Fruita, Colorado
Interstate 70 sign at Fruita exit.
Interstate 70 sign at Fruita exit.
Honor the Past, Envision the Future
Location of the City of Fruita in Mesa County, Colorado.
Location of the City of Fruita in Mesa County, Colorado.
Fruita is located in the United States
Location of the City of Fruita in the United States
Coordinates: 39°09′17″N 108°43′50″W / 39.15472°N 108.73056°W / 39.15472; -108.73056
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedApril 18, 1894[2]
 • TypeHome rule municipality[1]
 • MayorMatthew Breman
 • Total8.183 sq mi (21.193 km2)
 • Land7.892 sq mi (20.439 km2)
 • Water0.291 sq mi (0.754 km2)
Elevation4,508 ft (1,374 m)
 • Total13,395
 • Density1,697/sq mi (655/km2)
Time zoneUTC−07:00 (MST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−06:00 (MDT)
ZIP code[5]
Area code970
FIPS code08-28745
GNIS feature ID2410553[4]

Fruita (/ˈfrtə/) is a home rule municipality located in western Mesa County, Colorado, United States.[1] The city population was 13,395 at the 2020 United States Census.[3] Fruita is a part of the Grand Junction, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area and lies within the Grand Valley. The geography is identified by the bordering Colorado River (historically known as the Grand River) on the southern edge of the town, the Uncompahgre Plateau known for its pinyon-juniper landscape, and the Book Cliffs range on the northern edge of the Grand Valley. Originally home to the Ute people, farmers settled the town after founder William Pabor in 1884. Ten years later, Fruita was incorporated.

Fruita started out as a fruit-producing region. Today it is well known for its outdoor sports such as mountain biking, hiking, disc golfing and rafting, its proximity to the Colorado National Monument, and its annual festivals, such as Mike the Headless Chicken. Fruita has been the winner of the Governor's Smart Growth and Development Award for four consecutive years. The city motto is "Honor the Past, Envision the Future".


Fruita has had steady population growth for over a century, with descendants of many of the original pioneers still living in the area. The first permanent homesteaders in the Fruita area were possibly Mr. and Mrs. Albert Lapham who settled in late 1882. They resided in a pre-existing cabin with a dirt floor and a blanket door. They were followed by other settlers, nearly all of whom were farmers of one sort or another. The present town was established on May 1, 1884, by William E. Pabor, when he formed the Fruita Town and Land Company. In 1886, for the cost of $500 a farmer could buy five acres, 200 fruit trees and water. Pabor recognized the great promise of the Grand Valley and penned a 300-page volume, Colorado as an Agricultural State, in which he spoke of the fruit-growing potential of this area. Having worked with the Horace Greeley Union Colony, he founded the town in a similar way, including the provision that no liquor be sold or manufactured in the town. This provision lasted until it was voted out in the late 1970s.

The original town site was planned for 80 acres (32 ha) with a park in the middle. The first water reached the town from the Colorado River in 1907. By 1909, the town center was linked with electricity. In the 1930s, Fruita participated in several government projects, including the Grand Valley Resettlement Project (later Western Slope Farms). Settled in groups of two or three families per area, 34 families were relocated by 1937. Later, the Rural Electrification Project brought electricity to around 800 or 900 farms. Fruita also had a Civilian Conservation Corps, several Works Progress Administration projects including the town library (now the Chamber of Commerce), a federal loan for the new central school (now the Civic Center) and the construction of the Rim Rock Drive to the top of the Colorado National Monument, elevation 8,000 feet (2,400 m).[6] Today, the historic activities of Fruita are supported by the efforts of the Fruita Historic Preservation Board and the Lower Valley Heritage Chapter.

