catch harvest and crush activities, when vintners take the grapes off the vines and extract the juice.
Stay: Twenty-one acres of vineyards surround the Wine Country Inn, a 78-guestroom hotel located just a three-minute drive from downtown Palisade. The rooms have plush bedding, granite counter tops, and a refrigerator and microwave, but it’s the complimentary afternoon wine tastings, included breakfast buffet, pool area, and multiple porches and verandas with lovely views that make this inn feel like a vacation-worthy spot. Rooms start at around $170 per night, 777 Grande River Dr.