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3 Nights Palisade/GJ - last minute redo of B-day trip

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Genesee, CO
posts: 520
reviews: 44
3 Nights Palisade/GJ - last minute redo of B-day trip

Had a different trip planned for my BF's Bday, but flooding has forced me to alter plans. I was lucky enough to get three nights at the Wine Country Inn in Palisade for Sunday, Sept 29th through Tuesday night (sat was sold out for room we wanted). Never really spent any time in this area (just driven right by a lot). So trying to plan a last minute trip for 3/4 days in the area. Need some help with ideas and timing, etc.

Sunday - Drive to Palisade from West Denver foothills with Stop in Vail for brunch. Arrive Palisade around 12:30 PM. Check out downtown/any shops etc. 2:00 PM Peach Street Distillery tour. Question: I hear there is a food truck at the Distillery on Sundays? True? Cravings I think is the name. Have a drink and an afternoon snack here then Check in hotel. Maybe check out one of the wineries next door to hotel. Late light Dinner at hotel.

Monday - Head early to Colorado National Monument through Fruita entrance. How long would you say to spend here to drive through and do one or two short hikes to overlooks? 3 hours about? Planning lunch at Bin707 in GJ for some some small plates. Then stop at a couple wineries on way back to Palisade ... .Hermosa; Mesa Park, and Graystone (bf likes ports .. I hear Graystone the best for ports?). Also how long does a wine tasting take in this area in general? Probably going to want a nap when get back and then thought would do his "nice" B-day dinner than night at Wine Country Inn. Anyone eaten there with the new chef?

Tuesday - Rent bikes and do one of the shorter wine loops (7 miles). Will any fruit stands still be open this late in the season? Also trying to figure out how many stops to realistically plan for the day. Want to schedule in a stop a couple hours in at Maison La Belle because I hear they have artisan cheeses and meats to snack on for a light lunch. Not sure where to eat this night, because Inaraios (sp?) in Palisade is only open W-SA. Suggestion for Grand Junction after we sleep off any residual wine buzz we didn't bike off?

Wednesday - Head home but plan on detouring through Grand Mesa for some leaf viewing/pics. Think we will just drive to lands end/lake views and then head back out same way back to I-70 instead of doing the whole loop through Paonia? But not sure ....Don't want the drive back to Denver area to be too long. Do we have a good chance of leaves still being in Peak on October 2?

Thanks for answers to any of these questions or any other input/advice! Oh and what temps to expect say at the top of Grand Mesa as well as Colorado National Monument.

Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
posts: 6,238
reviews: 97
1. Re: 3 Nights Palisade/GJ - last minute redo of B-day trip

According to this forest service ranger report, you should have an excellent chance of leaves still being at peak along the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway on October 2.

"Ranger report filed today - 9/18/2013 - for Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests"

"Peak Fall colors vary by area and elevation on our forest. This year, color changes appear to be delayed. (September 18) Most of the aspens are still green. There are pockets of yellow aspens in some high elevation locations. The willows in some valleys are starting to change. To glimpse the most color in the mountains, plan your visit for late September. The weekends of September 28 and October 5 should be peak on our forest! The cottonwoods in the valleys are usually beautiful well into October. Check out Color Sunday on the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway - September 29, 2013."

Genesee, CO
posts: 520
reviews: 44
2. Re: 3 Nights Palisade/GJ - last minute redo of B-day trip

Thanks! Sounds like good timing! And glad you pointed out fall color Sunday on the 29th, was thinking about going up to Grand Mesa on way there, but probably better to do it on the way back to avoid crowds on that Sunday.

Destination Expert
for Colorado
posts: 8,141
reviews: 112
3. Re: 3 Nights Palisade/GJ - last minute redo of B-day trip

I haven't been to Dream Café (breakfast and lunch, downtown GJ) but it is on my list since it is my son & DIL's fave. Il Bistro Italiano downtown is another place we keep getting recommendations for, so you might make that your Tuesday dinner. Or 626 on Rood.



I think the drive through Paonia might be worth the time so you can see the aspen groves along McClure Pass.

Fruita, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Fruita, Grand Junction
posts: 4,516
reviews: 185
4. Re: 3 Nights Palisade/GJ - last minute redo of B-day trip

I'm not a wine fancier and I spend most of my time in Palisade shopping for fruit/vegetables or going to the excellent Slice of Life bakery. tripadvisor.com/…REVIEWS

On Sunday I would drive south of Glenwood Spgs. towards Aspen and see the world famous Maroon Bells area or go towards McClure Pass. Turn around and then go north back to Glenwood (the view will be splendid both ways) and get back onto I-70 and head into Palisade. It won't take that much longer but the colors will be spectacular. travelenvogue.com/specials-and-reviews/view/…


I also love the Dream Cafe. Great food and always good service. Downtown GJ also has some very nice Art on the Corner (over 100 outdoor sculptures). http://www.downtowngj.org/aotc.cfm

As for visiting the Monument, 3 hrs. is plenty of time. The visitor's center is a good place to start. It has a good video and great overlook from the back porch area. I'm fortunate enough to see the Monument from my kitchen window but never tire of it. nps.gov/colm/…Plan-Your-Visit-2011-2.pdf

I hope you have a great time here. And waiting to see the fall colors on another day besides Color Sunday will probably be a good idea, the locals love it and we go out in droves. Lots to see and do there, the small towns on the Mesa go all out with special activities and the local ski area (Powderhorn) has lots of fun activities planned too. Good deals on lift tickets so that always draws an extra crowd there.

Edited: 11:50 am, September 21, 2013
Genesee, CO
posts: 520
reviews: 44
5. Re: 3 Nights Palisade/GJ - last minute redo of B-day trip

Ok, thanks maybe we will do Grand Mesa to Paonia and through Redstone. Thanks for the tip about McClure Pass & the aspens. The first time I mapped it looked like an 1 1/2 hour longer, but then did a Google map again and it looked only a 1/2 hour longer (I think I screwed up my mapping the first time). Since it will be midweek hopefully it won't be slow traffic. So not that much difference in time.

Genesee, CO
posts: 520
reviews: 44
6. Re: 3 Nights Palisade/GJ - last minute redo of B-day trip

Thanks SusieLou. I booked the Wine Country Inn before I checked into what was open in Palisade. I have read the reviews for the slice of life bakery, maybe will pick up some treats/sandwiches to bring along on our bike wine tour on Tuesday. It is closed Su and Mo.

I would like to stop at some of the fruit markets etc. It appears that even after peach season they have apples and at least canned products? Hopefully when we get there our Inn can tell us which ones are open. Looks like we missed the last of the farmer's market though!

Regarding Maroon Bells ... That is what we did three years ago for my Bf's birthday so been there and it was gorgeous, but as I remember on fall weekends you have to take the shuttle bus on a Sunday, so I think we will skip that because it would eat up a lot of time on our way to GJ area. But do think we will try the loop from Grand Mesa to Paonia to Redstone on our way back. Never done that route, so should be fun and some new views.

Glad to hear the Colorado National Monument can be done in 3 hours or less. Should give us time in downtown GJ looking at the statutes, lunch, and maybe Enstrom candies depending on how gluttonous we feel, lol :)

Genesee, CO
posts: 520
reviews: 44
7. Re: 3 Nights Palisade/GJ - last minute redo of B-day trip

Also thank you for the recommendation for the Il Bistro Italiano ... Have to say I wasn't even going to look at it, but after reading the menu, an Italian restaurant in Colorado who actually differentiates between semolina and potato gnocchi deserves a try! My bf is a gnocchi snob :)

8. Re: 3 Nights Palisade/GJ - last minute redo of B-day trip

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