From approximately 1900 to 1930, Fruita was a sundown town. Cowboy Charlie Glass was prohibited by law from being buried in the town cemetery, but he was still interred there.[7]

On April 6, 2010, Fruita became the first city in the world to enact a marijuana tax.[8]


Dinosaur Hill
Triceratops skull at Dinosaur Journey Museum, Fruita

In 1900, paleontologist Elmer Riggs and crew, from the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, found the first known Brachiosaurus altithorax at a location later called "Riggs Hill," located off what is now State Highway 340 in Grand Junction. Led there by communications with Dr. S.M. Bradbury of Grand Puns, Riggs had heard that ranchers had been collecting fossils around the area for 20 years. In 1901, Riggs and crew found nearly two thirds of a Brontosaurus skeleton on the northeast side of Dinosaur Hill, in Fruita. This is still considered to be one of the finest specimens known. Later, other sauropod bones were also found, which eventually led to the landmark's name. The animals were from the late Jurassic Age (150 million years ago) and within the 600-foot-thick (180 m) Morrison Formation.[9]

Fossils of the Fruitadens (a heterodontosaurid dinosaur), one of the world's smallest known plant-eating dinosaur, were first found in the Fruita Paleontological Area (within the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area) off Kings View Road in the 1970s and 1980s. The name means "Fruita tooth". There is a replica on display at the Dinosaur Journey Museum. The museum is a part of the Museum of Western Colorado and has information on local paleontology and geology.

Also found here and named after the town is the Mesozoic mammal Fruitafossor ("Fruita digger"), discovered 2005. It was a small animal at less than 10 grams body mass, and had a lifestyle similar to modern-day armadillos but was not related to them, but rather close to the ancestor of all therian mammals. Thus, this important find proves that the first "modern" mammals lived in the Jurassic already.

The region is within the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway and includes two other nearby dinosaur-related sites: Mygatt-Moore Quarry and Trail Through Time off Interstate 70 exit 2.


The stone cottage building located at 432 East Aspen Avenue was built in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration. Originally built as the Fruita Museum in order to house geological displays, it has served as the home of the Fruita Times, the town library (1948–1996), and is currently in use by the Fruita Area Chamber of Commerce. Owned by the City of Fruita, it has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1996.[10]

The two-and-a-half-story, Queen Anne Style stone house at 798 North Mesa Street was built in 1908 by builder A.B. Mahany and first owner Harry Alvah Phillips. It is known locally as the Phillips House and currently run as the Stonehaven Bed and Breakfast. It is bordered by mature cottonwoods, agricultural land, and the Elmwood Cemetery. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.[10]

The two-story Neoclassical building located on 325 East Aspen Avenue was built in 1912 with an addition added in 1936. It was built by the Works Progress Administration as the Central Grade School. In 1993, city and state funds enabled a major renovation, placing it on the State Register of Historic Properties. It currently is the home to the Fruita Civic Center.[11]


Fruita is located 4,514 feet (1,376 m) above sea level in the high desert climate zone on the Colorado Plateau. Surrounding the city limits is the Colorado River, the Colorado National Monument and the Book Cliffs range which extends west into the state of Utah north of Interstate 70.

At the 2020 United States Census, the city had a total area of 5,237 acres (21.193 km2) including 186 acres (0.754 km2) of water.[3]

Distance from Fruita to: Grand Junction-15 mi (24 km), Utah-17 mi (27 km), Montrose-73 mi (117 km), Glenwood Springs-99 mi (159 km), Denver-255 mi (410 km), Salt Lake City-265 mi (426 km).


Under the Köppen climate classification Fruita has a cold semi-arid climate, being a dry continental climate. Seasonal differences between the hot summers and cold winters are drastic. Even so, winter days average well above freezing due to solar warming during daytime. The coldest and hottest months of the year are January and July respectively. The annual average precipitation is 9.89 inches (251 mm).[12] Due to the low precipitation, in spite of winter average lows of about 15 °F (−9 °C), the average year sees just three inches of snow on the ground at the accumulation maximum.[13] The average annual number of growing days is 145 days. The average annual temperature is around 52 °F (11 °C).[12] Fruita experiences an average of 300 days of sunshine per year.

