Located in Western Colorado’s West Elk Mountains, Paonia is your typical small town America. It is a friendly and beautiful place that is great for living and vacationing. Founded in the 1800s, Paonia is a farming town dedicated to organics and coal mining. The art scene is picking up to include many alternative professions and forms of entertainment. The city also has a substantial residency of developers of alternative energy; fitting for the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
Paonia is set beneath the 11,400 foot Mount Lamborn, a spectacular scene at all times of the year and a great outlet for outdoor activities. The town also nearly borders the West Elk Wilderness area, which offers amazing hiking, biking and horseback riding as well as camping and backpacking. Permits are required and the area is subject to special regulations, so check with the forest service before your trip. On the other side of Paonia are the sprawling and stunning cherry orchards, vineyards, wineries, cattle ranches and other fruit farms. These offer a great chance for tourism and visitation (plus free samples). The local products are excellent and are worth the trip.
Access to Paonia is easiest from Grand Junction, CO or Glenwood Springs, CO. From each city the drive is between one and a half to two hours through beautiful country. Denver is a longer drive at about four hours. The town is also home to a handful of restaurants, a movie theater, an airport and a town park with a gazebo stage that serves as a beautiful venue for festivals and weddings.
The town is known for its annual Cherry Days festival in celebration of the local orchards. For information on the get together, visit the Paonia chamber of commerce. http://www.paoniachamber.com/
Another great attraction is the nearby Paonia State Park which attracts nature photographers from around the country to shoot beautiful wildflowers. The aspen forests and wildlife don’t hurt either. The park’s crystalline reservoir is another great escape for fisherman and canoers alike. Camping is available in the park as well as a multitude of hiking and biking trails. http://www.parks.state.co.us/parks/paonia/Pages/PaoniaStateParkHome.aspx
When visiting, Staying at the Bross Hotel bed and breakfast is a must. It opened in 1906 and retains much of the original elegance and culture as it was built with. The hotel provides ten guest rooms each with private baths and beautiful views. Outside of the building are perennial gardens and a deck with a hot tub, perfect for relaxing on any day! The hotel is only one block from the downtown area and is just another addition to make your trip to Paonia that much better. For more information and to make reservations, visit their website: http://www.paonia-inn.com/.