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5 Surprising Reasons to Love Southwestern Colorado

There are plenty of great reasons to move to Southwestern Colorado. The most obvious is that this is one of the most beautiful places in the world. You can see that for yourself in real time on web cams set up in Montrose, Ouray, and Ridgway. The area is also known for its arts and culture, especially for music and film festivals. Still, there are more, lesser-known reasons to love living in the San Juan Mountains. Imagine doing all of this in your own hometown:

1. Have fun on ice. We know how to celebrate winter here. Colorado’s high altitude and variety of rock features makes it a Mecca for rock climbers around the world, but in the winter, when the toughest climbers switch to climbing ice, Ouray, in particular, is the place to be. Every year, the Ouray Ice Festival draws climbers from around the world to compete, network, and see exhibits from gear manufacturers. Non-climbers can enjoy the festival, too, by watching the competitions, enjoying art sales, riding zip lines, and taking beginners’ climbing lessons. There are plenty of activities for kids, too, so the whole family can get in on the festivities.

2. Walk through a Wild West movie set… John Wayne fans, rejoice! One of his greatest films, True Grit, was shot right here, in Ouray County. Parts of other great Western movies were filmed in this region, too, including How the West Was Won and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. You can search out the sites on your own, or take a guided tour.

3. …or an Ayn Rand novel setting. Filmmakers aren’t the only artists who find this region inspiring. In Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, the best and brightest people in the world walk out on modern civilization and build their own utopian community in the most beautiful place they can find. That settlement, Galt’s Gulch, is entirely fictional, but Rand was picturing the area around Ouray when she created it. Objectivists, the followers of Rand’s philosophy, often hold meetings and tours here, so they can see and feel the perfection of Galt’s Gulch in real life.

4. See wildlife that is incredibly rare… The San Juan Mountains are home to a wide variety of animals and plants, many of which are extremely rare, and some of which live nowhere else in the world. For example, the Uncompahgre fritillary butterfly, a beautiful species that can survive only at very high altitudes, has only been found in this region. Some endangered species, including the lynx, have been re-introduced to this area and are growing in numbers.

5. …or may be just a legend. Do you believe in Bigfoot? If he exists, you just might find him here. This video clip, taken by hikers in the San Juan Mountains, shows a large, hairy, very human-like figure walking and squatting near a river. The producers of Animal Planet’s show, Finding Bigfoot, have investigated and declared that the video  is authentic, meaning that it shows no sign fakery, but what is the creature? Southwestern Colorado may have its own Sasquatch.

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