Situated at the base of the northern San Juan Mountains, Ridgeway State Park is an outdoor oasis that the whole family will love. The park's incredible landscape can be traced back millions of years when massive glaciers carved their way through the area to create the mountains and valleys we see today. The park is renowned for its fossil deposits (which also date back millions of years), and in more recent times, the land was used for panning gold, silver, lead, zinc, and copper. Even those previously uninterested in geology will find themselves in awe of the huge rock formations and the stunning scenery in the park. But there's more on offer here than just rocks -- visitors to this Colorado park also enjoy a plethora of outdoor recreation during all four seasons.
Hike or bike the 14 miles of trails through an array of different ecosystems, fish along the Uncompaghre River, or take a dip in the Ridgeway Reservoir. Paddleboarding and boating across the reservoir is a great way to spend a summer afternoon at the park, and plenty of picnic tables await you onshore when you're ready for some sustenance. Hunting of both big and small game is allowed at various times throughout the year in designated areas. During the colder months, the snow transforms the park into a winter wonderland and visitors can partake in cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and snowshoeing.
Once you've had your share of fun for the day, you can retire to one of three RV- and trailer-friendly campgrounds within the park. Nearly 300 sites are available between the campgrounds, most of which offer electric and some of which offer full hookups.
Located in southwest Colorado at the base of the San Juan Mountains, Ridgway State Park is a nature lovers dream. Although the park is far from any big, metropolitan areas, major route US-550 runs directly through the park, making it easy for RVers to navigate, no matter which direction they're coming from.
Smaller park roads can be accessed directly from this large road and will take you to all the park's major attractions, including the Visitor Center, the campgrounds, picnicking areas, various trailheads, and the boat launch. When you enter the park, your vehicle must have a Colorado State Park Pass displayed in the window. If you are in need of a pass, head to the self-service station near the entrance or the Visitor Center. Winter weather may affect road conditions, so be sure to check the local forecast before heading out.
Additional parking areas within the park are plentiful and are located near the reservoir, the campgrounds, the Visitor Center, and the picnic pavilions. If you're staying overnight, you can set up camp at your site and walk or bike along the park roads to get to where you need to go.
Located in the Dutch Charlie Recreation Site, Elk Ridge Campground is the most popular of the three at Ridgway State Park. Here, RVers will have scenic views of the surrounding San Juan Mountains and be in close proximity to the reservoir. Due to the campground's location in a juniper forest, most sites offer full shade. Guests will find 98 campsites spread between two loops.
All sites are equipped with electric hookups, picnic tables, fire rings, and cooking grills. Parking pads are concrete and maximum lengths vary from 40 to 65 feet. ADA-accessible sites are available, as are ten tent-only sites located near Loop E. Restrooms with pay showers, a laundromat, a dump station and vending machines can be found nearby, along with a playground for the kids, additional parking spaces, and access to various hiking trails. This pet-friendly campground is open from April through October, and reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
The Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground is located along the picturesque Uncompahgre River in the north of the park and offers full hookups at 81 RV- and trailer-friendly sites situated between two loops. Along with full hookups, each site is equipped with a picnic table, a fire ring, and a cooking grill. A few ADA-accessible sites are available, and 15 tent-only sites can also be found on the other side of the river. Guests staying a Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground will be close to restrooms with pay showers and a laundromat. The family will never get bored at this pet-friendly campground, as a playground, fishing ponds, a picnic area, and volleyball courts and horseshoe pits are all located nearby. The campground is open from April to October, and reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
Dakota Terraces Campground is also located in the Dutch Charlie Recreation Site and features scenic views of both the San Juan and Cimarron Mountain Ranges. Three loops consist of 76 campsites that are available for RVs and trailers and come outfitted with electric hookups, picnic tables, fire rings, and cooking grills. Parking pads are concrete and maximum length restrictions vary between 50 and 70 feet. ADA-accessible sites are also available.
Nearby, guests will find restrooms with pay showers, a laundromat, and vending machines. A dump station, additional parking, numerous trailheads, and a playground are also located in the vicinity. Dakota Terraces Campground is pet-friendly and is the only campground that remains open year-round. Reservations are available for up to six months in advance.
If you're looking for a more glamorous camping experience, or if you just want to get out of the RV for a night or two, consider renting one of the park's three yurts. Located in the Dutch Charlie Recreation Site off of Loop A in the Dakota Terraces Campground, these yurts are outfitted with thermostat-controlled heat, ceiling fans, electricity, a refrigerator and microwave, and a kitchen table with chairs. The yurts can sleep up to six people with a twin-sized bunk bed and two queen-sized futons.
