As Rocky Mountain aspens swap their green for fiery shades of orange, red and gold, Chipeta Solar Springs Resort in Ridgway welcomes you to witness this gorgeous shift of seasons with our southwestern Colorado boutique lodge as your springboard.
Before a blanket of winter snow wraps the landscape, you’ll still privy to ample outdoor activities that make the town of Ridgway and the entire region a perennial favorite among sports enthusiasts.
Taking Photography Beyond the Selfie
Nothing captures memories in the making like the perfect photo. When you’re at the right place at the right time, it’s pure magic. Just image the spectacular autumn colors painting the backdrop on a RIGS Adventure Co. Photo Tour that explores the area’s diverse landscapes.
Options include half-day guided excursions in the Cimarron High Alpine River Region, Uncompahgre National Forest, Black Canyon National Park or the towns of Ridgway, Ouray and Silverton. Expert guides lead novice and seasoned photographers through prime wildlife habitat for an up-close look at nature that includes everything from deer and birds of prey to majestic views of rugged peaks and riparian zones.
Group size is limited to assure a more intimate, tranquil adventure. For a seasonal schedule, visit Fishrigs.com.
Nothing short of stunning, the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway travels a 236-mile loop that encompasses some of the most photo-worthy views in Colorado. It’s also a trip back in time that’s sprinkled with ghost towns, historic hikes, museums, horseback and cattle drive opportunities, and old mining roads repurposed as Jeep and OHV trails.
The Southwest Colorado route that connects highways 550, 62, 145,and 160 rolls out through Ouray, Ridgway, Telluride, Rico, Dolores, Cortez and Durango. Topping the list is Highway 550 for the classic Million Dollar Highway stretch between Silverton and Durango that loosely parallels the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
A pleasant surprise for first-time travelers are the towns of Rico, Dolores and Cortez that were founded in Colorado’s mining and ranching heyday. You’ll find the trio located from 71 to 115 miles southwest of Ouray.
The San Juan Skyway drive truly dazzles in autumn as you hit red rock country. For details, visit OurayColorado.com/things-to-do/san-juan-mountains/san-juan-skyway. You can also ask the Chipeta staff for a map and for their favorite stops along the drive.
High Mountain Jeep Tours
A pre- or post-winter trip to the San Juan Mountains wouldn’t be complete without a Jeep jaunt. Aptly named Switzerland of America, the area encompassing the town of Ouray boasts more 14,000-foot mountains concentrated in a single region than any other within the Rock Mountains–making the terrain easier to tackle in a Jeep.
Departing Ouray, the Imogene Pass Tour crosses Box Canyon Gorge and Canyon Creek before heading through the lower historic district of Camp Bird Mine. The route continues climbing in elevation up to Imogene Basin past the site of the Yellow Rose Mine and a beautiful waterfall. It then ascends above tree-line to a ghost town area of the original Camp Bird, a major source of gold and silver in the 1800s.
The greatest payoff comes when summiting Imogene Pass at more than 13,100 feet, where you’ll soak in panoramic views of distant high mountain peaks and the town of Telluride.
On the return to Ouray, the guide shares a historic narrative of the infamous Ft. Peabody and views of Ptarmigan Lake.
Sadly, the Jeep tour season is approaching its close. So this is the perfect time to tap into Chipeta’s a High Mountain Jeep Adventure plan that includes a half-day Jeep tour, 50-minute customized spa treatment and Four Corners Cafe voucher for $50 priced from $753 per package.
Cheers to Beers
Hops and barley aficionados are in for a frothy treat with Ouray County’s unique craft breweries.
A small corner establishment tucked into a 1915 brick building on Ridgway’s Clinton Street, Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery showcases the beer-production process in full view from a classic antique oak bar. After a day on the go, quench your thirst and hunger by quaffing English-style session ales and hoppy American beers with artisan pizzas and salads.
If you have more than a passion for simply enjoying a cold one, take it a step further with the pub’s Beer Immersion course that both inspires and prepares diehards to open their own brewery without spending a fortune in the process. For the full scoop, visit ColoradoBoy.com.
