Hotchkiss is a town in the Northwestern part of the Rocky Mountains state of Colorado. It is also a part of the West Elks American Viticultural Area (AVA), part of Colorado's Wine Country and home to the highest wine vineyards in North America.


The Uncompahgre Valley was the ancestral home of the Ute nation. But in the late 1870s, the lure of the gold and silver deposits in the San Juan Mountains to the south proved too great for the white settler population to resist. Tensions boiled over with the Meeker Massacre in 1879. Pushed to the breaking point by the Federal government's insistence that they give up their nomadic way of life and become farmers, the Utes killed several whites and launched the so-called Ute War. Initially successful, the Utes were forcibly relocated to Utah, and Southwestern Colorado, near Cortez.

Less than a year after the Meeker Massacre, the first prospective settlers ventured into the North Fork area. They were a small group of mineral speculators from the mining town of Lake City. Led by Enos Throop Hotchkiss, who had made his money by discovering the Golden Fleece mine at Lake City, Hotchkiss's party surreptitiously scouted the valley and picked out likely homesteads while the Utes were still in possession.

Hotchkiss died in 1900, just a few months before the town was officially incorporated.

Hotchkiss built its economy on land development, coal, orchards and ranching. The coal is still mined today, a hard anthracite, "clean burning" coal much in demand for power plants around the country.

A sleepy town with a classic "Main Street" row of 19th and early 20th century storefronts, Hotchkiss is a rich agricultural area located in the foothills of the Grand Mesa. The rich soil is perfect for growing peaches, apples, cherries, as well as grapes.

By the late 20th century, grape growers had discovered the area's potential for raising white wine varietals, and Colorado's wine industry migrated south from Grand Junction and Palisade. The West Elks American Viticultural Area was formed in 2001. Ranging from 5,400 feet (1646 m) to 6,400 feet (1951 m) above sea level, West Elks comprises the highest vineyards in North America.

Hotchkiss is home to the Delta County Fair, a rodeo and festival held every August.

The town is just 9 mi (14 km) away from the small town of Paonia, which hosts the Cherry Days Festival every July.

Get in

There are also airports in Denver and Grand Junction.

By car

From Grand Junction, follow US 50 for 38 mi (61 km) south. Turn left at US 92 and continue for 20 mi (32 km).

From Glenwood Springs, follow US 82 for 11 mi (18 km), then turn right at US 133. Follow for 67 mi (108 km).

From Delta and Montrose, head northeast on US 92 for 20 mi (32 km).

By train

Amtrak serves nearby Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction with the California Zephyr, which runs daily between Emeryville (in the San Francisco Bay Area) and Chicago. For more information, see rail travel in the US.

But once at the rail station, you will still have to rent a car.

Get around

Downtown Hotchkiss is divided into East and West Bridge Street in the middle of town (at 1st Street). Bridge Street is also US 92 running east-west through town. The main drag is easily navigated by foot. But to see the surrounding area, you will need a car or bike.




Mountain Biking


Winery tours

The West Elks AVA is home to many fine wineries in Colorado's Wine Country. Spend an afternoon tasting and buying local wines.

Festivals & Events


Bridge Street is antique row in downtown Hotchkiss.









Internet Access

Most hotels and coffee shops throughout the region offer wireless Wi-Fi access. But if you don't have a computer, try the public libraries.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, June 03, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.