Outside, guests will find a front porch outfitted with a picnic table, an elevated grill, and a fire ring for campfires. Restrooms with pay showers and drinking water are located nearby. All guests will need to bring with them is bedding, cooking supplies, and eating utensils. The yurts are available all year round, and reservations must be made in advance if you hope to stay in one of these unique tents.
Ridgway State Park is surrounded by nature, so even if you couldn't secure a campground directly inside of the park, you won't have to go far to find a place to park the RV for a night. The park is bordered by national parks and forests in all directions, the closest being Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. At under an hour to the north, this national park offers nearly 100 RV-friendly sites with electrical hookups. A few miles further east sits Curecanti National Recreation Area. Here, guests will find hundreds of remote RV campsites and a few sites that offer electric hookups.
If you're looking to stay closer to Ridgway State Park, there are a number of private RV resorts that offer a wide variety of amenities like full hookups, seasonal swimming pools, and, of course, scenic views of the iconic mountain ranges.
An RV vacation to Ridgway State Park would not be complete without spending a day boating on the 1,000-acre reservoir. The crisp, cold water of the lake, along with incredible mountain views will surround you as you paddleboard, water ski, sail, or windsurf across this man-made body of water. If you didn't haul your own gear along, paddle boats and life jackets are available for rent at the Dallas Creek shoreline and the main boat ramp area.
With approximately 14 miles of scenic trails, you won't want to forget to pack your hiking boots when you bring the motorhome to Ridgway State Park. Whether you're an avid hiker or just looking for a relaxing stroll, you are sure to find a path that fits your skill level. The most popular stretch of trail in the park is Mear's Bay Trail. This paved, one-mile trail is ADA-accessible and offers scenic views of the reservoir and the San Juan Mountains in the distance. There are also three self-guided trails available at the park, making it easy to learn about your surroundings as you walk. Maps are available at the Visitor Center.
Colorado summers can be real scorchers, with temperatures reaching into the 80s during July and August. Luckily, there is plenty of water at Ridgway State Park, so you won't have to go too far to find a reprieve from the sun. Once you're ready to take a dip, head to the Dutch Charlie Recreation Site. Here, you'll not only find a sand swimming beach, but modern changing rooms with lockers and outdoor showers are also located on-site. Swimming is also permitted on the shoreline in the Dallas Creek Recreation Site. No lifeguards are present at the park, so swimmers should bathe at their own risk, and children must be accompanied by an adult.
With over 140 species of birds spotted here, its no wonder that avid birders love Ridgway State Park. Waterfowl and shorebirds take advantage of all the water available at the park, and Goldeneyes, Sandhill Cranes, and Great Blue Herons can all be seen at the reservoir and the three streams that surround it. If you're visiting in the summer, you may catch sight of Golden Eagles, Black-chinned Hummingbirds, and Mountain Bluebirds, to name a few. You can find a checklist for all the bird species spotted in the park at the Visitor Center.
Avid anglers and first-timers alike will be able to appreciate all the fishing opportunities available at Ridgway State Park. The Ridgway Reservoir is stocked with Kokanee Salmon and brown and rainbow trout, and smallmouth bass are so plentiful in these waters that there is no bag limit. The Uncompahgre River is also a great spot to reel in some dinner, as are the two fishing ponds located near the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground. Two ADA-accessible fishing piers are available: one on the Uncompahgre River near the River Walk Trail and one on the reservoir near the boat ramp. If you didn't bring your own poles and tackle along in the Airstream, head to the Visitor Center to loan some out at no additional cost.
Don't hesitate to load the bikes onto the Sprinter before coming to Ridgway State Park, because there are nearly 14 miles of trails here waiting for you. The trails vary in length and difficulty, so whether you're looking to cycle a paved path along the reservoir or looking to fly down some steep slopes, there is a path that you will enjoy. Once you've exhausted all the trails within the park, there are additional trails just east of Highway 550. Head to the Visitor Center for trail maps and additional mountain biking tips.
The fun never stops at Ridgway State Park, not even when the snow begins to fall. Once there's a thick enough carpet of snow, winter sports enthusiasts flock to the park to enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities. Cross-country skiers can enjoy over three miles of packed trails, and anglers can venture out to the reservoir to enjoy some ice fishing once there's a healthy layer of ice. For those that prefer the calm that winter brings, hiking trails are still available and photography is also popular in the park at this time of year.
If you're lucky, you may spot some unique wildlife during your time at Ridgway State Park. Keep your eyes peeled for small mammals like mink, marmot, and chipmunks along the trails and in the campground area. Mule deer are some of the more extroverted inhabitants of the park and can be seen all year round. Other large mammals like bobcats, elk, bighorn sheep, black bears, and even moose have been known to wander through the park from time to time.