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A guide to enjoying the winter in Ridgway, Colorado

Winter Guide

Ridgway is an incredible destination year round, however winter is truly a special time. Ridgway maintains its peaceful, creative vibe while shifting to adventurous winter recreation. Its arts and entertainment mostly come indoors into historic venues that foster our small town community feel.

Whether or not to travel this winter is a personal decision, and not an easy one. There are many uncertainties, but one thing we do know here in Ridgway is that small but meaningful actions can impact our ability to stay safe and enjoy the incredible public lands surrounding our close-knit community. If you choose to visit Ridgway this winter, we ask for your commitment to help control the spread of the coronavirus, and to support our fragile economy by safely spending and supporting our local businesses. Finally, we ask that you travel responsibly by educating yourself on outdoor recreation best practices, local ethics and community expectations.

As you plan your trip, we recommend sticking to the “know before you go” rule of thumb and doing research in advance so you know what to expect when you arrive. Please utilize these resources as you plan your winter vacation in Ridgway: COVID-19 General Response.

Winter Recreation

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. 

Recreating responsibly has always been at the forefront of our identity in Ridgway. Our community is proud of our long-standing effort to respect and protect all of our resources, from our incredible public lands to our equally amazing community. We pledge to communicate to our visitors and residents the most up-to-date information and resources so we can all make informed decisions.
San Juan LEADs Fat Biking

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 services, like Peak Mountain Guides, offer 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 typically geared toward a range of abilities and interests. 

A note about safe and responsible winter outdoor recreation

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.

Colorado Backcountry Winter Safety Pledge

Before heading into the backcountry, recreationists should acquire the tools and knowledge needed to recreate as safely and responsibly as possible.

Know Before You Go

  • Know your destination.

  • Know your equipment.

  • Know the weather.

  • Know your limits.

Recreate Responsibly

  • Recreate knowledgeably.

  • Recreate inclusively.

  • Recreate considerately.

Care For Colorado

  • Trash the trash.

  • Leave it as you found it.

  • Be careful with fire.

  • Keep wildlife wild.

San Juan Hut System Ridgway Colorado

San Juan Huts

Ridgway Adventure Sports

Ridgway Adventure Sports

Peak Mountain Guides Ice Climbing Ouray Ice Park

Peak Mountain Guides

Backcountry Skiing

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.

Cross-Country Skiing & Snowshoeing

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.

Self-Guided Hut Trips

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! 

San Juan LEADs Fat Biking

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. 

An Insider's Tip To Wintering in Ridgway

Ridgway State Park is open year round with peaceful yurt stays or pull your RV inside. You can enjoy hiking, snowshoeing and sledding, as well as birding and wildlife viewing, in the winter months. Know Before You Go by checking conditions at the Park before heading out, and reserve a yurt or RV site if you plan to overnight.

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.

Playground at Hartwell Park
Old Firehouse in downtown Ridgway

Who’s hungry (and thirsty!)?

Ridgway has been recognized as a top foodie destination in the state with six places taking top billing. Spend an early morning at Provisions at the Barbershop — you can’t get your haircut anymore, but you can get flaky pastries amid a very Instagram-able backdrop.

Lunch should be had at one of the top 15 mouthwatering taco shops in Colorado (according to Out There Colorado), Taco Del Gnar. We recommend the Drippy Mitch, aka the sloppy joe of tacos, with a side of queso blanco. Round out your day with stuffed Peppadew peppers, margherita pizza and a crisp Western Lager at Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery. You have lots of great options in Ridgway!

A Note About Winter Dining in Ridgway

Visit the Responsible Travel page on our website to learn about safety protocols Ridgway restaurants are taking to safely accommodate diners this winter. If dining in is not your thing right now, many of our restaurants offer take out. If you’re planning more than one visit to Ridgway this year (and why wouldn’t you be?), consider purchasing a gift card to use on a future visit.

Let’s go shopping!

No vacation to Ridgway is complete without an afternoon browsing our town center shops. You’ll discover uniquely crafted local products for everyone on your list, including toys for kids and pets, gear and clothing for outdoor adventures, flowers, jewelry and so much more.

Ridgway is home to a wide array of family-run businesses, local restaurants, independent art galleries and entrepreneurial ventures. Spending your vacation dollars at our unique stores, dining establishments, accommodations, and services preserves our community’s special character by supporting our economy.

