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The Ross ranch of True Grit fame. Photo by Jim Pettengill

If You Love True Grit, Head to Ridgway This Month

Ridgway Old West Fest celebrates the town's starring role in True Grit—and offers a good excuse to explore the Western Slope town.

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Ridgway Old West Fest
Fifty years ago, Hollywood transformed Ridgway into the set of the original True Grit film, leaving a mark so distinct the town may as well have been branded: Guides still lead cinephiles past Rooster Cogburn’s home and Judge Parker’s three-man gallows. This first-time celebration (October 11 to 13) adds other delights for fans, such as a Q&A session with set painter Don DeJulio and performances by crooner Debby Campbell, the daughter of country legend and True Grit star Glen Campbell. For a truly immersive experience, don’t forget to pack an eye patch for the John Wayne look-alike competition.

Ridgway Railroad Museum
The short, narrow-gauge Rio Grande Southern Railroad only traveled between Ridgway and Durango. Nevertheless, it provokes a disproportionate amount of excitement from locomotive aficionados. Why? During the Great Depression, the company used a small rail car powered by a bus motor, rather than a resource-guzzling steam engine, to save money. Now called the Galloping Geese, the fleet has been largely dispersed, but for Old West Fest, two cars will return to Ridgway. Ride one on the museum’s half-mile loop with views of the San Juans for the coolest leaf-peeping “drive” you’ll ever experience.

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Eatery 66’s Airstream trailer. Photo courtesy of Made By Latitude.

Eatery 66
Spencer Graves, who spent eight years as the executive chef at luxury Costa Rican hotel Florblanca, and his wife, Katie, began flipping locally sourced patties inside a 1966 Airstream in 2015. Within two years, they’d outgrown the trailer and started serving their popular burgers—as well as Korean barbecue pork belly BLTs—from a downtown Ridgway brick-and-mortar with a mountain-facing patio. That’s where the Airstream now resides, acting as a taproom for a rotating lineup of Colorado craft beers.

Bowls from Mountain Girl Gallery. Photo courtesy of Diedra Krois.

Ridgway Creative District
At least 20 percent of the city’s population identifies as artisans. It’s no wonder, then, that the Ridgway Creative District dominates much of downtown. At Mountain Girl Gallery, four owner-makers ply their distinct wares—from rustic copper serving utensils to hand-spun scarves—under one roof. The 104-year-old Sherbino Theater added new lighting and acoustic equipment during last year’s remodel, bolstering live performances like the one folksy strummer Emily Scott Robinson will provide on October 18.

Chipeta Solar Springs Resort & Spa
There’s no wrong way to gaze at golden aspens during the fall—but a hot tub on your suite’s private patio might be the ultimate vantage point. (Request a southeast-facing room for the best views of the San Juans.) The soak is just one of many luxurious details at this elegant, adobe-style resort (from $159 per night) designed for tranquility: Relax further with a CBD massage or in the solar-heated thermal pools before bedding down in a room with log-lined ceilings and Mexican-tile bathtubs.

A RIGS angler. Photo courtesy of RIGS Fly Shop & Guide Service.

RIGS Fly Shop & Guide Service
Take advantage of fall fly-fishing along the foliage-lined Uncompahgre and Gunnison rivers with Ridgway Independent Guide Service (RIGS) owners Tim and Heather Patterson. They’ve spent nearly two decades outfitting anglers with fishing gear, kayaks, and even canine life vests. Most important, the Pattersons’ meticulously detailed, all-season fishing reports make them the local experts on where and when to cast a line.

Fall in Colorado

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