History & Heritage

Weathered by snowy winters and sunny summers, but preserved by local storytellers and curators, a collection of cultural and economic artifacts and sites awaits your exploration around Ridgway, Colorado.

True Grit in Ridgway Colorado

A History of True Grit

True Grit was certainly one of the most famous Westerns ever made. The film was directed by Henry Hathaway, famed for his work on a long string of Westerns most notably in the 1950s and '60s, with the top stars of his day: Gary Cooper, Randolph Scott and John Wayne. True Grit's celebrity-studded cast featured Wayne, Glen Campbell, Kim Darby, Robert Duvall, and Dennis Hopper.

Spectacular scenery around our charming Colorado town caught the attention of the director of the film that was released in 1969. Ouray County was the main film location with key sets in the movie located right in Ridgway. In six weeks in 1968, the film crew turned the center of this old railroad town into the 1880s-style Fort Smith, Arkansas, complete with Hanging Judge Parker’s three-man gallows. The firehouse now survives as an artist studio, and the livery stable became the post office. The paddy wagon from the movie, True Grit, sits in Heritage Park on the southwest corner of Highways 550 and 62. A short walk up Clinton Street, past the Sherbino Theater, leads you to the living quarters of Rooster Cogburn. Be sure to visit the John Wayne-themed True Grit Cafe and check out the actor and movie memorabilia.

True Grit Walking Tours & Guides

The Ridgway Chamber offers a one-hour True Grit Movie Walking Tour, which departs every Friday at 11 a.m. from the Ridway Visitors Center (May through October). For reservations, call 970.626.5181. The fee is $10 for adults and free for children under 12. Reservations are recommended and attendees are asked to arrive at 10:45 a.m. Throughout the year, tours can be scheduled for parties of six or more at a time of their choosing by calling 970.626.5181 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To explore more film locations on your own (or by hiring a guide), you can head on out on a day trip to find some of the famous movie sites as well as the state’s most photographed mountain scenery. Ten miles west of Ridgway on Last Dollar Road are the remains of the ranch of matriarch Mattie Ross (performed by Kim Darby in the movie), where John Wayne jumped his horse over the fence at the end of the film. And to the East, towards Owl Creek Pass, sits the aspen-lined valley of Katie’s Meadow – one of the most memorable scenes from True Grit. Fifteen minutes up Highway 550 in Ouray, you can visit Ouray County Courthouse where the film's interior court scenes were filmed. Pick up your free Movie Locations Guide at the Visitors Center.

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Local Secret

The Ute Indians were well-acquainted with a fascinating weather phenomenon which the locals today refer to as, “The Colona Line”. If one is driving along Highway 550 (about 16 miles north of Ridgway at Colona ) and it begins snowing, one may likely see the snowfall form a near perfect line running across the highway – almost as if the ground had been masked off, allowing the snow to land on only one side – usually the south side. Is it just a coincidence that “The Colona Line” is approximately in the same location as the Ouray / Montrose County border?

More things to do in Ridgway

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Visitors Center & Ridgway Area Chamber

The Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce is organized to achieve the objectives of promoting business and community development in the Town of Ridgway and the surrounding area. The chamber operates the Visitors Center, which is open from May 1 through October 1.

150 Racecourse Road
Ridgway, Colorado 81432

800.220.4959
- 970.626.5181
raccadmin@ridgwaycolorado.com

2017 Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce. View sitemap
Managed by Peak Media Company LLC

Visitors Center and Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce

The Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce is organized to achieve the objectives of promoting business and community growth and development in the Town of Ridgway and the surrounding area.

150 Racecourse Road
Ridgway, Colorado 81432

800.220.4959
970.626.5181
raccadmin@ridgwaycolorado.com

Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce. Managed by Peak Media Company LLC

Welcome to Ridgway


Extra Info

Orvis Hot Springs in Ridgway was the historic, sacred hot springs of the Ute Indians. It offers several pools, is swimsuit optional, very clean and beautifully landscaped.

Plan your trip
  • Elevation: 6.985'
  • Population: 932 (2013)
  • Sunshine: 300 days / year
  • Summer Temps: 82º / 55º F
  • Winter Temps: 45º / 6º F


Background image graciously supplied by Nature's Finest Images

See you in Ridgway

Adventure, night life and all around easy living await you in Ridgway Colorado, gateway to the San Juan Mountains.