The Hollywood producers behind the 1962 epic film How the West Was Won needed a shooting location that would do justice to the film's huge budget and star-studded cast. They found a stunning backdrop amid the San Juan Mountains in a tiny town called Ridgway, where bighorn sheep, deer, and elk roam the green fields south of town. You can experience the film's iconic backdrop at Chipeta Solar Springs Resort, which is dotted with adobe-style lodges.
Each lodge at the resort exudes southwestern style: there are rough adobe walls, tiled baths, and knotted-wood furnishings. Some lodgings overlook the property’s solarium, and the Loghill and Mears rooms feature private covered porches looking toward the mountains. For the best view, head to the rooftop of the Four Corners Cafe, an onsite restaurant manned by chef Adrian Musgrove, who recently won the Master Chef competition at the annual Taste of Ouray. If you’re undecided on what to choose from Four Corners' menu, Chipeta Solar Springs general manager Roger Gardner recommends chef Adrian’s Cajun shrimp, followed up by a signature mojito at Skybar.
The resort's spa provides massage treatments with herbal oils, marble stones, and other natural elements. You can also unwind in Chipeta's saltwater thermal pools, which are heated by solar panels. Stop for a cup of tea at the solarium, too, a two-story room teeming with indigenous plants.
Ridgway, Colorado: Old West Town near Telluride Ski Area
Known as the "Gateway to the San Juan", Ridgway lies between the Cimarron and San Juan Ranges in southwestern Colorado's Uncompahgre Valley. Vestiges of old Ridgway are on display at the Ridgway Railway Museum, which houses a collection of antique rail cars. Nearby Telluride's slopes and the renowned Telluride Ski Area draw skiers until early April. Here, they slice through powder skiing, test limits on a vertical drop, and revel in free gondola rides. Ten miles south of the hotel, climbers scale the town of Ouray's public ice climb park. Ouray's historical Victorian buildings house boutiques and art galleries, where artisans blow glass, handcraft metals, and whittle wooden statues with sharp rhetoric.