Climate data for Fruita, Colorado, 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1893–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 62
Mean maximum °F (°C) 50.8
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 39.0
Daily mean °F (°C) 27.0
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 14.9
Mean minimum °F (°C) 0.5
Record low °F (°C) −34
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.75
Average snowfall inches (cm) 4.0
Average extreme snow depth inches (cm) 2.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 5.5 5.2 5.7 5.2 4.6 3.3 3.5 5.5 4.6 5.5 4.1 5.2 57.9
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 2.2 1.8 0.2 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.3 1.9 6.6
Source 1: NOAA[12]
Source 2: National Weather Service[13]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2020,[14] there were 13,395 people living in the city.

As of the 2020 census, the racial makeup of the city was 87.7% White, 1.30% African American, 2.30% Native American, 0.50% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 8.20% from other races, and 5.80% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.4% of the population.

At the 2020 census there were 4,892 households, out of which 29.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them. The median value of owner occupied housing units was $259,300. The median rent at the time of the census was $1280. 87.7% lived in the same house 1 year ago.

The median income for a household in the city at the 2020 census was $64,029. About 7.8% of families and 12.9% of the population were below the poverty line. 63.0% of the population are in the civilian labor force.


Fruita is a part of the Mesa County School District No. 51. The city has 6 public schools: Fruita Monument High School, Fruita 8/9 School, Fruita Middle School, Shelledy Elementary School (public), Rim Rock Elementary School (public) and Monument Ridge Elementary School (public).

Colorado Mesa University, founded in 1925, is the closest public higher education institution. It is located in the heart of Grand Junction and supports 13 departments and over 400 instructors.[15] Colorado Mesa University Tech provides higher education instruction for academic transfer programs and career technical programs with nine month certificate programs, two year associate degree programs, as well as other courses for career upgrade.[16]


The Fruita Community Center has stood as a hub of recreational, cultural, and social activities since 2011. Located at 324 N Coulson Street, this facility serves as a focal point for the community, offering a wide range of amenities and programs for residents and visitors alike. The indoor pool features lap lanes, a leisure pool, a spa, a drop slide, a climbing wall, and a diving board. It is available for both exercise and relaxation year-round. Equipped with modern cardio and strength training equipment, the fitness center caters to individuals of all fitness levels. Certified trainers are available to assist with personalized workout plans and you can even join a class. The facility includes a gymnasium for basketball, volleyball, and other indoor sports and activities. It's a versatile facility for both organized sports leagues and casual pick-up games. Various meeting and multipurpose rooms are available for community gatherings, workshops, and events. This includes various meeting rooms, the public library, the Senior Center, a pool party room, and an indoor playground. These spaces can be reserved for both public and private use. Beyond its physical offerings, the Fruita Community Center plays a vital role in fostering a sense of togetherness within the community. It serves as a venue for local clubs, groups, and community organizations to gather and collaborate. Its inclusive atmosphere promotes social connections, wellness, and the overall quality of life for Fruita's residents.


The area surrounding Fruita is renowned for its mountain, road, and gravel biking trails. The most notable mountain biking areas include the North Fruita Desert/18 Road trail system (Chutes and Ladders, Zippety-do-da, Edge Loop, Joe's Ridge, Prime Cut, Kessel Run, and others) and the Kokopelli Trailhead region (Mary's Loop, Horsethief Bench, Lion's Loop, Moore Fun, Rustler's Loop, Steve's Loop, Troy Built, and others). Kokopelli Trail is a 142-mile (229 km) continuous single and double track trail connecting the nearby town of Loma to Moab, Utah. Road biking is also a favorite sport in the high desert climate of Fruita. Many ride the 46-mile (74 km) loop along the Colorado National Monument overlooking the Grand Valley. The Fruita Farms/Highline Lake Loop is also popular, stretching from the town to the lake and back. Gravel biking has more recently gained traction in the area. The Fruita and Palisade Gravel Adventure Field Guide is a free booklet that details the best trails and the history of them, along with maps. There are multiple bike shops where people can buy new bikes or parts as well as get repairs. Colorado Backcountry Biker, Over the Edge Sports, Pedaling Innovations, and Canfield Bikes are all conveniently within city limits for all biking needs.


