Paonia is home to Studio Bija Yoga.
One mile off of Highway 133, along the West Elk Loop on Colorado’s western slope, Paonia is what most of America used to be; a small town with friendly people and a more simple way of living. It was founded in the 1880s by a fruit grower. Since then it has come to include coal miners, organic and bio-dynamic farmers, early retirees and a growing number of musicians, yogis, artists, and alternative energy developers.
Paonia‘s setting beneath Mount Lamborn, standing at 11,400 feet, is nothing short of spectacular. Behind the mountain lies the West Elk Wilderness, which offers great hiking, biking and horseback riding. The valley in front of the mountain is filled with orchards, cattle ranches, horse pastures, vineyards and wineries. These businesses offer wine tasting and a variety of products made from apples, cherries, peaches, nectarines and grapes, that can be found locally.
The town also boasts a handful of restaurants, a yoga studio, movie theater, a small airport and a town park with a gazebo stage that serves as a beautiful venue for festivals and weddings. We invite you to visit Paonia, where you’ll find the small-town West, alive and still pleasantly quirky.
Paonia – A History
The Paonia area was first explored in 1853 by Captain John W. Gunnison of the United States Army. Gunnison was on an expedition to locate a suitable pass through the Rocky Mountains for the Topographical Engineers.
Paonia and its surrounding area was inhabited by Ute Indians until 1880, when the Ute Indian Reservation was closed by the federal government following the infamous Meeker Massacre.
Following the closure of the reservation, Paonia itself was settled in 1880 by Samuel Wade and William Clark, who had accompanied Enos Hotchkiss to the area. Paonia was officially incorporated in 1902 and had its first election in July of that year. The peony roots that Samuel Wade brought with him to Colorado in 1881 inspired him to submit the Latin name for peony, “Paeonia” as a town name. The post office wouldn’t allow the extra vowel, so Paeonia became Paonia. The full name of the flower is Paeonia mascula.
Vast reserves of coal lay buried in the Paonia area. The advent of the railroad made the shipping of coal economical and today, coal mining is a major industry for Paonia.
Paonia is naturally air conditioned by warm air flowing up the valley at night and cool air from the mountains during the day resulting in optimal conditions for growing cherries, apricots, grapes, peaches, plums, pears, nectarines and apples. One of the state’s oldest continuous community celebrations is Cherry Days held over the Fourth of July holiday in the Paonia town park.
Paonia is a focal point of back roads and trails leading into the forest, attracting hunters, hikers bicyclists and cross-country skiers. Few places offer such a wonderful combination of climate, scenery, lifestyle and recreation as Paonia.