RIDGWAY: In the full light of a clear day, the 360-degree view of the San Juan Mountains – dominated in the west by 14,150-foot Mt. Sneffels – normally provokes a gasp or exclamation.
So does nearby Orvis Hot Springs, which offers clothing-optional pools for people who enjoy splashing around in their own skin, about one mile south of town.
While the humanity at Orvis no doubt makes the scene, it’s the mountain scenery that makes Ridgway.
It was the backdrop for the courthouse and Chinese laundry where one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, played by John Wayne, drank whiskey, slept in a trough and sashayed around the gallows in the 1969 film version of True Grit.
Props and shooting locations are displayed at Heritage Park on the southwest corner of Highways 550 and 62. “A short walk up Clinton Street … leads you to the living quarters of Rooster Cogburn.”
Ten miles west of the historic mining town on Last Dollar Road, find the remains of the Mattie Ross Ranch, where Mattie told Rooster he was too old and fat for his horse to jump a three-rail fence.
“Well, come see a fat old man sometime,” retorted Wayne, a cancer survivor at age 62, who bowed on horseback, waved his black hat and jumped the fence.
Photo of Mt. Sneffels courtesy Haji Mahmood