Many common and rare birds can be seen here, including ash-throated and gray flycatchers, bald eagles, blue herons, pinyon jays, and peregrine falcons, as well as some rare breeds such as red-throated loon and red-necked grebe. The best birding locations are the Colorado River, Colorado National Monument and Highline Lake State Park. The Grand Valley Audubon and the Colorado Birding Society are good sources of local information on birding. See also List of birds of Colorado.

Water Sports

Rafting, kayaking, boating, and canoeing: The Colorado River, located just a short drive away, offers various sections suitable for different skill levels. You can embark on thrilling whitewater adventures or opt for a more leisurely float through scenic canyons.

Stand-Up Paddle boarding: There are multiple opportunities for paddle boarding, including the James M. Robb State Park, Imondi Wake Zone (which also offers wakeboarding and a water obstacle course), Snooks Bottom Open Space, Highline Lake, and calmer spots in the Colorado River.

Swimming: For indoor swimming, the Fruita Community Center offers a swimming pool and hot tub. There are also plenty of places to swim outdoors such as Highline Lake, James M. Robb State Park, and more.

Exploring Waterfalls: The area around Fruita features some stunning waterfalls, like Connected Lakes, No Throughfare Canyon, Big Dominguez Canyon, and Rifle Falls, which are worth visiting. These natural wonders are often surrounded by lush vegetation and provide a refreshing escape from the heat.


Adobe Creek National Golf Course, located at 876 18 1/2 Road, offers three nine-hole courses nestled along Adobe Creek and the Colorado River. There are four golf courses available in Grand Junction.

Hiking and horseback riding

View of Fruita from the Colorado National Monument

There are hiking and horseback riding trails of variable lengths available in nearby McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area including Devil's Canyon, Pollock Bench, Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness (Knowles Canyon, Mee Canyon, Moore Canyon, Rattlesnake Canyon), Colorado National Monument (Canyon Rim Trail, Coke Ovens Trail, Liberty Cap Trail, Monument Canyon Trail, Otto's Trail, Serpent's Trail, Window Rock Trail), Dinosaur Hill, Highline Lake State Park, and Rabbit Valley.

Hunting and Fishing

Big Game Hunting: Fruita and its surrounding areas are known for their excellent big game hunting. Hunters flock to the region in pursuit of deer and elk. The vast public lands, including the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests, offer ample acreage for both rifle and archery hunting. The hunting season typically starts in the fall, and hunters are required to obtain the appropriate licenses and follow state regulations.

Small Game and Upland Bird Hunting: Fruita and the western slope of Colorado also offer opportunities for small game and upland bird hunting. This includes hunting for species like rabbits, squirrels, grouse, and pheasants. The local terrain, including sagebrush flats and piñon-juniper woodlands, provides suitable habitats for these game animals.

Waterfowl Hunting: The Colorado River and nearby wetlands attract waterfowl hunters in search of ducks and geese. The region's diverse waterways and marshy areas provide ideal habitats for waterfowl, and hunters can access public lands or private hunting clubs to pursue this activity.

Trout Fishing: The rivers, streams, and lakes in and around Fruita offer some of the best trout fishing in Colorado. The Colorado River itself is home to a variety of trout species, including rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout. Additionally, high mountain lakes in nearby areas provide opportunities for pristine alpine trout fishing.

Warm Water Fishing: In addition to trout, the region's lakes and reservoirs support a variety of warm water fish species, including bass, catfish, crappie, and sunfish. Local fishing spots like Highline Lake State Park and Mack Mesa Lake are popular destinations for warm water anglers.

