Welcome to Ridgway Colorado!
The town of Ridgway is known as the ‘Gateway to the San Juan Skyway’ and for most people this is the entry point where they begin their journey through the Skyway loop. Ridgway is surrounded by giant mountains but is not yet in the spots that are deeply forested and seriously cradled by the steep cliffs you will find in other areas of the Skyway. In fact it is located in a relatively level valley that offers two directions for entry onto the loop. Either direction you choose will soon have you immersed in the heart of the spectacular San Juan Skyway.
Ridgway’s Popular ‘One-Of-A-Kind’ Inn
Ridgway is a small town of perhaps a bit more than 1000 people but is the home of one of the most beautiful Inns on the San Juan Skyway.
Activities and Tours in the Ridgway Area
Stand Up Paddling
Ridgway – Gateway to the San Juans
Situated at the junction of Colorado Hwy 62 leading over the Dallas Divide and westward toward Telluride and US Highway 550, which travels south to Ouray, Silverton and Durango, Ridgway is a gateway to the spectacular loop known as the San Juan Skyway. Hwy 550 travels north from Ridgway 25 miles to Montrose and another 60 miles to Grand Junction. Montrose has the closest airport served by scheduled airlines is Montrose Regional Airport. Telluride Airport is located 37 miles away.
Ridgway sits in the shadows of magnificent Mt. Sneffels (14,150 ft.) that, with its spires, pinnacles, rugged ridges and beautiful slopes full of aspens and flowers, often is said to be Colorado’s most beautiful mountain. Not only is this “Queen of the San Juans” on countless calendars and postcards, some people may recall its gorgeous vistas in “How the West was One” and even more vividly in “True Grit.” But Mount Sneffels is much better known to all types of hikers, climbers and mountaineers as one of their more favored mountains in Colorado for outdoor adventures.
Steep forested mountains and cliffs surround Uncompaghre Valley. From its birth in Lake Como, high in the San Juans, the Uncompaghre River makes a 75-mile journey toward the Gunnison River. Running north through Ouray Valley and Ridgway to Ridgway State Park, the river was damned to create 5-mile-long Ridgway Reservoir. The lake impounded by Ridgway Dam was first filled in 1990 for irrigation of the Uncompahgre Valley and for flood control purposes. The Uncompahgre Valley is an agricultural valley. Agriculture was made possible by the construction of the Gunnison Tunnel that diverted water from the Gunnison River to the Uncompahgre River. Up until the mid-1970s, the Valley had a great reputation for growing sugar beets.
The Uncompahgre River between the town of Ridgway and the Ridgway Reservoir is great for rafting and seeing wonderful wildlife with the majestic San Juan Mountains as the backdrop. Only 25 miles from Ridgway, the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area encompasses Gunnison Gorge Wilderness, Flat Top-Peach Valley, and the Gunnison River Recreation Area. The Gunnison River cuts a wide path through the breathtaking sandstone and black granite canyon.
Ridgway is a sunny town with more than 240 sunny days per year. Rain per year is less than half the US average. August usually is the rainiest month and June the driest. The rainiest season of the year is autumn and the driest is spring. No surprise, mountainous Ridgway gets as much as 75 inches of snow per year. Summer high temperature is a little over 80 degrees. The winter low is about 7 degrees, usually in January.
Each spring, snow melt from surrounding mountains brings increased water flow to the Gunnison and other local rivers. Ridgway offers a perfect base for rafters and kayakers who want to experience the run-off by boating down rivers. The Gunnison Gorge Wilderness offers a pristine backcountry experience. Fourteen miles of the Gunnison River flows through this wilderness area offering very diverse recreational opportunities. Well known for its challenging whitewater boating, it also features world class trout waters. The upland desert landscape of the Flat Top-Peach Valley area provides outstanding off-highway vehicle riding.
Secluded alpine lakes and streams in the vicinity of Ridgway along the Uncompahgre Corridor are full of stocked and native trout that attract fishermen from around the world year-round. Some walk and wade the Uncompahgre River in Ridgway State Park. A prime habitat for Rainbow, Brown and Cutthroat trout, the Ridgway Reservoir is a great fishing destination for anglers and their families. Anglers have many choices for fishing near Ridgway, including in fall and winter, from tributaries of the Uncompahgre River to the serene settings of alpine lakes reached by short hikes.
Just four mile north of Ridgway, beautiful Ridgway State Park was created with the Ridgway Reservoir at its heart. The park is a favorite for fishing, boating, kayaking, windsurfing, standup paddle boarding, picnicking, and swimming. The park is full of wildlife — elk, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, black bear, mule deer and more. More than 140 species of migratory and resident birds have been identified in the park. Bald eagles winter in Uncompahgre Valley from November to April while golden eagles are year-round residents. The park is full of birding opportunities throughout the year.
Ridgway is very fortunate to have Ridgway Area Trails (RAT), a local chapter of COPMOBA (Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association) and a very fun system of biking trails in and around the town. Dedicated to trail advocacy and construction all over western Colorado, COPMOBA has been around since 1989. RAT’s easily accessible trail system in and around Ridgway is the result of many years of RAT and COPMOBA advocating for it with the town, Ouray County, the BLM and Colorado’s Parks and Wildlife (CPW) that even provided a grant. The short trails and loops collectively named RAT consist of both singletrack and dirt road. New trails constantly are being added. Riding the whole network is currently about 10 miles and 800 vertical feet. You can either drive to the trailhead which is just about 1/4 mile up Owl Creek Pass Road or just pedal right out of Ridgway along the river trail. Ridgway also provides easy access to numerous other fantastic mountain biking trails that also are frequented by hikers.
In sum, visitors to Ridgway and nearby Ouray will enjoy spectacular waterways that, in the language of the Utes, have the name “Uncompahgre”. In addition to very clean water and air, residents, visitors and ranches that dot the Valley, together with nature’s sundry creatures, are blessed with more than 240 days of sunshine, a lush spring, spectacular wildflowers, a golden fall and snowy winters. Nature around Ridgway provides the perfect setting for hiking or biking, jeeping in high country on old mining roads, rafting, fishing, hunting and more.
Articles Relating to the ‘Town of Ridgway’
When spring and summer arrive in the San Juan Mountains, wildflower hunting reveals wave after wave of floral beauty. In the high country, wildflowers peak between mid-July and mid-August. For example, a spectacular display of wildflowers is in full bloom in American Basin by mid-July. Bluebells growing in large clumps seem to like American Basin and also Animus Forks.
Ridgway and it’s Chipeta Solar Springs Resort are the starting point for remarkable outdoor adventures
Ridgway and its Chipeta Solar Springs Resort have been blessed with extraordinary public and private efforts over the years to salvage, repair, restore, preserve and enhance the region’s incredible environment in order to provide visitors and residents with the best possible choices for outdoor experiences.
The ultra-scenic San Juan Skyway travels in a 236-mile loop created by US 550 and 160 and State Routes 145 and 62. Although you can begin this marvelous journey at any one of several places, traveling clockwise from Ridgway…