Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway
For years, Coloradoans on the highly populated “Eastern Slope” – that is, the east side of the Rocky Mountains and Continental Divide – have road tripped to the laid-back Western Slope for top-notch fruit and wine. The Grand Valley is Colorado’s orchard capital, known mostly for peaches. And increasingly, wine. And beer and distilled spirits, too. The Fruit & Wine Byway centers on Palisade, an attractive town about 10 miles east of Grand Junction and 230 miles west of Denver. Located just off I-70, Palisade is where alpine Colorado meets the desert southwest. The town sits in the shadow of Grand Mesa, known as the largest flattop mountain in the world. Closer by, the Book Cliffs culminate in magnificent Mt. Garfield. The Grand Valley is one of Colorado’s most temperate spots where warm winds blowing off the surrounding mesas create an unusual microclimate, perfect for stone fruit and grapes. Peaches have been grown here since the 1880s. Wine grapes took off some ninety years later in the 1970s. Today, the Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway meanders 20-plus miles through a patchwork of orchards and vineyards featuring some 40 wineries and fruit stands.
Best Time to Visit
April brings full bloom, late summer is prime harvest and fall means vibrant leaf-peeping and perfect wine-tasting weather. Timing varies from year-to-year so check conditions directly with the wineries, fruit stands or Visit Palisade and Visit Grand Junction.
Route & Map
From I-70, the byway wanders through Palisade and onto nearby Orchard Mesa before looping back into town.
Plan on two hours to drive and two hours to taste. If that’s wine, obviously designate a driver. And be sure to check winery and fruit stand hours and days of operation.
Palisade offers food, lodging and great local beer. Grand Junction is nearby and provides more options, including a well-served airport. At the western end of the Grand Valley near the Utah border, Fruita has world-class mountain biking.