Mesa County, Colorado

We are nearing the end of our third winter in Utah, and I have finally come to terms with the fact that March is not a spring month. Each year I’ve had unrealistic expectations for March, and the past two years I’ve found myself disappointed and itching for spring a little too early. This year, I knew what to anticipate, and it’s the first time I’ve actually been pleased with the month and relished the signs of a burgeoning spring with the right amount of positivity.

But my desire to get out of Salt Lake every now and then has not decreased, so we decided to take an end-of-spring-break trip to western Colorado. Even though Colorado is a neighboring state, it isn’t very convenient for weekend trips via car. (Salt Lake is 8 driving hours from Denver.) But since we had toyed with the idea of going to Moab, we decided Grand Junction wasn’t much farther.

Looking out over the Grand Mesa from Colorado NM

Mesa County’s largest city, Grand Junction, is flanked on either side by Fruita and Palisade. We stayed in an Airbnb in Fruita with an excellent host, one of our best in a while. Dana reminded us of Couchsurfing hosts from our past. He was extremely kind, generous, and a wonderful conversationalist. He let Truman roam around his home and backyard, made us TWO meals (a killer ramen bowl and gallo pinto), and was also a traveler at heart. It reinforced why we loved using Couchsurfing and often enjoy Airbnb rooms instead of homes.

We drove down on Friday afternoon and grabbed dinner in Grand Junction before retiring fairly early. On Saturday morning we chatted with Dana for a while before stopping for breakfast burritos and coffee at Bestslope Coffee Co. in downtown Fruita. We toured Colorado National Monument in the morning, then ventured east to Palisade for wine and beer in the afternoon.

Initially we intended to visit a few wineries, but the first one was so wonderful that we ended up staying a while. Colterris is on the far eastern end of Palisade tucked into a bend of the Colorado River. I imagine when the vines are green and the lavender is blooming, their property makes a stunning contrast with the brown cliffs in the background. We did a tasting inside and then decided to buy a bottle to enjoy outside on their grassy lawn.

Colterris – from the Colorado land

We thought about trying another winery, but after Colterris all we really wanted to do was sit outside and soak up the sun. We decided Palisade Brewing might be the better setting for such an activity. Quiet at first, the brewery quickly filled with other sun worshipers and patrons of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities (which included a pipe and drum band that Truman HATED). We struck up a conversation with our neighbors who were locals and soon the sun was setting on an enjoyable day.

On Sunday morning I wanted to do a shorter hike with Truman. Our brewery pals had recommended the Palisade Rim hike – an easy loop at just under 3.5 miles RT. We didn’t strive for an early start, but managed to find ourselves mostly alone for much of the hike with more people coming up as we descended. The hike was fairly mellow; the first mile was a gradual climb up to the top of the plateau and then we made a broad loop, skirting the rim, then hiking inward to a large valley, before circling back to the descent. It was a pleasant hike although slightly muddy in places, and it felt wonderful to just be outside.

As we climbed up higher, our views got better
I-70 and the Colorado River
Palisade & the Book Cliffs
We spotted some petroglyphs

We grabbed a light lunch in town at Pressed and then started the drive back to Utah. Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to visit the area again. Palisade and Fruita were both laid-back communities with great local businesses that we wouldn’t hesitate to explore more in depth.

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