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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Outdoorsy autumn adventures with the grandkids

Sep 01, 2018 01:26AM ● By Kimberly Blaker

Summer may be seen as the outdoor season, but autumn also offers lots of opportunities for outdoor bonding and fun in cooler weather. Try some of these activities, and fill your and your grandkids’ senses with delight.

Enjoy a color tour

National parks and forests are the places to be in the fall. See the fall colors on Grand Mesa at their peak on Color Sunday weekend, September 28-30. Find picturesque views by taking almost any route. To avoid car traffic that weekend, plan a hike or take an after-school drive on Friday.

Have a campfire cookout

Have a fall cookout complete with hot dogs, hot chocolate, marshmallows and s’mores. Have everyone take turns telling stories around the fire. If your grandchildren are little, check out library books with autumn themes to read to the youngsters. Please mind current fire restrictions for your area.

Attend a sports game

Gather your blankets and head to the stadium. High school, college and pro football games are great fun for kids and grandparents alike. Take along a bag of popcorn and thermos of hot cocoa, then snuggle up and get ready to cheer on your team.

Visit an orchard

Take your grandkids apple picking, or harvest other autumnal fruits. Some local orchards, such as Fruit Basket Orchards in Grand Junction and Orchard Valley Farms & Market in Paonia, will let you pick your own fruit. Top off the day with cider and donuts and an end-of-the-year picnic.

Make a scarecrow

What’s fall without a scarecrow on your porch? It’s easy to make. Just buy a couple bales of straw, then gather some old clothes and hats. Stuff the scarecrow using string to tie off the hands, feet and head.

Walk in the woods

As flies and mosquitoes retreat, it’s the perfect time of year for a walk in the woods. Look for animals scurrying about gathering for the long, cold months ahead. Don’t forget your binoculars.

Leaf fun

Remember your kids diving into the crisp fall leaves? Grab the rakes and have your grandchildren pitch in. Pile up the leaves to jump in, build a fort and even have a leaf fight.

Find a festival

Apple, fall harvest and many more festivals happen on the Western Slope this time of year featuring food, arts and crafts, kids’ games, pony and wagon rides, and more. Upcoming festivals include the North Fork Valley Art & Ag Tour on September 1, Fruita Fall Festival on September 21-23, Mountain Harvest Festival in Paonia on September 27-30 or Cedaredge Apple Fest on October 6-7.

Visit a pumpkin patch

Pick out your own pumpkin and make your way through the corn maze at Studt’s Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze in Grand Junction, or take your pumpkin on a hayride at the Covered Bridge Ranch in Montrose. After cleaning out the pumpkins, make roasted pumpkin seeds—a yummy treat for the whole family. Rinse the seeds, pat them dry and coat with melted butter. Spread the seeds on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Be sure and stir them occasionally.

Bird migration watch

As fall fills the air, many birds begin to head south. Sandhill cranes can be found near Steamboat Springs and Craig in the fall. Contact state and national parks for recommended birding locations as well as bird festivals.

Plant perennials and bulbs

Let your grandkids try out their green thumbs. After all, fall is the time of year to plant perennials and flower bulbs. Let your grandchildren choose some plants from the garden store, and give them the opportunity to help design the garden. Hand-painted rocks add color until the spring blossoms bloom.

Take a railroad excursion

With the colors of fall blazing under bright blue skies, a scenic railroad excursion is a sure bet. Check out the dates for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad or the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, or contact your local travel agency for excursions in nearby communities.

Horseback rides

Head to the stables and enjoy the fall colors on horseback. Make a reservation with outfitters such as Rimrock Adventures in Fruita or Elk Ridge Ranch & Trail Rides in Montrose.

Make a bird feeder or house

Kids will enjoy the carpentry experience and marvel at watching birds make use of their creation. Bird feeder kits are available in hobby stores and online. Want to make them from scratch? Visit the library and check out a book on how to build a birdhouse. You can also find free instructions online.

Parades and marching bands

Find out when your local high school or college will hold its homecoming parade. Take a blanket and snacks, and enjoy the colorful floats, majorettes, cheerleaders and marching band. For details on Colorado Mesa University’s homecoming parade, visit

Plan your autumn adventure

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Fruit-picking farms

Fall Basket Orchards 434-3063

Orchard Valley Farms & Market 527-6838

Pumpkin patches and family fun

Studt’s Pumpkin Patch (opens October 1) 773-6489

Covered Bridge Ranch (opens September 29) 249-8333

State parks 800-678-2267

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Railroad trips

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad 877-872-4607

Royal Gorge Route Railroad 888-724-5748

Horseback trips

Rimrock Adventures 858-9555

Elk Ridge Ranch & Trail Rides 240-6007

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