Fly Fishing: Fruita and the surrounding region are a haven for fly anglers. The crystal-clear streams and rivers provide an excellent environment for fly fishing enthusiasts looking to test their skills against wary trout. Local fly shops can provide guidance on the best flies and techniques for the season

Ice Fishing: In the winter months, when lakes freeze over, ice fishing becomes a popular activity. Anglers can drill holes in the ice and fish for a variety of species, including trout and perch.


Fruita Canyon as viewed from Colorado National Monument

Town parks in Fruita include Circle Park at the junction of Mesa Street and Aspen Avenue, Comstock Park at 725 Galena Circle, Heritage Park at 210 I-70 Frontage Road, Little Salt Wash at 1135 18 Road, Raptor Skate Park at 273 North Cherry, Reed Park at 250 South Elm, Roberson Park at 280 West Roberson Drive, Triangle Park at 103 South Coulson Street, and Veteran's Memorial Park at 342 Hwy 340. The James M. Robb Colorado River State Park encompasses 890 acres located on State Highway 340.

The Colorado National Monument is almost 20,500 acres (83 km2) of semi-arid wilderness, rising more than 2,000 feet (610 m) above the city of Fruita. Native wildlife such as eagles, bighorn sheep, and mule deer can be seen in the area.

The Riverfront Trail system follows the Colorado River through Mesa County through cottonwood groves, wetlands, and marshes. It is home to over 200 different species of birds, three endangered species of fish, and an abundance of small animals. The trail project is still in progress and plans to connect Fruita to Palisade via a paved recreation trail. The project is a collaboration of several cities, Mesa County, and state agencies and overseen by the Colorado Riverfront Commission.[17]


Rimrock Rodeo takes place from June through August every Tuesday evening through the summer. A series of events showcase riders: there is a "Mutton Busting" event and the Professional Rodeo Riders "Grand Entry" event.


Fruita runners take part in town races such as the July PteRANodon Ptrot, the February Sweet Heart Run, and the annual Rim Rock marathon held in November atop the Colorado National Monument. Trail running is also popular and takes place on any of the hiking trails. The Desert RATS Trail Running Festival includes 5, 10, 25, and 50-mile (80 km) trail races in April, as well as the Desert RATS multi-day supported trail race along the Kokopelli's Trail from Loma to Moab.

Arts and culture

Fruita's art scene has become increasingly popular as the city has aimed to recognize artists. The 2023 Fruita Fall Festival theme was “Paint the Town” and focused on local art heavily with a mural contest, art contest, and the annual art walk. The HeART of Fruita is another program. In 2023, the Fruita Arts and Culture Board began to ask artists to submit applications for sculptures that will be up around the city for a year before the next applications open. Orbit Art Space, FARM, and Lithic Bookstore and Gallery provide spaces for local artists to show off and sell their work. Community art can also be seen in the Fruita Civic Center, where photos by locals are hung in the lobby and replaced monthly. Major music events of the region include the Summer Thursday night concerts, the Riverfront Concert Series, various artists at local venues, and Country Jam in the nearby town of Mack. Shows also take place during the annual Fat Tire Festival and the Fruita Fall Festival. The Mesa County Public Library - Fruita Branch is housed in the Fruita Community Center at 324 North Coulson Street. Nearly 7,000 square feet (650 m2), the facility includes a reading room with fireplace, program room and meeting rooms. The Grand Junction Sentinel, and the Grand Junction Free Press serve the current events needs of the region. There are several active civic groups, including the Fruita Lions Club, Fruita Masons, and Fruita Rotary Club, as well as the non-profit Fruita Thrift shop that has been supporting the town's activities for over 50 years. The city was involved with the 2000 independent horror movie "Machine Head"


Fat Tire

Single-track mountain biking enthusiasts and friends have been celebrating the hundreds of miles of mountain bike trails around the area of Fruita and western Colorado at this festival since 1996. The three days include races, live music, a beer garden and parties. It is held every year at the end of April.

Mike the Headless Chicken

Fruita is known for Mike the Headless Chicken, a chicken who lived for 18 months after his head was cut off. Lloyd Olsen, the remover of Mike's head, continued to give him food and water with an eye dropper. He grew to be almost 8 lb (3.6 kg). Mike went on to tour the country as a side show. A festival in his honor is held each May in Fruita.


