Explored in 1853 by Captain John W. Gunnison and originally settled by the Ute Indians, Paonia, CO today has a modern personality. The 1992 Rainbow gathering brought over 18,000 people to set up temporary quarters within the community, which is normally shared by about 1,400 people. This gathering of kindred "new age" spirits left its mark and many new residents who emphasized a return to nature. This is evidenced in the growth of in popularity of local orchards and farms such as First Fruits Organic Farms.
Growing organic fruits since 1987, First Fruits typifies the Paonia lifestyle. It boasts that it grows the most healthy and tasty tree ripened fruits including apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, apples and nectarines. Most notably, you'll find that the products are grown without pesticides. This small farm of less than 10 employees takes in approximately $500,000 a year mainly from sales of its product. Note that since products fit the definition of organic, you run the risk of occasionally purchasing bruised, overripe or marked fruits. Take care to check the fruit for freshness before you purchase, whether you buy directly from First Fruits or at a Farmers' Market such as the one in Hotchkiss or Boulder, where First Fruits sells its produce.
Hotchkiss Farmers' Market
Creamery Arts Center
Enjoy finding the most tasteful fresh organic fruit and vegetables grown at local farms such as First Farms through the Hotchkiss Farmers' Market. You'll find crafts and eclectic local wares as well. It's the perfect day away from your Paonia Bed and Breakfast. Seasonally open starting in mid-spring, you'll find the Market humming between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Contact the North Fork Arts Director at the above phone number or website address for the specifics of what's happening while you're in the Paonia area.
Gunnison National Forest
PO Box 1030
Paonia, CO 81428
In order to really understand the motivation behind the natural lifestyle of the Paonia area, you must spend a day away from your Paonia Inn at Gunnison National Forest. Be prepared to enjoy 1.7 million acres in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. With 22 peaks over 13,000 feet above sea level, you're in for a treat. Trails are not limited to hikers. Even motorcycle riders can take advantage of maintained trails. Due to its location from town, make sure to be prepared with plenty of water, food, sunscreen and gasoline. Many people suffer dehydration and altitude sickness when they aren't used to the high elevation, which is why water is so important. Use sunscreen even in the winter, since the higher elevation and sunny Colorado environment will leave you burned far more quickly than on lower ground.