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Cooling Off in Southwestern Colorado

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As summer winds down, southwestern Colorado continues to ramp up with festivals leading into fall. Those visiting Chipeta Solar Springs Resort ( are privy to an ideal springboard location to these special events that span from Ridgway to Ouray and Telluride.

Celebrating its centennial on Sept. 3-4, the Ouray County Labor Day Rodeo ( will fill the Ouray Country Fairgrounds’ outdoor arena with plenty of hooping and hollering during the annual county fair. Count on 4-H Livestock sales and exhibits, a parade and barbecue to heat up the action.

Competitors saddle up for such exciting contests as breakaway roping in divisions for cowgirls, juniors, mounted teams and open teams. The non-profit association organizing the rodeo dedicates its time and efforts to preserving ranching heritage by providing scholarships and education-focused financial support to area children.

Also generating plenty of local buzz is the Ridgway Chamber Open ( that’s slated for Saturday, Sept. 9 at the Divide Ranch & Club. In its sixth year, the Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event is debuting a fresh moniker and new “Going for the Green” mission.

With the 2017 edition, one hundred percent of the net proceeds (including sponsorships and donations) will be returned directly to local businesses. Since play is limited to 72 golfers in the shotgun start format, it’s best to register as soon as possible. For details, contact the event planner, Peri Gore, at or (303) 717-2197.

Those into pounding the pavement instead of little white golf balls should opt for the Ouray To Telluride Imogene Pass Run ( that’s scheduled for the same day. Since it began in 1974 as a way for diehard runners to train for the Pike’s Peak marathon, this full-fledged 17.1-mile point-to-point race travels over the 13,144-foot Imogene Pass, through mining ruins, up jagged peaks and above the treeline.

Wrapping up its annual Film Festival that grabs the spotlight from Aug. 30-Sept. 4, Telluride delivers a full roster of additional September celebrations that include the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival (Sept. 15-17), Telluride 3rd Annual Festival of Cars and Colors (Sept. 21-24) and Mountains to Desert Ride from Telluride to Gateway Canyons (Sept. 23). Check for further details.

In Ouray, the Sneffels Fiber Art Festival (Sept. 23-24) at Ouray County Fairgrounds & 4-H Center is geared to shoppers, crafters and artists of all ages. For details on classes available for those interested in fiber art, visit

Signature events aside, this beautiful region brims with late summer/early autumn opportunities that include Fall Photography Workshops ( offered at the Old Schoolhouse in Ridgway on Sept. 31-Oct. 1 and Ridgway Farmers Market ( held downtown every Friday through September.

Often referred to as the “Switzerland of America,” Ridgway State Park ( is home to gorgeous mountain scenery and a five-mile-long reservoir that appeals with year-round recreation. Before snow blankets the ground, outdoor enthusiasts can tap into fishing, sailing, hiking, biking, water skiing, horseback riding and SUP paddling.

RIGS Fly Fish & Guide Service ( features a jam-packed adventure schedule that includes kayaking on the Gunnison River and inflatable kayaking on the Uncompahgre River. Pushing it to the limit, white water rafting excursions up the thrills on the Gunnison through Black Canyon National Park, and on the Uncompahgre and San Miguel rivers.

With Ouray’s “first & only” full service fly shop, RIGS also lures with guided fly fishing journeys, courses/clinics, and a fine selection of flies, gear and tackle from top manufacturers.

Best of all, you can end every active day with a relaxing soak in one of Chipeta’s solar heated thermal pools, refuel with Southwestern fare at the Four Corners Cafe and toast with a nightcap at the al fresco Sky Bar with stunning views of the Cimarron and San Juan Mountain ranges.


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