In October 2019, we decided to take a 3-day trip to Paonia, one of Colorado's vineyard and winery areas. We had never been there before and Joe and Amanda had recommended it. On one of their road trips, they had stopped there for a day and saw the beautiful scenery and interesting wineries.
Paonia is directly West of Colorado Springs, but, due to the mountains, we had to take a roundabout, sometimes very curvy and steep route over mountain passes - 263 miles and driving time of 5 hrs. and 12 mins. without stopping, which, of course, we did quite a bit to take pictures. On the way out we took a northern route which took us over Monarch Pass (elevation 11,312 feet). Although, it was mostly clear and sunny on the way there, we were shocked to find the pass was very snowy, with steep, slippery road and fairly heavy traffic. Be sure to view the VIDEOS.
On the way to Paonia, we stopped to take pictures at the Blue Mesa Reservoir, Morrow Point Reservoir, and Crystal Reservoir in the Gunnison River in the Curecanti National Recreation Area.
While staying 3 nights in an AirBnB in Paonia, we enjoyed the quaint town, ate at local restaurants, drove around the area, took a guided tour of Solar Energy International, visited two local wineries for wine tastings, and viewed the spectacular scenery.
On our drive home, we decided to avoid the treacherous drive over Monarch Pass. So,we took a southern route using CO Rte. 114, which took us over North Cochetopa Pass, whose summit is "only" 10,135 feet. It added an additional hour of drive time, but was worth it for different scenery and a calmer drive.
Also, be sure to view the >>> 4 VIDEOS <<<