The town of Ridgway offers a great advantage to holiday travelers, and residents alike, in that only six miles to its north you will find the Ridgway State Park with its magnificent Ridgway Reservoir.
Located in the Uncompahgre Valley, the region surrounding Ridgway has always been nourished by the flowing waters of the Uncompahgre River. As the area grew it became evident that additional water resources would be necessary and a decision was made to build a dam and create a reservoir to capture the snowmelt flowing from the high elevations of the surrounding San Juan Mountains. The project was completed in 1987. When finished the dam was just over 100 meters in height, almost 2500′ in length, created a reservoir lake extending over 5 miles in length and had a surface area of over 1000 acres.
The newly formed reservoir provided the necessary water as intended but it rapidly filled another void in the sense that it blossomed into a full-blown year round recreational facility that soon became one of the finest water sports areas in Colorado. Today it is used to enjoy various forms of boating, fishing, swimming, hiking and nature excursions.
The Park is divided into three distinct sections that are all accessible in successive turn-offs from highway 550 which runs right through the valley. Driving from Ridgway going north you will come to the Dallas Creek turn-off, then Dutch Charlie and finally the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk turn-off. Each has their differences or variations but all are equally sensational. The first recreational area to be completed was Dutch Charlie in 1989, then Dallas Creek in 1992 and finally Pa-Co-Chu-Puk in 1994.
Dallas Creek can be seen in dramatic fashion from the highway. In the spring and summer months you will see cars pulled down close to the water with awnings and umbrellas outstretched as families play in the refreshing waters enjoying a great swim, kayaking, paddleboarding, boating and general frolic. The southern end of Dallas Creek is where you will find the convergence of Dallas Creek and the Unconpaghe River in an area that is rich in wildlife and is well known for its nature walks and bird watching.
The middle entrance is the 300 acre Dutch Charlie site and this is the where you will find the boat harbor and marina where recreational boats are moored as well as a boat launch ramp. In the summer months this is also the home of two large campgrounds which provide excellent accommodation facilities for camper trailers as well as tent sights and picnic grounds. Fishing, boating, swimming and all sorts of water sports will highlight your stay here as well as nature walks and birding.
The third section of the park known as PA-CO-CHU-PUC is located beyond the dam itself in what is considered the ‘tail water’ of the dam. In this area water is released in a controlled flow that allows the Uncompahgre to continue on its root northward. The river at this point is very beautiful and it’s crystal clear waters are stocked with various types of trout and the ‘catch and release’ fishing in this portion of the river is considered to be some of the finest fishing waters in the area. There are also a couple of ponds located near the river that are stocked with trout and fish caught in these areas are permitted to be taken home for consumption.