Ridgway State Park
A drive 25 minutes south of Montrose on Highway 550 will take you to the beautiful Ridgway State Park. Known for fishing, boating, hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, and camping, this park has a little something for everyone. Be sure to stock up on water, sunscreen, snacks, and fuel as you're heading out of Montrose and grab a free park map from the Montrose Visitor Center.
A $9 day-use fee per vehicle provides you access to all 3 areas of the park, each with different entrances and experiences for visitors.
Thinking of bringing the pup with you? It's worth noting that this park is dog-friendly and a wonderful place for fetching, swimming, digging in the dirt, and trail running. Check out our guide to a dog-friendly Montrose vacation.
"Pa-Co-Chu-Puk" is the Ute term for "Cow Creek" and reflects the varied history of our region. Located below the dam, this site is best suited for fishing, camping, picnicking, and hiking. The Uncompahgre River, two fishing ponds, and multiple camping areas are the main features that draw people to the site known as "Paco" by locals.
Named after pioneer Dutch Charlie, the Ridgway State Park Visitor Center is located in this area of the park, along with a swim beach, boat ramp, hiking/biking trails, and two campgrounds. This is where motorized boats must launch and where the boat inspection station is -- it's also a great place to launch kayaks and paddleboards. The camping area in this section of the park also features yurts! The best views in the park are taken in from the Dutch Charlie area, specifically along the Cookie Tree Trail, which offers unobstructed views of the San Juan Mountains along with a bird's-eye view of Ridgway Reservoir.
Fly fishing, biking, lounging, wildlife viewing, launching non-motorized watercraft, and picnicking are the primary activities to enjoy in this area of the park. When the water is low enough, access gates are opened to allow vehicles to drive up to the reservoir's edge. You can also hop on the paved trail from here and take it all the way into the town of Ridgway. There is no camping in this area of the park.
Know Before You Go: Please remember that you must clean, drain, dry, and disinfect your boats before traveling to any reservoir in Colorado, especially when boats are brought in from out of state. Destructive aquatic nuisances can hitchhike on your boat without your knowledge and destroy these beautiful waters. As a reminder, to boat on Ridgway Reservoir, a pre-launch inspection is mandatory for all motorized and trailered vessels.