New Castle Gardens
If you’re not familiar with the autumn awesomeness that is “The Pumpkinator,” head to New Castle Gardens and find out. The pumpkin-launching slingshot is just one of many kid-approved activities offered daily during the full service nursery’s October harvest season. Families can also play putt-putt golf or cornhole, embark on a hayride adventure, hit the giant slide, and peruse a huge selection of colorful Colorado-grown pumpkins and warty gourds to take home. Fall mums, cornstalks, and straw bales are also available for purchase.
And that’s just on weekdays. Every weekend, the nursery kicks things up a notch to offer additional festivities like face painting, music, special vendors, artisan goods, and more. Picnics are encouraged, and birthday parties or school trips are welcome with advance notice by calling ahead. At $5/child, $8/adult, and kids under three for free, a full day of fun at this spot is one of the best family deals around this season.
Orchard Creek Ranch
Ready for homemade pies, spice cakes, sauces, and butters? Visit Orchard Creek Ranch this month and pick your weight in fresh high-country apples perfect for all of your fall baking aspirations. Situated along beautiful Canyon Creek between West Glenwood and New Castle, the organically-maintained orchard is home to some 240 heirloom trees planted nearly eight decades ago. Grab one of the ranch’s long-pole pickers and fill your bag with Rome, Jonathan, and unusual Double Red Delicious apples to eat fresh or take home.
In addition to its u-pick business, the working ranch sells wonderful fresh-pressed cider, dried apple chips, apple cider vinegar, apple wood sized for your grill or smoker, sweet and ornamental corn, and fresh giant sunflowers. It also produces hay and a certified-industrial hemp crop. Arguably one of the state’s most picturesque orchards, the ranch offers plenty of opportunities to snap some gorgeous autumn photos of the family—so don’t forget your camera.
Known throughout the region for its outstanding organic herbs, Osage Gardens is also a beloved fall destination for families. Parents with toddlers and elementary-aged children will especially appreciate a laid-back afternoon at this family-owned working farm where admission is free and the staff are particularly welcoming of younger kiddos.
Browse the pumpkin field for your perfect pick and choose from an array of orange, white, speckled, bumpy, smooth, large, and small varieties. The goods are paid for by the pound, after being weighed on an old-fashioned scale inside the Osage Farm Store. Snacks, harvest goodies, produce, and Big B’s local apple cider can also be purchased in the quaint shop for picnics at tables on the farm grounds. Kids can explore the hay bale maze (which gets bigger and better every year), scramble to the top of Hay Mountain, explore the jumbo sandbox, or pose for pics at the photo op station. Don’t forget to grab a few of the farm’s own organic pie pumpkins before you leave, too.
New Castle Gardens
6501 Peach Valley Road, New Castle
October Hours: Tuesday/Wednesday/Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday/Friday/Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Orchard Creek Ranch
156 County Road 137, Glenwood Springs
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October Hours: Friday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
36730 River Frontage Road, New Castle
970.876.5445 (Farm Store)
October Hours: Monday-Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Know Before You Go:
1. The New Castle Gardens store proudly doubles as a gallery, so don’t miss works by local artists such as Noemi and Kris Kosmowski, Bonnie Daniels, Simone Robertson, and George W. Cutting III.
2. Just beyond Orchard Creek Ranch on County Road 137 is the historic Little Red Schoolhouse, which served the children of local ranchers from the early 1900s through the ‘50s. It’s a must-see in the area.
3. Osage Gardens hosts hundreds of local school kids for educational farm tours throughout the month of October. If you wish to skip the weekday crowds, visit after 12:30 p.m.