Located at 6th and Main Street in Ouray, family owned and operated Ouray Brewery pours award-winning craft beers and serves hearty pub-style American cuisine in its comfortable restaurant with rooftop seating. At the base of Million Dollar Highway it’s literally fewer than five minutes from Box Canyon Falls, Ouray Perimeter Trail, Ouray Hot Springs Pool, Switzerland of America Jeep Rentals & Jeep Tours, and Ouray Ice Park.
Foodies find an interesting menu merging typical bar fare with gluten and vegetarian options plus chef’s specialties. Among the top brew picks is Bluegrass Pale Ale, an American Style Pale Ale made with a large amount of regional Chinook hops grown near the western Colorado town of Paonia. For the delicious details, visit OurayBrewery.com.
One block off Main Street on 7th, Mr. Grumpy Pants Brewing Co.–aka Ourayle House Brewery–offers a cabin-like setting with wood burning stoves, menu of tap beers and proprietor who is far from grumpy. It’s a great hub for visitors to interact with locals while discussing ski conditions or stellar hiking trails.
Other Southwest Colorado brewing company options include Ska Brewing and Animas Brewing in Durango, Two Rascals in Montrose, Main Street Brewing & Restaurant in Cortez, Riff Raff Brewing and Wolfe Brewing in Pagosa Springs, Mancos Brewing in Mancos and Telluride Brewing in Telluride.
Say “Cheers” to the suds frenzy at the Firkin Cask Ale Festival on Saturday, Oct. 21, as breweries from Western Colorado and beyond gather in Ridgway to share a special cask of real ale–some produced with inventive ingredients, while others are created with a more traditional English Style.
Conditioning in the cask itself, cask ales are free of artificial carbonation, and in most cases are dispensed with a gravity spout. Air is allowed into the cask to give the ales more richness and complexity. Expect beers from nine breweries that include Colorado Boy, Telluride Brewing and ECHO Brewing. For tickets and additional details, visit Sherbino.org/events.
Be sure to mark your calendar for the 2018 Telluride Blues & Brews three-day festival that’s held mid-September.
Hot Ways to Heal
Of five hot springs in the Ridgway area, three are open to the public for day use–Orvis Hot Springs (OrvisHotSprings.com), Ouray Hot Springs Pool (OurayHotSprings.com) and Wiesbaden Hotel Springs Spa (WiesbadenHotSprings.com).
You can also indulge “at home” with Chipeta’s pair of onsite solar heated thermal pools in our central outdoor courtyard. One is a tiled Roman bath set at 103F degrees, while the larger is a lap pool heated to 85F degrees.
When you’re booking your southwest Colorado vacation accommodations, check Chipeta Resort’s website for special packages that include visits to Ouray Hot Springs and Orvis Hot Springs. A “Three Nights Three Springs” package includes day passes per person at Ouray and Orvis thermal springs, a 50-minute massage per person at Chipeta Spa, and complimentary use of the resort’s thermal pools.
There’s no shortage of Halloween festivities in the Ridgway area, with holiday events running from horror flicks to haunted dwellings.
Oct. 13-15–Telluride Horror Show Film Festival (TellurideHorrorShow.wixsite.com/telluridehorror)
Oct. 21–Firkin Cask Ale Festival at Sherbino (Sherbino.org/events)
Oct. 27–Ridgway Halloween Celebration with costumes and a band at the Sherbino (Sherbino.org/events)
Oct. 27–The Rocky Horror Picture Show at Telluride Theatre (TellurideTheatre.org)
Oct. 30-31–Annual Haunted House & Carnival at Ouray Elk’s Lodge (OurayElks.org)
Oct. 31–Haunted Hospital at the Telluride Historical Museum (Telluride.com/haunted-hospital-0)
Autumn’s action and festivities all add up to making a Chipeta getaway the perfect way to celebrate this colorful season. For rates and specials, visit Chipeta.com.