Delta is the seat and most populous town in west-central Colorado’s Delta County. Though it’s small, it has experienced significant population growth over the past few decades.
Delta lies between Grand Junction to the northwest and Montrose to the southeast along US Route 50; it’s set amidst some of the region’s most rugged and rural land.
It’s a particular hot spot for backcountry hikers and campers who generally prefer to spend much of their vacation time in state and national parks.
Below are 14 things to do in and around Delta that rank highly on many traveler’s itineraries.
1. Sweitzer Lake State Park
Sweitzer Lake State Park was established more than five decades ago and is one of the area’s premier outdoor recreation destinations.
The park’s centerpiece is Sweitzer Lake, which covers nearly 140 acres of surface area; it’s popular with swimmers, boaters, and fishers.
Nearly 200 species of birds are commonly seen in the park, making it a hot spot for bird lovers and amateur ornithologists from all over the region. There are also several nature trails that are only moderately difficult.
During peak times in the summer, the park and lake can get crowded, so it may not be a good fit for those looking to commune with Mother Nature in solitude.
2. Devil’s Thumb Golf Club
Delta’s Devil’s Thumb Golf Club is an 18-hole, par-72 course that plays nearly 7,000 yards from the longest tees.
For children, seniors, and women who’d prefer to shorten the yardage, a number of other tee boxes are available on each hole.
Savvy golfers consider the course one of the area’s best values, and though peak rates apply between April and September, there are often great deals for those whose schedules allow them to play in the offseason.
The club features a pro shop, practice areas, and restaurant, and tee times can be booked in advance on their easy to use website.
3. Egyptian Theater
The historic Egyptian Theater in Delta was originally built in the 1920s and features impressive architecture that most first time guests aren’t expecting to see in rural Colorado.
The theater has been renovated and updated over the years and now includes state-of-the-art sound and projection systems that make it a unique entertainment venue.
Egyptian Theater provides year-round, first-run movies, and occasionally special showings that include independent and classic films.
Though tickets may be purchased on several websites, they’re less expensive if purchased on the theater’s website or on-location.
Consider buying yours early if you plan on watching a popular movie during peak times.
4. Doghouse Espresso
Located on Main Street in Delta, Doghouse Espresso is known for its contemporary and comfortable setting, great drinks, and tasty breakfast fare.
Though big-name national coffee shops are in no short supply in Colorado, many coffee junkies prefer to give their business to locally-owned and operated businesses like Doghouse.
They’ve got everything from cappuccinos, lattes, and fraps to smoothies, chai tea, and juice, and rumor has it that their breakfast burritos, scones, and French toast are to die for.
Doghouse is open every day except Sunday and exhibits pieces from local artists, which adds to the already pleasant ambiance.
Also located on Main Street in downtown Delta, Daveto’s is a must-visit restaurant for those craving hot pizza after a long day in the harsh Colorado elements.
Daveto’s pizza comes in a number of sizes with ample topping options, and previous diners seem to agree that their dough and sauce are top-notch.
They also offer other Italian classics like chicken parmesan, traditional spaghetti, pasta alfredo, salads, and appetizers. They’re known for their reasonable prices and hefty portion sizes, which makes it the perfect choice for those traveling on a budget with lots of hungry mouths to feed.
6. Delta Farmers’ Market
Delta Farmers’ Market was established in 1989 and is held from June through September on both Saturdays and Wednesdays, from 8 AM until noon.
In addition to being the best bet for picking up fresh local fruits and vegetables, the market offers a variety of products from local entrepreneurs and artists, including prepared food items, arts and crafts, and all-natural health and body products.
For those with something to sell who’ll be in the area for a while, full-season vendor rates are dirt cheap.
The market is also famous for its baked goods such as cheesecake, macaroons, and cookies.
7. Ute Indian Museum
The Ute Native Americans called vast expanses of the western states home for countless generations before the area was officially settled. For those interested in getting an in-depth insight into their history and culture, there’s no better place to do it than the Ute Indian Museum on Chipeta Road in Montrose.
