The northern San Juan Mountains are a spectacular high-country playground with glorious mountain scenery and many choices for outdoor activities. There are also many choices for camping, from commercial campgrounds to primitive national forest spots. One really excellent camping option is Ridgway State Park near the town of the same name. The park offers access to the Uncompahgre River and the Ridgway Reservoir, some full RV hookups, and services like laundry and showers in a location that is very close to all the mountain adventures.
Ridgway State Park has three named campgrounds, Dakota Terraces, Elk Ridge, Pa-Co-Chu-Puk (affectionately called “Paco”), and three yurts. Pa-Co-Chu-Puk is in a separate section of the park, about 5 miles from the other campgrounds. It is also below the dam and does not have lake access, but it does have river access and two fishing ponds. All the RV sites at Paco have full hookups, and most are very spacious and scenic sites. There are 15 walk-in tent sites that are located across the river (and a LONG walk from the parking lot). Some of the tent sites have panoramic views of the river, and most are very private, though small. The entire park is fairly new (the dam was completed in 1987) and is impeccably maintained. The facilities are first rate, and the volunteer and paid staff do a great job. A few sites are even kept open all year round.
Paco is particularly noted for its fishing. The Uncompaghre River is catch-and-release only and is a highly-regarded trout stream, and the ponds are stocked. Within an hour’s drive are the mountain towns of Ouray, Telluride, and Silverton. Also in the area there are several historic hot springs, historic mines like Yankee Girl and Colorado Boy, top-notch trails like Blue Lakes, Ice Lakes Basin, and the climb to Mount Sneffels, one of the 53 Colorado 14ers.
Little-known facts about Ridgway: Ralph Lauren owns a 55,000-acre ranch nearby, all the Grammy Award trophies are hand made in Ridgway, and much of the film “True Grit” was filmed in the area.