Two hours south of here, just off Hwy 50 between Montrose and Ouray, lies the little hamlet of Ridgway. It’s famous for having been the backdrop for John Wayne’s “True Grit” once upon a time. These days Ridgway is known more for its outdoor recreation, funky restaurants, and Ridgway State Park.
This park overview map from the Ridgway SP website is a great place to start.
The park has 3 sections: The Pa-Co-Chu-Puk section is below the dam and is great for fishing, camping, and wildlife viewing. It has camping sites with full hookups, but not much shade. There are also walk-in tent sites that provide a great wilderness experience with the closeness of a bathroom and showers.
The Dutch Charlie section is above the dam and has the only boat launch area of the 3 sections of park. It also has a swim beach, two campgrounds, the visitor’s center and hiking trails. There’s a great overlook point off of the D Loop of Elk Ridge Campground at Dutch Charlie with beautiful mountain and reservoir views.
Finally, Dallas Creek is the day-use area. Here, in the spring, you can drive your vehicle right up to the water and enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, and other non-motorized water sports. There are also walking trails here and of course bathroom facilities.
So that’s the overview of the park system, but WHY do we love Ridgway State Park?
- The views. From most campsites at Dutch Charlie you can have a view of the reservoir or of the Sneffels Range.
2. The campsites. Most of the sites at Elk Ridge offer great privacy – especially on the outer portions of the loops. There are lots of trees here too, mostly juniper and pinyon, so you’ll see squirrels, birds, and sometimes the local deer herd. The sites at Elk Ridge all have electricity too.
3. The variety of activities. You can bird watch. You can hike. You can bike. All of that can happen without moving your car. Depending on which campground you’re in, you can also swim, boat and kayak. Even if you DO have to drive to do that, you’re only in the car for maybe 5 minutes. You don’t have to leave the park at all.
4. It’s close to bike trails. There is actually a trailhead for the RAT (Ridgway Area Trails) mountain bike trails just across the road from the Dutch Charlie entrance. Another trailhead is less than 10 minutes away off Owl Creek Pass road.
5. It’s close to a great little town! Ridgway is an awesome place to visit. There are great restaurants like Taco Del Gnar, True Grit, and Colorado Boy Brewery. There’s great entertainment (when that’s allowed again) at the Sherbino Theater and in the park.
Best of all? Ridgway State Park is less than 2 hrs from Grand Junction. It’s the perfect weekend or week-long getaway! It’s also a great location for testing out your camper for the first time. With Montrose close by, if you need something for your RV that you forgot and desperately need (like a hose for filling your water tank) you’ll be able to find it!
Ready to shop for a new RV and plan a trip down to Ridgway? Click here.