Situated at the intersection of US 550 (top of the Million Dollar Highway) and Colorado 62 (to Telluride) Ridgway is the northern Gateway to the breathtaking San Juans. The Ouray County Fairgrounds, along the southwest corner of that intersection, is host to the annual Rodeo and County Fair, held each year over Labor Day Weekend. From May through September, the fairgrounds also hosts a Sunday Farmers' Market, popular with locals from a four-county area who come for locally-grown fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, honey and flowers and a sprinkling of entertainment.
VISITOR CENTER & RR MUSEUM .
At the back of the fairgrounds, the green building is home to the Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center as well as the new Ridgway Railroad Museum. Parked out front, along with several boxcars and other rolling stock, is Karl Schaffer's Motor No.1, an authentic replica of the first "Goose" to ply the narrow gauge tracks from the 1930s to early 1950s. The museum is dedicated to the preservation of the history of railroading in Ouray County and surrounding areas. It offers interpretive exhibits, a reference library, educational programs, publications and sharing of information with historical and modeling groups. For more information, visit their website at www.ridgwayrailroadmuseum.org
RANCHING. Although Ridgway served as a railroad supply point for nearby mining towns, it has long-served the neighboring ranches, some of them (historically) spreading as far as the Utah border. Today, a number of huge ranches, some of the largest in Colorado, meander beneath the shadows of the towering San Juans. If you drive west, across the impressive Dallas Divide toward Telluride, and alongside the 14,000 foot Mt Sneffels and Sneffels range, you pass mile after mile of tidily maintained rail fence. Behind, graze thousands of head of cattle and horses. (Look closely, just west of Ridgway, and you may also spot a field of camels and llamas.) In spring and fall, you may see a cattle drive, making its way to or from the "high country."
HISTORIC DOWNTOWN - MODERN AMENITIES, Ridgway got its start as a railroad town, serving the nearby mining towns of Telluride and Ouray with the Rio Grande Southern narrow gauge railroad. Much of that railroad history is still there, not only in the railroad museum, but in the many still-standing buildings on the old main street, one north block of the highway. Historical buildings are designated by a purple ribbon. Stop by the Chamber for a walking tour guide. Some of the "old" buildings were actually built for the movie "True Grit," starring John Wayne. Others, such as the picturesque old firehouse (now a sculptor's studio), have been here a long time, but were "improved" a bit by Hollywood for the several movies filmed in this location. You will find a number of excellent restaurants and shops, both in the old downtown area, and on the east side of the intersection in the newer part of town. Be sure to check out Lupita's Bizarre Bazaar in the Rio Grande Southern Building. .
PARKS Ridgway's TOWN PARK is home to a number of festivals, including the annual Arts and Crafts Ridgway Rendezvous, the Town Park is also popular with locals who enjoy picnics under the shade of the park's century-old cottonwood trees. A walking/bike trail leading from the park heads north, along the Uncompahgre River, crossing over the old railroad bridge where the narrow gauge once ran to Montrose. (There are remnants of Ridgway's railroad past everywhere you look.)
Ridgway STATE PARK, just a few miles north, rated one of the best parks in Colorado. The 1000-acre reservoir offers fishing, boating, swimming, hiking and a full-service marina. Several campgrounds and a variety of facilities cater to every camping style, from the most primitive tent to the most luxurious motor coach.
RIVER PARK stretching from downtown Ridgway to the eagle-memorialized, Dennis Weaver Memorial Park, offers lovely water and mountain views, a picnic area with restroom facilities, and plenty of benches for sitting and contemplating the beautiful area that surrounds Ridgway.
RECREATIONAL PARIDISE. A recreational paradise, Ridgway and Ouray County offer myriad outdoor activities, including summer water sports, hunting, golf, tennis, horseback riding. In winter, enjoy skiing, snowshoeing, nordic skiing, snowmobiling. Hot air balloon rides are available all year long.
For more information about Ridgway, visit the chamber website at www.ridgwaycolorado.com/.