Ute people were involved during the museum’s recent renovations, and its exhibits include historic artifacts that range from weapons and tools to clothes, pottery, and artwork.
The museum is inexpensive to visit, and most guests spend about an hour on-site before heading off to explore other area attractions.
8. Montrose Botanic Gardens
Though the high desert weather and soil of west-central Colorado aren’t particularly conducive to growing plants and flowers, the Montrose Botanical Gardens are an amazingly lush oasis that tends to stand out for many first-time visitors.
The facility is comprised of several distinctly themed gardens, many of which include hearty native plants like cacti and succulents of all shapes and sizes.
The gardens are a pleasant mix of the natural and humanmade worlds, and the areas are connected by well-marked paths that include information on the things you’re seeing, as well as ample seating areas along the way.
9. Chipeta Lake State Wildlife Area
Located just down US Route 550 from Delta, Chipeta Lake State Wildlife Area is another Montrose attraction that’s a perfect day trip option for those up for a little exploration.
Chipeta Lake is open year-round and is particularly popular with birders interested in getting a glimpse of the amazing variety of birds that live in the area, such as raptors, woodpeckers, and a number of wading and migratory species.
Swimming, hiking, and mountain biking are also popular pastimes, and the lake is home to abundant sport fish like bass, trout, and perch. Remember to buy a fishing license first if you plan on wetting a line.
10. Museum of the Mountain West
The Museum of the Mountain West was the brainchild of a local man named Richard Fikes, who spent much of his life collecting and restoring historic western Colorado artifacts and memorabilia.
Museum of the Mountain West is located on East Miami Road in Montrose and is open from Tuesday to Saturday between 9:30 AM and 4 PM.
The museum’s authentic items on display include Native American paraphernalia, historic medical equipment, antiques, and housewares that were common during the era, and there’s a large area that includes reproduced homes, shops, and businesses that would have typically found in most early 19th century towns.
11. Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument is one of the state’s premier natural attractions. For those looking to get up close and personal with stunning canyons and majestic red rock formations, there’s no better place to do it.
The site is located on Rim Rock Drive in Fruita. According to scientists and geologists, the landscape began to form more than 100 million years ago and was shaped by both wind and water erosion.
Many of the monument’s areas are reachable by foot, and the extensive trail network ranges from flat and relatively easy to steep and moderately difficult.
There are many vista points near parking areas that offer great views too.
12. Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area
Herds of wild horses still roam freely in the western portion of the state, and one of the most convenient places to see them in their natural environment is at Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area just outside Grand Junction.
The area is comprised of nearly 40,000 acres and includes rolling prairies, rugged backcountry canyons, and picturesque mountains and mesas in the background.
The horses are commonly seen in the lowlight morning and afternoon hours when they’re most actively feeding, and portions of the area are open to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. Some roads may close during the foaling season, which generally lasts from December to April.
13. James M. Robb Colorado River State Park
The Colorado River is another of the Rocky Mountain State’s premier natural attractions, and it offers outdoorsy types abundant year-round activity options.
The James M. Robb Colorado River State Park features a number of distinct areas, including wildlife preservation areas, lakes, and a network of multi-use trails in addition to the river itself.
There are several campsites in the park, and for those who prefer to sleep under the stars instead of in a pricy hotel, they’re great ways to experience the park to its fullest.
Rafting, swimming, and hiking are popular warm-weather activities, and the fishing can be very good as well.
14. Gunnison National Forest
Located just a short drive east of Delta, Gunnison National Forest is a massive tract of unspoiled land that’s comprised of nearly two million acres in four western Colorado counties.
The forest’s sheer size can be a bit overwhelming to those not familiar with the rugged country; for travelers who prefer to see it with a professional guide, many providers operate in the area.
Distinct areas inside the forest include pine forests, canyons, and mountains, and hiking, biking, camping, and fishing are popular activities.
Due to its remoteness and elevation, the weather is often treacherous in the winter, so consider a spring or summer visit if possible.