Surrounded by the rugged peaks of the San Juan Mountains and the Cimarron Range in Colorado, Ridgway is a historic mountain town that got its start as an 1800s railroad hub.
Today, you’ll find a thriving artistic community in the Ridgway Creative District, with galleries and gift shops housed in Old West-style storefronts. With more than 20 percent of the town’s nearly 1,000 residents working as artists, producers or creative professionals, the innovative spirit is evident as you stroll the galleries, shops and museums throughout this quirky, off-the-beaten-path gem on the southwestern tail of the Colorado Creative Corridor.
Meet Artists & Makers
Peek into the galleries and workshops of local artisans as you explore the Ridgway Creative District. At Kane Scheidegger Fine Art Photography, marvel at breathtaking landscape photographs of Colorado and the American Southwest. Mountain Girl Gallery is a women-owned shop showcasing locally made ceramics, metalwork, photography and mixed-media works, and Art by the Park features work by local artists as well as those from around the country, with pottery, paintings, sculptures, art glass and authentic Native American crafts. For truly unique gifts, score some funky finds — from African artwork to handmade furniture to children’s toys (you never know what you’ll find) — at Lupita’s Bizarre Bazaar. Meanwhile, Timber Creek Gallery is the spot to pick up chic clothing, jewelry and home décor with a mountain-town twist (think: vintage-inspired ski signs, hand-hooked pillows and embroidered flannel shirts).
Looking to shop handmade goods by local makers? Pop into Cimarron Art Glass, a working glass forge with a retail section that feels like an art gallery. At Bluecorn Naturals, pick up a few pure beeswax candles in all shapes and sizes. Or satisfy your musical inclinations with a high-quality, custom guitar at Cimarron Guitars. For musicians looking to take their instruments on adventures, Panji Bags creates eco-friendly hard cases specifically for handpan drums and other instruments, as well as cases for other uses.
Think Outside the Gallery
Beyond the workshops and art galleries, Ridgway’s creativity and heritage can be found all around. Feel like part of the community at The Sherbino Theater, where music, movies, lectures and performing arts have been bringing together locals and visitors alike for more than a century. Delve into the local history at the Ouray County Ranch History Museum and Ridgway Railroad Museum. Shop handcrafted goods while talking to local makers at the weekly Farmers’ Market in Hartwell Park from May to October. Snap photographs of some of the spectacular vistas all around Ridgway, and along the way, keep an eye out for poems and artwork displayed in alleyways, as well as public sculptures and murals in the parks and along trails around town. Ridgway is also home of the Grammy Awards, where metalworker John Billings handcrafts the 24-karat gold-plated trophies at Billings Artworks.
Creativity is celebrated in its many forms with vibrant festivals throughout the year. Experience the local arts scene at Ridgway RiverFest, held the last Saturday of June, featuring the handiwork from the “Junk of the Unc” homemade watercraft race, as well as live music and youth art activities. Every Thursday evening in July, bring a picnic to Hartwell Park and enjoy a free line-up of live music in all genres during the Ridgway Concert Series. The Ridgway MoonWalk is a periodic art walk featuring Ridgway’s creative people and places. In mid-August, experience individuality and quality craftsmanship at the Ridgway Rendezvous Art and Crafts Festival, a juried arts-and-crafts festival. The last weekend of September, explore the unique Sneffels Fiber Arts Festival, which showcases quality fiber arts and clothing made by local artists, as well as classes and demonstrations. Reignite your own creativity at Ridgway Spirit Fest, Sept. 21–23, 2018, with inspiring discussion, art, dance and music, as well as speakers such as Richard Rohr, founding director of the Center for Action and Contemplation.
Sip & Savor
After a day of browsing the galleries and shops, recharge with mouthwatering ice cream from Cafe Ridgway a la Mode or enjoy fare at one of many eateries in Ridgway, where you can get a taste of the town’s culinary creativity. Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery is known for its cold pints of locally brewed English-style ales served alongside artisan pizzas, while Taco del Gnar is a true Ridgway original with handcrafted fillings (think house-made lamb sausage and smoked pork belly tacos). What started in a 1966 Airstream trailer, Eatery 66 cooks up homespun, seasonally sourced dishes (from Colorado beef chili to roasted chicken) to enjoy on the new outdoor deck, or head across the street into Melry’s Lunch Box, which also delivers fresh tastes and has its roots in a trailer.
Around the corner, you can step into a former grocer and barber shop from 1894, that today houses Provisions at the Barbershop: a European-style café serving up gourmet dishes for both breakfast and dinner (hint: start with a charcuterie and cheese board). The True Grit Cafe is a Western, saloon-style restaurant that pays tribute to John Wayne and the film by the same name, one of many movies filmed in the Ridgway area. Newcomer Crumb Bakery and Café has already amassed a local following with its line-up of baked treats, creative salads and gluten-free and vegan options. The restaurant scene in Ridgway goes well beyond borders with exotic flavors at Thai Paradise, Oriental Chinese Restaurant, the Adobe Inn Cantina, Land & Ocean Costa Rican, Panny’s Pizza and Four Corners Cafe, with southwestern fare and a coastal influence. When you’re ready to start all over again, kick off your morning with locally roasted coffee at Cimarron Coffee & Books and Exotic Earth Coffee Roasters or breakfast at Kate’s Place.