Voted "Best of the West" by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel's readership in 2001, 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2009, the Fruita Fall Festival started in 1914 as a harvest festival for the local fruit production industry and has evolved to a major event. It includes three days of events with music, carnival rides, a parade, a bed race, a baking and canning contest, a youth pet and talent show, two stages of music, and arts and crafts vendors. The event is celebrated on the last full weekend in September.[18]



The nearest commercial airport is Grand Junction Regional Airport (GJT) in Grand Junction 19 miles (31 km) east. Allegiant Airlines, American Airlines, and SkyWest Airlines (flying as United Express) provide direct service to Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. Charter companies Colorado Flight Center and Denver Air Connection providing connections to nearby regional destinations.


Fruita is on Route 8 of the Grand Valley Transit, the operating regional bus transportation system. The bus connects Fruita stops with the Mesa Mall on U.S. Highway 6 and 50 at the 24 1/2 Road.


Fruita lies off exit 19 of Interstate 70, along U.S. Highway 6 and 50 and at the western end of State Highway 340. The State Highway 139 connects 5 miles (8.0 km) west with the northern city of Rangely and Dinosaur National Monument.


The nearest passenger train station is 11 miles (18 km) southeast at the Grand Junction Amtrak station. This station is served by the California Zephyr train. It was originally built by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. The mainline, now used by the Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway, runs east–west along the city which serves industrial rail use.

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Active Colorado Municipalities". Colorado Department of Local Affairs. Retrieved October 18, 2021.
  2. ^ "Colorado Municipal Incorporations". State of Colorado, Department of Personnel & Administration, Colorado State Archives. December 1, 2004. Retrieved September 2, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d "Decennial Census P.L. 94-171 Redistricting Data". United States Census Bureau, United States Department of Commerce. August 12, 2021. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  4. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Fruita, Colorado
  5. ^ "ZIP Code Lookup". United States Postal Service. Archived from the original (JavaScript/HTML) on November 4, 2010. Retrieved September 22, 2007.
  6. ^ a b City of Fruita "History of Fruita". Archived from the original on May 4, 2011. Retrieved February 11, 2011. "Town History", February 11, 2011
  7. ^ "Fruita". History and Social Justice. Archived from the original on July 15, 2023. Retrieved July 15, 2023. Another source wrote, "When it came time to bury Charlie, he further secured his legendary status, becoming the first black person to be interred in the Fruita Cemetery. Until Charlie's death, Fruita's Blacks were forbidden to be on the streets there after 6 p.m. and were not allowed to be buried in the local cemetery."
  8. ^ Warner, Joel (April 30, 2010). "Georgia Sigala: City Council District 1 showdown, part 8". Westword. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  9. ^ United States Bureau of Land Management. Landmark information panels.
  10. ^ a b Noel, Thomas J. (2007). Guide to Colorado's Historic Places: Sites Funded by the State Historical Fund. Westcliffe Publishers. ISBN 978-1-56579-493-1.
  11. ^ City of Fruita Historic Preservation Board. Fruita Historic Walking Tour Brochure.
  12. ^ a b c "U.S. Climate Normals Quick Access – Station: Fruita, CO". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  13. ^ a b "NOAA Online Weather Data – NWS Grand Junction". National Weather Service. Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  14. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  15. ^ Mesa State College. "About Mesa State College" Archived July 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, 2010. accessed February 11, 2011.
  16. ^ Western Colorado Community College. "Western Colorado Community College". Archived from the original on January 29, 2011. Retrieved February 12, 2011.. 2010. accessed February 11, 2011.
  17. ^ Colorado Riverfront Commission, [1], What is the Riverfront Trail System, February 11, 2011
  18. ^ Fruita Area Chamber of Commerce, "Fruita Area Chamber of Commerce". Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved February 11, 2011., Fruita Festivals, February 11, 2011