Ridgway State Park has been on our wish list map since our first Big Trip in 2016, and it made a good place to relax, reset, and come down from our Crested Butte high as we began the long loop toward home. The main feature of the park is the Ridgway Reservoir, a long recreational lake tucked into a deep canyon, and the reason it had been on our wish list is its popularity as an RV camping destination.
We didn’t do anything in the town of Ridgway, but did make special note of Gnar Tacos, sadly closed the days we were passing through.
The campground in the state park is massive and split into two sections: Dutch Charlie, and Pa-Co-Chu-Puk. Pa-Co-Chu-Puk is mostly full hookup RV spots, and after six days without water and sewer, we reserved there without reading about the other options. Our site was close to the road so we had a bit of noise, but it was spacious and private and our view was of the cliffs across the narrow valley. Several deer visited our neighborhood in the evening and were NOT afraid of Bugsy, who wanted to chase them so badly she was practically sobbing.
There are some sites with river views at the back of the campground. The state park has two entrances, and if you camp in Pa-Co-Chu-Puk, you’ll have to drive (or hike) to the other side if you want to visit the reservoir.
When first arrived, we went exploring around the Dutch Charlie side to see the beach and the two campgrounds on that side of the park. The RV campsites in both campgrounds have power and access to shared water and a dump station. If you don’t need full hookups, this side of the park is way more scenic! Dakota Terraces Campground has mountain views seemingly from all spots, and Elk Ridge Campground, in a pinyon and juniper forest at the top of the hill, has trees and serenity and some amazing vistas from the cliffside sites. We’d stay there next time!
Ridgway has a few trails, but if you want some hiking distance on dirt and away from roads, there’s really only one option: the Enchanted Mesa Trail. The trail connects the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk and Dutch Charlie sides of the park, taking you high along the edge of the mesa with views of the reservoir and mountains beyond. The trail is well-maintained, and after the initial climb, it’s an easy and pleasant walk. It’s 2.5 miles between the two sides, and depending on where you start where you turn around, the total hike length is adjustable. We started from our campsite, a new favorite practice we somehow just figured out in Stanley, Logan, and Telluride, and clocked five and a quarter miles.
We were booked for two nights at Ridgway State Park, but felt like we were ready to move on around lunchtime the first day… and one of our favorite little mountain towns was calling to us from just down the road. So we lost a night in Ridgway, but picked up an unplanned night in Ouray!
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