Where to Glamp in Colorado’s North Fork Valley

This summer, rather than just going to farmers markets, I found myself romanticizing the idea of ​​staying on a farm as a relaxing getaway, petting cute livestock, and leisurely picking fruit off the trees for a snack. fresh.

So I planned to glamp in mid-August at a farm in Hotchkiss, just as the West Slope harvest season was beginning with the ripening Colorado peaches.

Hotchkiss, Paonia and Crawford form the North Fork Valley and are grouped together with the Western Slope as a whole being the orchard center of the state and where many foods grow well in the high desert climate. (Harvest began around September 1, with pear and apple picking scheduled for around the middle of the month. Check before you go.)

My AirBnB hostess at Bath Haus Farms recommended I stop by nearby Paonia to check out Pickin’ in the Park, a weekly summer event where food trucks and local breweries set up shop while visitors listen to live music at Paonia city park.

I got my first taste – literally – of what the North Fork Valley has to offer when I ordered from the Southern Belle food truck. “Tomatoes are from Abundant Life Organic Farm,” I was told without asking where the ingredients for the cookie sandwich came from. I was here partly to go to the source and pick my own fruits and vegetables.

At the Bath Haus Farm you can relax in a tent set up for ‘glamping’. (Mindy Sink, Denver Post special)

I drove southwest 10 miles to Hotchkiss where I found my glamping tent just off a dirt road on farm property. Above me was a night sky filled with stars, and ahead of me was a dark path leading to the posh outhouse with an outdoor shower.

After falling asleep to the sound of crickets screeching, I woke up the next day to the classic cock-a-doodle-do of a neighbor’s rooster with intermittent bleating from that farm’s goat. My tent had a wooden deck with stunning views across the valley to the north. I opted for the one-mile hike around the farm property which took me past pear trees (a reminder that harvest season will have many cycles), around a retention pond fed by a natural source, and return to the vegetable garden.

As I passed the main house, owner Kaitlin Bath came out and invited me to join her in picking tomatoes. “I picked up 50 pounds yesterday,” she said. Farm guests can choose to participate in this activity, depending on the season, and the kids really like to throw what can’t be eaten by humans over the fence at their chickens and ducks.

As we picked various ground tomatoes (so sweet!), heirloom tomatoes (so pretty!) and basic red tomatoes to make marinara sauce later, we talked about my urban pumpkin vines, the garden spider resident (so big!), and peach salsa possibilities.

Bath had a tip about picking peaches, so I headed to a nearby Bloomstone Farm. Generally, I prefer hotels over Airbnb accommodation options, but for a farm there is an advantage to getting local information like this. Bloomstone was an established orchard recently taken over by new ownership, so the ‘pick your own’ arrangement was not widely publicized and we had it to ourselves. Those trees were practically dripping with peach trees; we filled box after box for a fair price.

Sheep welcome visitors to Bloomstone Farm, ...
Sheep welcome visitors to Bloomstone Farm, recently taken over by new owners. (Mindy Sink, Denver Post special)

While we picked fruit, the sheep on the farm wandered around munching on the clover and keeping the underbrush manageable, but they weren’t interested in the peaches for lunch.

For my own lunch, I headed back to Paonia and the delicious orchards of Big B. This one-stop farm has it all: U-pick fruits and vegetables; A coffee; a bar with hard ciders and other drinks; a shop with locally made products, including wines; a playground for children; a variety of accommodation and camping options; and live music some nights. You’ve probably seen (or sampled) Big B juices at your local grocery store. I couldn’t resist picking more peaches here and buying some locally grown corn and green beans.

I could have happily stayed for the scheduled live music at the Big B a few hours later, but I had some goats to encounter. Western Culture Farmstead & Creamery is a small goat farm in Paonia where they make exquisite goat cheeses as well as scented lotions and soaps made from goat’s milk. You can schedule a visit, or try your luck like I did, and then be invited to walk among the goats. Owner Suanne Miller told me, “Just scratch them under the chin; they love it!”

Just before an afternoon summer thunderstorm, I explored Black Bridge Orchard on the north end of town, which still had blackberries and raspberries to pick. There are more wines and other delicacies for sale in the shop here too.

Back at Bath Haus Farm, I was able to relax in my tent for a while before joining Kaitlin Bath as she and a friend made a delicious tomato sauce and chopped peaches for a peach salsa. Sun dried tomatoes were brought in from the rain and we had a debate about using cumin in the salsa.

My hosts had recommended dinner at Mesa Winds Farm & Winery, just down the small country road lined with rows of orchards at various farms. This small but sophisticated dining experience focused on what is grown in this region, including a sampling of wines from Sauvage Spectrum in Palisade.

Dessert? A ricotta and peach cake made with local peaches from Osito Farm. Also on the menu were Mesa Winds lamb, Western Culture Farmstead goat feta and Gray Acres pastured chicken, all sourced from nearby farms and ranches.

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