Even if you’re not a recreation diehard, you’ll find ample reasons to plan a late fall getaway to Chipeta Solar Springs Resort in southwestern Colorado. From Anasazi Indian cliff dwellings and scenic canyons to museums homing historic mining artifacts, this beautiful destination satiates with distinctive heritage and cultural experiences you’ll find nowhere else.
Traces of the past were left by a multitude of cultures, including Spanish explorers, American pioneers and Ancestral Puebloans. You’ll witness these in four museums and pair of National Parks–each near the perfect springboard of our boutique lodge that delivers tempting packages to make your adventure even more enticing.
Discover the mystique of southwestern Colorado’s mining, railroading and ranching past in museums that salute the towns of Montrose, Ouray and Ridgway.
Ute Museum Montrose
Recognized as a State Historical Monument and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Ute Museum Montrose was originally built in 1956 near the ranch of Uncompahgre leader, Chief Ouray, and his wife, Chipeta.
For the past few years, however, History Colorado has worked with representatives of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Southern Ute Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe of Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Utah on developing a new building to serve as a place of learning, connection and legacy for the tribal youth and the Montrose community.
Grounds highlights include Chief Ouray Memorial Park, the grave where Chipeta was buried after her death on reservation lands in Utah in 1924, and a native plants garden. Those digging outside activities can enjoy shady picnic areas, walking paths and a link to the citywide trail system.
Visit this salute to the Ute people at 17253 Chipeta Rd. (three miles south of Downtown Montrose at US 550 and Chipeta Rd.). For more details, call (970) 249-3098 or visit HistoryColorado.org/museums/ute-indian-museum-0.
Ridgway Railroad Museum
Long known as the birthplace of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad, Ridgway nods to those glory days with a museum dedicated to preserving Ouray County rail history.
The Rio Grande Southern began its journey in Ridgway, heading up and over Dallas Divide for servicing the mining communities of Telluride, Ophir and Rico. It continued on to Durango, providing a link to two sections of the Denver & Rio Grande.
The museum welcomes history buffs to peruse railroad equipment, artifacts, historical data, books, and photographs of Ouray County and the San Juan Mountains. You’ll also have access to a full schedule of special events that are posted on the museum website calendar at RidgwayRailroadMuseum.org. Summer months find museum members, local residents and even area visitors chipping in on restoration projects enhancing the museum’s collection of rolling stock.
At the junction of U.S. Highway 550 and Colorado State Highway 62, Ridgway Railroad Museum is open daily with free admittance from June 1 through October 31. It closes, however, during the winter season. For more details, call (970) 626-5181.
Ouray County Ranch History Museum
The Ouray County Ranch History Museum (ocrhm.com) in Ridgway features the ranching history that was the lifeblood of northern Ouray County. Originating with a gift of a local ranching history archive from Ralph and Ricky Lauren, the collection grew quickly with enthusiastic local donations.
Parts of the collection can also be viewed in the historic railroad station house in Ridgway. Here, visitors can enjoy rotating exhibitions devoted to the Uncompahgre River Valley’s rich ranching history.
Visit the museum at 321 Sherman St. For more details, check out the website or call (970) 316-1085.
Ouray County Museum
Housed in the original St. Joseph’s Miners’ Hospital that closed in 1964, Ouray County Museum (OurayCountyHistoricalSociety.org) showcases 38 exhibits in 27 rooms on three floors of the historic building. Smaller displays are located in hall cases, alcoves and the original hospital dumb waiters–making the actual museum “facility” a historic slice of Ouray’s past in itself.
The Ouray County Historical Society (OCHS) oversees museum artifacts dating back to 1875 that focus on mining, ranching and railroading that were the three main means of employment in Ouray’s early history.
The OCHS Research Center at 722 Main Street contains more than 25,000 documents, 5,000 photographs and 9,000-book W. Ross Moore Mining History Library of the American West. Appointment-only visits can be arranged by calling (970) 325-0931.
