Six Ways to Soak Up Summer in Delta County, Colo.--Fun-filled Festivals, Argritourism, Outdoor Adventure all on the list in Delta County

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Delta County Tourism invites summer travelers to visit Colorado’s western slope for a vacation that has a unique flavor. Delta County boasts the perfect ingredients for a summer vacation – from orchards, wineries and ranches to outdoor recreation and fun-filled festivals. Here are just six ways to celebrate summer, Delta County style.

Photo courtesy of Steve Huntley

Delta County Tourism invites summer travelers to visit Colorado’s western slope for a vacation that has a unique flavor. Delta County boasts the perfect ingredients for a summer vacation – from orchards, wineries and ranches to outdoor recreation and fun-filled festivals. Here are just six ways to celebrate summer, Delta County style.

1. Tasty Tours and Treks
Delta County’s small farms, orchards and ranches form the backbone of Delta County – visitors can even download an agricultural tour that best suits their taste. From late June through October roadside stands treat visitors to cherries, peaches, apricots, apples and more. Grape harvest takes place between mid-August and mid-October, with most of the harvests happening in September. Visit one of the wineries or tasting rooms, or check out the two distilleries or the hard cider mill. Bison, beef, ostrich and elk are also raised and sold in Delta County.

2. Park it Here
There are enough reservoirs, parks and forests in Delta County to keep the adventurer busy for days! The Crawford, Paonia and Sweitzer Reservoirs offer great opportunities for picnicking, boating, water skiing, camping, swimming and fishing. The north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, near Crawford, features spectacular views and unprecedented heights, which you can view from the park’s many trails. The Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area offers numerous trails for hiking, biking, riding ATV’s and horseback riding. Camping, boating and Gold Medal waters are also attractions in the Gorge.

Crawford State Park offers fishing, hiking and water sports. In Paonia State Park you can camp near a babbling stream, water-ski on a mountain reservoir, or take advantage of the park’s beautiful wildflowers for a picture-perfect family photo. Confluence Park in Delta boasts a 265-acre recreational haven dedicated to trails, a bike path, picnic sites, fishing lakes, river access and a fitness course.

The Grand Mesa National Forest, West Elk Wilderness Area and the Uncompahgre National Forest are also part of Delta County. Hunting, fishing, backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, camping and horseback riding are all available.

3. Reel Fun
There are many places in Delta County to cast your line. The Gunnison, Uncompahgre and North Fork Rivers are an angler’s paradise. The Gunnison River runs through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area to provide more than 30 miles of Gold Medal trout fishing. There are more than 300 lakes on Grand Mesa, providing ample room to find your own favorite fishing hole. And, the Hotchkiss National Fish Hatchery is a great place for kids to see fish up close and learn about their habitat. For regulations, reports and to purchase a licenses online, visit The Colorado Division of Wildlife.

4. Driving It Home
Delta County enjoys three scenic byways – Dinosaur Diamond, The West Elk Loop and The Grand Mesa National Scenic and Historic Byway. Dinosaur Diamond features the paleontology of the area – dinosaur bones, along with evidence of early man’s inhabitance and geographic timelines are all part of the experience. The West Elk Loop is a 205-mile trek that links the recreational, historical and conservationist aspects of Delta County’s communities. The Grand Mesa National Scenic and Historic Byway boasts more than 300 lakes, and easy access to camping, fishing and boating.

If driving a golf ball is more your speed, check out Delta County’s two golf courses, Deer Creek Golf Course in Cedaredge and Devil’s Thumb Golf Club in Delta. Deer Creek stretches from 5,100 to 6,450 yards, allowing golfers of all abilities to test their skills. Devil’s Thumb is described as a “prairie style” course with no trees and only one water hazard.

5. Birds of a Feather Flock Together
Delta County is a birder’s paradise. Frutigrowers Reservoir, which is on the Southwest Colorado Birding Trail, is the best place on Colorado’s western slope to see water birds. Each year huge flocks of Sandhill Cranes return here on their northward migration. People flock from all over to celebrate this annual rite of spring with Eckert Crane Days, taking place over two weekends at the end of March. Shorebirds, ducks, eagles and cattle egrets are also common.

Grand Mesa is one of the largest table mountains in the world and is crowned with excellent spruce-fir forests and aspen groves. Here, birders may spot American Three-Toed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Pine Grosbeak and Red Crossbill, just about every specie of high-elevation bird and – if conditions are right – Boreal, Northern Saw-whet and Northern Pygmy owls.

6. Fun-Filled Family Festivals

June 9-11 – Crawford Pioneer Days – The weekend festivities include a parade, old- fashioned melodrama, elk calling contest and a fireworks finale.

June 17-19 – 52nd Annual Black Canyon Art Exhibit, Hotchkiss – Sponsored by the Hotchkiss Fine Arts Association, this event showcases wonderful works of art from regional artisans. Be sure to stop by to purchase your favorite piece.

July 1-3 – Paonia’s Annual Cherry Days – Showcasing the “best cherries in Colorado,” this celebration also includes a parade, arts, crafts, a carnival, music and fun for the whole family.

July 8-10 – Little Britches Rodeo, Cedaredge –This is the longest-running Little Britches Rodeo in the world. Watch as hundreds of kids, ages five to 18, compete for prizes, cash and the honor of being the best.

July 17-18 – Deltarado Days, Delta – This authentic western fiesta dates back to 1936 and includes food, live music, mule and donkey races, a rodeo, tractor pull and coal shoveling, just as a start!

About Delta County, Colo.
Delta County, Colo., is located on Colorado’s western slope at the base of Grand Mesa, one of the largest flat-top mountains in the world. An agricultural and heritage center of Colorado, the region is home to the communities of Cedaredge, Crawford, Delta, Eckert, Hotchkiss, Cory, Orchard City and Paonia.

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Gaylene Ore
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