* Paonia, Colorado *
Nestled along the San Juan mountains is the statutory Town of Paonia. Located along the North Fork River about 10 miles from Hotchkiss, Colorado by the head of the North Fork Valley. At the base of Mount Lamborn (peak: 11,397 ft) and the Grand Mesa. Its a small town of approximately 1,497 population (year 2000 census). The area was recorded first in 1853 by Captain John W. Gunnison of the U.S. Army while searching for a suitable pass through the Rocky Mountains. Originally inhabited by the Utes until 1880 until the Government closed the Ute Indian Reservation following the infamous Meeker Massacre. Samuel Wade and William Clark settled the area after accompanying Enos Hotchkiss to the region. They incorporated the town in 1902. The town was named after Wade’s derivative term for a flower called “peony”. The region is very popular for its earth based activities and festivities such as “Cherry Days” during the fourth of July week featuring parades, carnivals, games, music, arts, and crafts. September sees the “Mountain Harvest Festival” for three days in downtown featuring music, poetry, art, chili cook off, street dance, crafts, wine tasting, and classes on sustainable living. Dreamtime Festival has been hosted in the area since 2002 combining live performances, music, educational workshops, theme camps, and art installations. Rainbow Gatherings are also held often in the area since 1992. The region is frequently populated by earth based spirituality, “New Age” faiths, and modern day hippies.