Snugged into the Uncompahgre Valley in western Colorado is the postcard-perfect little town of Ridgway, home to around 1,000 residents and one of the sweetest getaways in the entire state.
The scenery begs for superlatives, with the San Juan mountain range to the south jutting into the bluest of skies and the Cimarron peaks commanding a Standing O. Hill and vale are covered with pine and aspen, and cottonwoods dot the stream banks in the lower regions. And it’s all illuminated by an average of 300 sunshiny days each year.
Get the picture? It’s downright beautiful. But Ridgway is more than meets the eye, with a community that supports not only ranchers and farmers and other land stewards but also artists of all stripes. Studios and galleries provide outlet for painters, sculptors, artisans, potters, woodworkers, jewelry makers, photographers, weavers – if it’s beautiful, you’ll find it here.
There’s also an energetic musical force in town, with a popular concert series. And Sherbino Theater offers music, film showings and other cultural fare. Shopping is just as varied, with one-of-a-kind treasures and souvenirs ready to go home with you.
For history buffs, Ridgway has a colorful past. It was founded in the last decade of the 19th century to be headquarters for the Rio Grand Southern Narrow Gauge Railroad, which services the gold and silver mines as well as the farmers and ranchers of the area. A museum holds relics of those bygone glory days. And the area’s incredibly idyllic setting made it the perfect backdrop for 1969’s “True Grit,” for which John Wayne won the Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn.
While you’re soaking up the atmosphere, consider soaking up some of Ridgway’s food and drink as well. There are numerous renowned restaurants as well as a local brewery and distillery.
Accommodations to fit every budget and need are available in Ridgway and nearby Ouray, and the area is a great place to pitch a tent and get to know Mother Nature on a first-name basis.
Four seasons present endless possibilities for outdoor recreation, but a quick inventory shows the 1,000-acre reservoir at Ridgway State Park just a couple of miles from town. Fishing is great there and on the Uncompahgre, and the reservoir park is also an ideal place for camping, boating, waterskiing, wind surfing, picnicking, hiking and biking.
If a good soaking sounds good, Orvis Hot Springs offers several pools outside and one indoors. There’s also rodeo, golf, motorcycle and off-road tours, rafting, kayaking, hunting, birding, skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, scenic drives… Oh, the things you’ll do in Ridgway!