Art enclaves, fruit stands bursting with cherries, and high passes crowded with wildflowers: From Carbondale to Paonia, Colorado’s State 133 makes for a colorful drive. The 60-mile route is short enough to drive easily in a day; stay near Paonia to make this a leisurely weekend from Denver.
Start out in Carbondale with a hearty breakfast of cornmeal pancakes at the Village Smithy. Then wander Main Street galleries like Kahhak Fine Arts & School, where you can watch painter Majid Kahhak at work.
Head south through the Crystal River Valley to Redstone, a town shaped in the late 1800s by coal-mining entrepreneur John Cleveland Osgood. Osgood built dozens of cottages, some of which now house shops and galleries. The Redstone Art Center is the largest; you might watch owner Beverly Goss carving in the studio.
Some of the material for Goss’s sculptures may be from the marble quarry in nearby Marble. The snowy white rock for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., also came from here.
The highway then climbs and twists over 8,755-foot McClure Pass; in July, splashes of blossoming paintbrush, lupine, and blue flax adorn the meadows. A few miles northeast of the center of Paonia is one of the highest wineries in the world–Terror Creek Winery, at 6,400 feet. Sip one of its Alsatian-style wines, such as a fine Pinot Noir, while you savor views of vines and the mountains you’ve just been through. Afterward, stop at the Flying Fork Café & Bakery to eat in the garden among the fruit trees and flowers.
Then, south of the center of Paonia, you’ll pass farm stands. Don’t miss Stahl Orchards for cherries, jams, and jellies; at Hillside Acres pick up organic produce, herbs, and flowers.
Contact chambers of commerce for Carbondale (www.carbondale.com or 970/963-1890) and Paonia (www.paoniachamber.com or 970/527-3886).
The Village Smithy. $; breakfast and lunch daily. 26 S. Third St., Carbondale; 970/963-9990.
Kahhak Fine Arts & School. 411 Main St., Carbondale; 970/704-0622.
Redstone Art Center. 173 Redstone Blvd., Redstone; 970/963-3790.
Terror Creek Winery. 11-5 Fri-Sun. 17445 Garvin Mesa Rd., Paonia; 970/527-3484.
Flying Fork Café & Bakery. $$$; lunch and dinner daily. 101 Third St., Paonia; 970/527-3203.
Stahl Orchards. 4006 O-90 Dr., Paonia; 970/527-3100.
Hillside Acres. 9-5 Sun-Tue and Thu-Fri. 4245 N Rd., Paonia; 970/527-4046.
Leroux Creek Inn & Vineyards. Adobe-style inn. From $145. 12388-3100 Rd., Hotchkiss; www.lerouxcreekinn.com or 970/872-4746.