The town of Ridgway calls itself the ‘Gateway to the San Juan Mountains and an undiscovered gem of southwestern Colorado,’ and while the storied San Juans to the south certainly sway most to hurry deeper into the wild, there is a somewhat secret inclusion within this undiscovered gem
The intersection of Highway 550 and Sherman Street in Ridgway has a daily traffic count of about 11,000. That’s eleven thousand bumpers zipping past the little town with an official population of less than 1,000; zipping through a busy intersection with a few dispensaries and a couple of gas stations; and mostly zipping past a town that is perhaps best known as one of the main locations for the John Wayne movie “True Grit.”
Chipeta Solar Springs Resort is just three blocks south of Ridgway’s main thoroughfare, Sherman Street, on South Lena Street. From its Rooftop Sky Bar and the Four Corners Café (both of which are open to the public), guests can barely see the highway with all the folks zipping by, most of whom are unaware of this haven hiding in plain sight.
The property has 33 Southwest-inspired guest rooms—most with private hot tubs—that welcome out-of-towners and locals alike to stay, soak, eat, and enjoy the almost 360-degree views of the nearby mountains. Those that have visited won’t be surprised to hear that the resort has a 60 percent return rate.
Built in 1993 by Jack and Patsy Young, it has expanded several times since then. Today there are Standard Rooms, which are already generously appointed, Choice Rooms, Lodge Deluxe, Kiva Deluxe, and the newest Studios and Suites in LoCha, short for Lower Chipeta. All of the rooms are named for mountains, passes, and other landmarks of the Four Corners region, like Sneffles and the Canyon de Chelly rooms.
“We strive to create an accessible and affordable resort experience that can serve as an alternative to the more expensive mountain town options,” says General manager Clay Frost. “With guests often requesting a room by name.”
Distinctly Southwestern in its unique architecture, most rooms at the Chipeta Solar Springs Resort (or just ‘The Chipeta’) feature real adobe, local rough-hewn logs, uniquely painted porcelain sinks, fireplaces, king sized beds, wet bars, and private patios with hot tubs. Southwestern artwork (including reproductions of Edward S. Curtis’ recognizable images of Native Americans), artifacts, and accoutrement adorn the adobe.
The Kiva building has a meeting/conference space that also offers, among other things, yoga and tai chi classes several times a week.
The Chipeta Spa is the heart of the property where guests and visitors can connect or reconnect with the rare serenity of this region at the hands of experienced, licensed massage therapists. Unwind with a Chipeta Signature Massage, whether alone or with your partner, or try a Head, Hand & Foot Massage. There is even a pregnancy massage. As the website succinctly says, “relax, retreat, refresh, revive.”
As you walk through the resort, it is impossible to miss the main pool. Solar heated and fed by a man-made waterfall, it stays set at a comfortable 80 degrees year-round. The large, elevated hot tub nearby simmers at 104 degrees, with magnificent views east and south toward Telluride.
Dining at the Four Corners Café is an experience in itself. A resident sommelier helps find the perfect pairing for your crab-stuffed portobello mushroom cap, or peppercorn crusted ribeye, while the adobe fireplace in the corner chases off any chill from the outside air. On Wednesdays and Fridays, diners are serenaded by live music. There’s also a Tepee Village on site with three tents—one for adults, one for kids, and a 420-friendly tepee.
For all the reasons out-of-towners, out-of-staters and international visitors come to Western Colorado—to ski or snowboard, hunt, fish, hike, bike, relax, and commune with nature— Chipeta Solar Springs Resort offers a unique, barely hidden homebase for it all. This, and it’s only 40 miles from Telluride, just 10 from the Switzerland of America, Ouray, and only about 30 miles south of Montrose Regional Airport.