Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Relaxing Stay at Ridgway State Park

We've spent the past week at beautiful Ridgway State Park, just a few miles north of the laid back town of Ridgway and a few miles further to lovely Ouray, CO, a town where we spent two weeks in June 2013.

Our arrival in the area coincided with the last evening before our hiking buddies Mark and Bobbie, of Box Canyon Blog fame, departed for points south west. We caught up over pizza and drinks and said goodbye with the possibility of our paths crossing again in the desert.

Our stay in 2013 included numerous strenuous but incredibly beautiful high altitude hikes in the San Juan Mountains, blog posts related to those adventures can be found starting here.

This time we found ourselves feeling not very enthusiastic about hiking relentlessly steep trails starting at about 9,000 feet or more. That lack of enthusiasm combined with our trucks "check engine" light suddenly glaring at us from the dashboard had us limiting our driving and meant we had a relatively relaxing stay at Ridgway without any extreme hiking on the agenda.

Before that check engine light threw a damper on things we did a short hike on the Dexter Creek Trail. Like every trail around here (except the Uncompahgre River Trail) this one goes up pretty steadily with the distraction of a couple of interesting mine ruins. Unfortunately rain turned us back after 1.5 miles.

Pockets of color pop on the mountainsides,
remnants of the seasons first snow two nights before cling to the peaks.

Mining ruins dot the landscape in these parts, this one clings precariously to the hillside.

We took a day trip to Telluride, CO. The ritzy ski town sits in a gorgeous box canyon surrounded by freshly snow capped peaks and splashes of autumn color. We started our visit with a short but steep (of course!) hike on the Jud Weibe Trail. It's a serious workout with fantastic views of town and the surrounding mountains.

I am amazed that an expensive town such as this has a FREE gondola that takes us up the mountain to the ski area and over the top to the neighboring town of Mountain Village. The views are gorgeous!

A great view of Telluride from our lunch spot atop the mountain.

Telluride is a pretty place for a stroll.

On our drive home from Telluride the check engine light came on, indicating a potential problem with our Emissions Control System (ECS). With only 500 miles remaining on our ECS warranty we decided to limit our driving during the rest of our stay and made an appointment for our truck upon our arrival in Moab next week.

With Ouray a short drive from our campground we knew we had to hike the Perimeter Trail again. This five mile trail almost circles the entire town and offers up terrific views of this idyllic place. Even though we'd hiked it a couple of times during our previous stay, we still lost the trail at a confusing, poorly signed intersection; fortunately it is impossible to get lost with the town so close by!

Lovely Ouray in her Switzerland-like setting.

Small bear tracks seen on the Perimeter Trail.

Campground Review

Ridgway State Park has three different campgrounds to choose from, though options are limited in October. We stayed in the North campground, Pa-Co-Chu-Puk (Ute for Cow Creek), the only full hookup campground in the park. In October all sites are first come, first serve and if you arrive during the week you must go to the main park office (several miles down the road) to pay for your site.

We chose a site overlooking the Uncompahgre River, which is also the loop furthest from the highway. We'd heard internet signal could be iffy in this campground, but we had decent Verizon signal with our booster (2 - 3 bars of 4G).

Roads are paved, sites are concrete, picnic table, BBQ and fire pit at each site. Our site also had a tent pad. Some sites have a shade ramada over the picnic table. Most sites are pullouts, a few are back in, all looked nice and level. Site separation is good. It is very quiet at night.

Fishing is good here according to everyone we asked. There are two ponds where fish can be caught and kept based on Colorado fishing laws; fishing in the adjacent Uncompahgre River is catch and release only.

PS: We can highly recommend the crazy, unique, yet totally delicious tacos at Tacos Del Gnar in Ridgway!

View of Pa-Co-Chu-Puk campground from the Enchanted Mesa Trail.
The loop on the right is close to the highway and the noisy cattle guard at the park entrance.
We stayed in the loop at the center of the photo in a site overlooking the river.

Site 278, the river is just below us.

