Grand Avenue in Paonia, Colorado.

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


Comprised of environmentalists, new age-ers, artists, activists, as well as coal miners, organic farmers and ranchers, Paonia prides itself on its off-beat culture.

For a small town, Paonia is a bastion of progressive media, community activism and liberal thinking. Downtown Paonia boasts The High Country News, an internationally award winning environmental newspaper renown for its investigative jourinalism. KVNF (90.9 FM) is a left-leaning Paonia-based public radio station that broadcasts from Grand Junction to Lake City.

Grand Avenue in Paonia is an eclectic mix of art galleries and boutique shops, and makes for a diverting couple of hours of browsing.

It's somehow fitting that a town filled with so many aging Flower Children from the 1960s is also named after a flower. Incorporated in 1881, Paonia was named by its founder, Samuel Wade, for the peony rootstock which he brought with him by covered wagon. Wade submitted the Latin name for the flower, "Paeonia" as the official town name to the US Postal Service. Unfortunately, the Post Office wouldn't allow the extra vowel. So the name got shortened to "Paonia."

Paonia is a rich agricultural region with many orchards, organic farms and vineyards. In 2001, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms designated the mesas around Paonia as the "West Elks American Viticultural Area." At 6,417 ft (1956 m) above sea level, this wine region is amongst the highest in the world. Grapes grown in the area include Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir.

Get in

By plane

There are also airports in Denver and Grand Junction.

By car

Nestled in the North Fork Valley in Delta County, roads to Paonia from the east and the south are particularly beautiful. Paonia is 70 mi from Glenwood Springs on Colorado SR-133. If you're in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park or Curecanti National Recreation Area take SR-92 north. From Grand Junction take US-50 southeast to SR-92 east for a total of about 70 mi.

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 Paonia is only a few blocks and is easily navigated by foot. For the rest of the area, you will need a car or a bike. Paonia is just 9 mi away from Hotchkiss, home of the Delta County Fair, held every August.




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






Internet Access

Most Starbucks, 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 Sunday, November 15, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.