Come winter, the mountains near the cozy community of Ridgway are covered in snow and call to nature-loving outdoor enthusiasts of all ages, interests and abilities. Whether you prefer adrenaline-packed, off-piste powder chutes or a family-friendly nature walk along the river, Ridgway is the quintessential Colorado winter destination.
Are you new to exploring the backcountry in winter? Ridgway and surrounding Ouray County offer limitless opportunities for adventure but be aware – these mountains are the real deal and venturing into the backcountry uneducated and unprepared is a recipe for trouble. The best way to fully experience the incredible San Juan Mountains is to hire a local expert. Local guide service, Peak Mountain Guides, offers backcountry ski touring, multi-day hut skiing trips, guided peak descents, ski mountaineering courses, and American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) avalanche courses. Their programs are geared toward a range of abilities and interests.
The Sneffels Range is known for rugged wilderness and primo backcountry skiing. Packed with troves of powder stashes, the fir-trimmed clearings of the Red Mountain Pass area let you skip the lift lines and swish through a winter wonderland. Backcountry skiing is a true high-altitude workout and avalanches can happen, even in a snowy paradise. We can’t overstate this: an experienced local guide is key for a great — and safe — time in Colorado’s winter wilderness.
While not for the faint of heart, hut tripping gives you a glimpse at some of Colorado’s scenery very few people have ever seen and the chance to sleep in a cozy hut right along the trail. 60 miles of scenic trails make up the San Juan Hut System. You can traverse the routes between Ridgway, Ouray and Telluride, stopping to shred on untouched bowls, couloirs and snowfields along the way. Know Before You Go: Backcountry skills and advance reservations are a must!
Heading into the backcountry and mountains surrounding Ridgway is risky and requires a high level of education and special equipment. The good news is that several outfitters and events can assist you in creating fun and safe off-piste backcountry experiences. Professional avalanche training is available to navigate terrain and weather forecasts, and help you develop the necessary skills.
Seeking an equally scenic but less extreme backcountry experience? Cross country skiing and snowshoeing provide access to the incredible vistas surrounding Ridgway. Kick and glide through 4 miles of corduroy trails at Top of the Pines. Or hike and snowshoe around the 14-plus miles of routes at Ridgway State Park, where you might spot elk, mule deer or Canada geese. Need gear? Ridgway Adventure Sports can set you up with snowshoes, skis, poles and more.
Only in Ridgway – a picturesque outing perfect for the entire family
The Uncompahgre Riverway paved trail extends from downtown Ridgway to Ridgway State Park and Reservoir, following the former Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad corridor. This ADA-accessible trail is maintained year-round, keeping it clear of snow so you can walk or bike from downtown all the way to Ridgway State Park – a stunning four miles each way. The trail links Hartwell Park in central Ridgway with Dennis Weaver Memorial Park, which offers 80 acres of permanent wildlife preserve, as well as a picnic area along the river.
Speaking of fat biking…
Ridgway Adventure Sports rents fat bikes and offers suggestions on where to ride. County Road 10 on Owl Creek Pass is open for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and fat biking. If pedaling on snow sounds daunting, these bikes are also great for riding the Ridgway Riverwalk paved trail along the Uncompahgre River.
Know your destination.
Know your equipment.
Know the weather.
Know your limits.
Trash the trash.
Leave it as you found it.
Be careful with fire.
Keep wildlife wild.
Other Winter Ideas for Things To Do in Ridgway
The Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce promotes business and community development in the Town of Ridgway and the surrounding area. The chamber operates the Visitors Center, which is currently closed until further notice due to COVID-19, and is located at 150 Racecourse Road, Ridgway, Colorado 81432 (across from Citizens Bank off of HWY 62).
P.O. Box 544
Ridgway, Colorado 81432