A Note About Supporting Our Local Shops

According to Colorado Small Business Development Center, when visitors and residents spend $100 locally, $70 stays in the local community. Shopping local increases employment, the buying power of local workers, tax revenue, and government funds for long-term investments like infrastructure and education. Don’t forget: gift cards are also an excellent way to shop local and keep these dollars in the local community.

Channel your inner artist this winter

Ridgway is one of 26 Certified Colorado Creative Districts and you’ll find creativity on display around every corner.

Peek into galleries and workshops like Kane Scheidegger Fine Art PhotographyMountain Girl Gallery, Art by the Park, Cimarron Art Glass and Timber Creek GalleryRidgway is also a key stop on the Colorado Creative Corridor, a fun travel route that connects Ridgway with other creative districts in the region. 

Image of interior of creative arts store in Ridgway

Photo by Emily Riley

Insider Tip

Local musicians, chefs and artists are available for private parties and events where the number gathered is safe for current public health conditions. Check out the Ridgway Creative District talent directory for contacts.

Use This Winter to Learn or Master a New Skill

Learning is a life-long journey, and that journey continues in Ridgway this winter. Take an ice climbing class with Peak Mountain Guides, or learn about winter fly fishing and ice fishing with RIGS Fly Shop and Guide Service. In Ridgway State Park, the Uncompahgre River at the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk area is perfect for fishing all year

For backcountry education and life-saving skills, consider an American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) avalanche course from Peak Mountain Guides. This is crucial knowledge for anyone venturing into the wilderness surrounding Ridgway.

Finally, if you’re among the many families educating kids at home and on the road this year, you can all discover outdoor science and art adventures with Treeline Education.  

Sadly, the  COVID-19 pandemic has hit our local arts, music and cultural community very hard. In lieu of tickets to festivals and events this winter, consider a donation to support our creative community.

How you can support the local arts community

The Sherbino – affectionately called “The Sherb” or “Ridgway’s living room” by locals – is owned and operated by the Ridgway Chautauqua Society, a nonprofit organization incorporated in 2012 for the purpose of creating a community gathering places at the historic Sherbino Theater and in recent years at the 610 gallery and courtyard. These venues offer high-quality, diverse programming, with learning, creativity and culture at their core. The theater typically hosts more than 150 varied programs each year, engaging local as well as out-of-town talent, to inspire, educate and entertain. Go here to support the Sherbino.

A Unique Winter Spectacle

To observe a truly unique winter sporting event, visit San Juan Skijoring in Ridgway on January 8-10, 2021 and January 7-9, 2022. Skijoring, a mix of horseback riding and skiing or snowboarding, is a thrilling spectacle that combines our local ranching heritage with our love for winter sports. On a specially designed track at the Ouray County Fairgrounds, novice to advanced competitors and spectators from near and far come to entertain and be entertained.
Image of horse and rider pulling a snowboarder
Image of horses with riders carrying flags

Relaxed, rested and ready for more in Ridgway

Ridgway’s peaceful vibe and spectacular scenery provide what so many of us are seeking these days.
Entrance to Chipeta Solar Lodge

We believe in balancing our active outdoor pursuits with a little R&R in the form of yoga and meditation, a soak in the hot springs, a tranquil walk under our certified dark skies and a comfortable place to rest our heads at the end of a fulfilling day. Can you say ahhhhhhh?


With virtual classes offered each week, Ridgway Yoga Shala provides an opportunity to bring your practice with you on vacation. Join the supportive Ridgway yoga community from the comfort of your lodge – we hope you remembered to pack your mat!

Wellness Products

In addition to an on-site pharmacist who can fill all your medical prescription needs, Stacie’s Apothecary Shoppe also stocks over-the-counter products, essential oils and alternative chemical-free body care and wellness options.

Soak In Our Hot Springs

Orvis Hot Springs, southwest Colorado’s premier clothing-optional hot-springs resort, has eight outdoor soaking areas where you can breathe out stress and breathe in tranquility. Chipeta Solar Springs is a must for soaking in their solar-heated mineral spa, relaxing massage, yoga room and dining at the Four Corner's Restaurant.

A Note About Hotels, Spas & Hot Springs

Hotels, spas and hot springs have been able to reopen over the spring and summer and have established and refined their practices to operate and serve guests while keeping them safe. Check in, and check out our warm, western Colorado hospitality.

Your Stay Away from the Resort Crowd

Ridgway offers a variety of comfortable, safe lodging options from quaint and cozy bed and breakfasts to guest lodges, winter camping, tiny homes, and hotels and resorts with a full host of amenities. Each is unique in their own right, and provides an affordable, relaxing alternative to nearby resort destinations.