Lots of breathtaking Western Slope and Grand Junction scenery shots below, but first let’s talk about some Western Slope food.
Have I mentioned that my pantry is currently void of Chow Chow? With the absence of an Eastern Colorado supplier at our Farmer’s market I’ve been threatening to make own.
Enter Lee with Decadence Cheesecakes to the rescue. I received an email asking if I’d like to sample of his newest creation, his Colorado- style Southern Chow Chow. I couldn’t type “yes” and hit the reply button fast enough. Lee has taken this southern relish to a unique level by adding some heat to kick up this relish. Ghost Pepper to be exact.
Before I get to the rest of the chow chow review, I have to say this whole Lee connection became quite a coincidence. The day I received the shipment from him I noticed the return label said “Grand Junction.” It just so happened that Bob, the dogs and I were loading up the car that very next day for a long weekend on the Western Slope. The first night we arrived, I decided to take a stroll down Grand Junction’s Historic Main Street and much to my surprise, the opening day Farmer’s Market was in full swing. And whose booth do I happen upon? You got it, Lee’s. We only talked briefly as his booth was swarmed with customers. But what I did learn was not to worry about the heat of that Ghost Pepper, as he’d specially handled it to insure only “flavor” comes through.
Lee’s Colorado Chow Chow is just plain good stuff. Vibrant in color, a little bit of tart from the tomatilla, a perfect bite of vinegar, not too sweet and with that dry smoky heat from the Ghost Pepper and tartness it was a killer topping for our hot dogs.
More fun. Lee also sent me some of his signature product, individual cheesecakes in a jar. They arrived frozen. After a couple hours thaw, we enjoyed these wonderful little treats. Thank you Lee. You should head over to his site and look at all the flavors he offers. Impressive.
It was great to be back on the Western Slope! Depending on traffic, it’s about a four hour drive from Denver to Grand Junction. A beautiful trip on I-70 passing jagged mountain peaks and ski slopes. The Colorado River guides you through the grandeur of Glenwood Canyon. Its canyon walls climb as high as 1,300 feet above the river.
Once through the canyon, you empty out onto the Western slope dessert, canyons and mesas. A few miles east of Grand Junction, we took the Cameo exit. Our mission was to do a little bird watching and look for wild Chukar, and to drive the Little Book Cliff area to perhaps catch a glimpse of our Colorado Wild Horses.
We spotted about a dozen horses, and they were hard to photograph. Like mysterious ghosts, they drifted in and out of sight in the canyon rocks. rarely coming in full view. These horses are allowed to roam the cliffs, making this magical area an even more enchanting experience.
We stayed at dog friendly Springfield Suites in Historic Downtown Grand Junction. Loved the place. Modern in decor, the spacious rooms seemed cozy and comfortable. Beds and pillows were perfect and maybe one of the best hotel showers ever.
I spent the next morning with a client and that afternoon we had plans to hit the wineries. Our western slope warm valleys and plateaus are home to our famous Colorado peaches and other fruits. Not surprising that the area would also be a good host for grapes. Colorado’s wine industry is young. Warm days, cool mountain-air nights and watered with mountain runoff, we found some brag-worthy glasses of vino.
A short drive to Palasade, we enjoyed the hospitality at the Plum Creek tasting room. With the temperature hitting 99 degrees, it was awfully nice of them to allow Remy and Zia to enjoy the air conditioned quarters. We really liked the Pinot Gris and Chardonnay and several reds including a Cabernet Sauvignon. We purchased a dozen bottles to prove it.
Next stop was Canyon Wind Cellars. You couldn’t ask for a more perfect setting to enjoy a tasting of their wine selection. A picnic table under an enormous shade tree with towering flat top mesas as a back drop, we spent quite a bit of time here.
The next morning was scheduled for a field trip to see the landscape of the Colorado National Monument. A very short drive from Grand Junction and part of our National Park System, the two hour drive offers spectacular views of sheer canyon walls cut deep into sandstone. Spectacular.
These massive rounded formations are referred to as the Coke Ovens. These Sandstone domes formed over millions of years by erosive forces including wind, water and frost.
The park offers lots of pull outs to enjoy the jaw dropping scenery.
And if your jaw was only partially open, this will show those tonsils some sunshine. A word of warning, there are a few white knuckle points along this drive.
Just outside the monument and located in the Redlands area, you’ll find Two Rivers Winery and Chateau. More than just a winery, you can host that special event here. Two Rivers is surrounded by the Colorado National Monument to the southwest, the Bookcliffs to the north, and the Grand Mesa to the east.
We met the lovely family who owns the winery. While dad poured wine at the counter, Zia held court and entertained young Finn, his mother and grandmother.
With hospitality like this, we could have easily spent the entire afternoon. But we had a mesa to drive and lakes to see.
That afternoon we enjoyed a serene drive over the Grand Mesa. The Grand Mesa is the largest flat top mountain in the world.
300 lakes are scattered along the top of the formation. The round trip drive from north to south and back west to Grand Junction took about three hours. This is a shot of the lake at the Visitor’s Center.
Lots to do in the Grand Junction area of our state. We allowed four days for this trip. It consisted of one day leisurely travel from Denver to Grand Junction, a half day visiting wineries, a half day at the Colorado National Monument an a half day drive over Grand Mesa and another leisurely drive home. Instead of taking I-70 home on a busy Sunday travel day, we opted for the longer scenic route on US-50 which took about six hours.
And again, thanks to Lee with Decadence Cheesecakes for the free samples of his products.