View from inside our RV.

View of our RV from across the river at the walk-in tent area.
Notice the fishermen in the river.

Rosie liked this park!

We often saw deer in the evening or early morning.

View of the mountains to the East, whose flanks are covered with colorful aspen, from the Enchanted Mesa Trail.
Notice the line of sheep across the grass.

Tomorrow we'll be on the road early to Moab where we'll drop our rig at Portal RV Park, then head straight to the Chevy dealer to take care of that check engine light.


  1. Such a lovely campground and gorgeous area! It's been years since we've been in Ouray and Telluride and we're way overdue for a return visit. Looks like early October is a great time to be there -- your photos of the fall colors are wonderful. I want to hike that Perimeter Trail! Love the photo of Rosie enjoying the campground.

  2. Such a bummer summer! Our original itinerary would have had us at the Portal RV park until 10/14. We've missed you guys again. There is pretty good mountain biking at Dead Horse State Park. I had to walk some of it, but by and large it was very doable and fun.

    1. Thanks for the Dead Horse tip!

      Our paths will cross again I am sure...we will be at Desert Trails in Tucson in Feb if you are returning to Tucson...

  3. Oh so beautiful! I need to get to CO in the fall one of these years....Good luck with your truck. Hope it gets fixed under warranty. Hey - my hubby and I will be in Bryce and Zion Parks in the week of Oct 19th. Don't suppose you'll be close by??? :)

    1. Darn! We are heading to Monticello, UT on the 19th so we can do a big hike in the Needles district of Canyonlands (the one Box Canyon just wrote about).

    2. No worries....just had to ask. We'll have to plan on hooking up for a hike next time you're in Oregon. :)

    3. Yes we do! We'll be in OR briefly in 2016, but intend to spend a lot of time there in 2017.

  4. Beautiful aspens in your pictures and the snow capped peaks add to it all. Nice to see it but not be in it. I think I'd love your site with the river as your view. I know what you mean about sometimes just not wanting to knock yourself out with a big hike. I'm currently in rest mode myself after finishing the AT through Shenandoah. Hope Moab can find the check engine light trouble. I think October may be the perfect time to be everywhere. :-)

  5. See you tomorrow afternoon :)
    Box Canyon Mark

  6. Beautiful country. We recently drove through the Rockies and stayed one night in Breckenridge. Wished we had stayed several days and hiked during this lovely time of the year. The wildlife and evidence of such you saw was wonderful. May we have the wisdom and foresight to always have such places to retreat to.

  7. What beautiful fall colors you're seeing! I'm definitely missing those golden aspens. Hope your check engine turns out to be a minor issue.

  8. One of my favorite areas in Colorado. We have yet to stay there when the leaves have changed. Looks beautiful. Good luck with the truck.
    Ingrid@ LiveLaughRV

  9. Such a pretty area! And you had your own sandbox at the RV park. LOL

  10. This is such a beautiful area and you were there at a perfect time - lovely colors. Love the kingfisher photo and Rosie looks beautiful. Hope your truck issue has a relatively easy fix!

  11. Beautiful colors in those mountains - and love those blue skies! Looks like the perfect spot to spend some time, with a pretty campsite, crazy tacos AND Rosie approved :-) We're hoping to do Colorado next year so will keep this one on the list for sure.

  12. Looks like a lovely campground in a great location.
    Boy those check engine lights are a pain. Ours keeps going on with DEF issues, or sometimes nothing at all.

  13. Looks much more pleasant than Mesa this week. Good luck with that check engine.

  14. Sometimes it is good to just relax a little (but I do understand how difficult it is). Steep climbing every day is tough. I don't remember where we were but I can recall saying to John that it would be nice to just have a nice flat walk one day as we crawled uphill.

    Several bloggers have been Ridgeway recently and everyone loves it. Your site was perfect! Love the river out the window.

    Sure hope all went well with the truck today. Have an amazing time in Moab!! We have a ton of blog posts since we've been there twice for a month at a time.