OCHS also offers a private guided walking tour (minimum of four persons) of some three dozen Victorian homes and 19th Century commercial buildings on or near Ouray’s Main Street. The tour guides discuss 36 separate buildings. To arrange a tour, contact the museum at (970) 325-4576.
Of Colorado’s four national parks, two are located within a three-hour drive of Ridgway and Chipeta Solar Springs Resort. Count on a sensory overload of dramatic landscapes, architectural sites and recreational diversions.
Mesa Verde National Park
Located in southwest Colorado near Cortez, this World Heritage Site (nps.gov/meve/index.htm) wows with a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Puebloans that made the area their home from AD 600 to 1300. Today, the park protects some 4,700 known archeological sites, including pueblos, masonry towers, farm structures and 600 cliff dwellings.
Tucked securely into cliff walls, the adobe-constructed homes are the focal point of tours that feature ladders to give guided groups access to some of the finest examples of late prehistoric cliff dwellings in the American Southwest. Considered a “must do” is a one-hour walking tour of Cliff Palace, the park’s centerpiece displaying multiple living enclaves and structures. Researchers believe approximately 100 people lived among its 150 rooms and 23 kivas (ceremonial structures).
While Mesa Verde is open year-round, refer to the visitor guide at nps.gov/meve/planyourvisit/brochures.htm to see what’s on the calendar when you’re planning your visit.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
One of Colorado’s most dramatic landscapes, Black Canyon of the Gunnison exposes visitors to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rocks and craggiest spires in North America.
Sheer black walls plummet up to 2,700 feet on this 53-mile stretch of narrow gorge that reveals millions of years of natural history.
Count on a year-round bevy of outdoor activities ranging from auto touring, wildlife viewing, camping and cross-country skiing to snowshoeing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking and stargazing.
The Denver & Rio Grande narrow gauge railroad once traversed the mouth of this fissure that plunges into the Rockies. Today, the park honors that era through its railroad museum and ranger talks. Another park highlight is the seven-mile drive into the Black Canyon on the Morrow Point Road Tour (early June through Labor Day) that unfolds to such photo-worthy landmarks as Chipeta Falls, the Curecanti Needle and Pioneer Point.
For more details, visit nps.gov/blca/index.htm.
Whether you’re craving a quick Thanksgiving weekend getaway, early winter snow adventure or romantic romp with the one you love, Chipeta Solar Springs Resort has you covered at its ideal springboard location between Montrose and Telluride. To make an escape even dreamier, we offer a variety of packages that cater with special amenities, resort indulges and area activities.
Our southwestern-inspired boutique lodge encourage couples to cuddle up and get cozy while toasting at romantic dinners, relaxing in our solar-heated hot pools, staying fit in yoga classes, basking by the solarium’s fireplace or simply unplugging in a guest room with hot tub and fireplace.
Pairs love our Relax Romance Package that provides chocolate truffles, wine and flowers in-room upon arrival, 50-minute customized therapeutic massage and $50 voucher for delicious cuisine at the onsite Four Corners Cafe from $542 for a minimum two-night stay.
Chipeta’s two solar-heated thermal pools are both centrally located in the resort’s courtyard with stunning views of the Cimarron and San Juan Mountain ranges. The tiled Roman bath is set at 103F degrees, while the larger lap pool is heated to 85F degrees.
Of five additional Ridgway area hot springs, Orvis Hot Springs (OrvisHotSprings.com), Ouray Hot Springs Pool (OurayHotSprings.com) and Wiesbaden Hotel Springs Spa (WiesbadenHotSprings.com) are open to the public for day use.
To help you warm up to these naturally healing waters, our “Three Nights Three Springs” plan features day passes per person at Ouray and Orvis hot springs, 50-minute massage per person at Chipeta Spa, and $50 Four Corners Café voucher from $679.
Or tap into the Chipeta Wellness Package with Orvis Hot Springs day pass, souvenir robes, private yoga session, Himalayan Heaven spa treatment and $100 Four Corners voucher from $1,087 for a minimum four-night stay.