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Explore Our Rich Frontier Past

Ridgway Railroad Museum

The Ridgway area offers something for every history buff, from picturesque, wooden, miningera buildings to scenic ranches and world-class museums. Prior to mining in the 1860s to 1950s, the valley and mountains were the homeland of the native Utes. As mining grew, so did the ranching and railroad industries that supported it. This diverse Western heritage is celebrated today by local storytellers and curators, who help preserve collections of frontier artifacts and historic homesteads weathered by snowy winters and sunny summers. Historical points of interest and museums await your discovery around town and along scenic drives around the area.

“Ridgway hits above its weight for a 1,000-person town. The diversity and quality of restaurants, businesses, and community organizations here is more of what you’d expect from a larger urban area. Match that quality of life with close access to the mountains and desert, and those are the reasons I love Ridgway!”
Jake, Ouray County Commissioner

Ridgway Railroad Museum

The Ridgway Railroad Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the history of railroading in Ouray County and surrounding areas.

Open daily June-September, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Open daily in May and October, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Railroad Museum Events

September 21 – 24 : Ouray County Railroad Days

Work week is a one-week long work session where volunteers put in four eight-hour days working on museum projects, followed by a one-day field trip. Anyone can help. We do everything from serious carpentry to painting to archival research to laying track. The outside work can get pretty physical. We typically have about 12 people, about half are local, half come from as far away as California and Texas. Other railroad museums and organizations have similar programs, notably the Cumbres & Toltec in Chama, NM and Antonito, CO - they have three work sessions with a one-week break; our week is timed to fall into that break, so some of our workers work in Chama, then come here, then go back to Chama. With a good crew and four eight-hour days, with all materials and tools on hand, we get a tremendous amount done in a short period of time. All of our members worldwide know about these dates, but we welcome locals, and would like to see more local participation, not just at work week but at the museum in general - we also have work sessions every Tuesday morning, except during winter. We provide free lunches, drinks and snacks each day. So it's not a big event where we try to pull in hundreds of people, but more local participation from people who want to dive in and do some serious work (and make good friends in the process) would definitely be welcome.

Native American Culture

Many geographic features in the Ridgway area are named in the language of the Utes, the area’s early inhabitants. The valley and the river that runs through it are named Uncompahgre, which is often translated as hot water, red water, or dirty water. While few cultural artifacts remain here, the Ute Indian Museum at the southern edge of Montrose is an important cultural center with artifacts and history about the Ute people and nearby archaeological sites.

How to Enjoy Ridgway Like a Local

Residents and businesses take great pride in our community and surrounding open spaces. We invite visitors to consider ways to minimize impacts and maximize local benefits. Traveling responsibly means educating yourself on outdoor recreation best practices, local ethics and community expectations.
  • Know Before You Go
    Be prepared and be informed about your destination.
  • Stick to the Trails
    Protect our natural land￾scapes by staying on the trails and roads.
  • Trash the Trash
    If you pack it in, pack it out.
  • Leave It as You Find It
    Camp in designated areas only.
  • Be Careful with Fire
    Follow seasonal restrictions, and keep campfires small and manageable.
  • Keep Wildlife Wild
    Leash your dogs, pack out waste, and don’t feed wildlife.
  • Share Our Parks & Trails
    Try out the lesser-known paths and sites, and minimize noise.

Be Prepared for Adventure

The San Juan Mountains are a rugged, steep mountain range rising to just over 14,000 feet. These beautiful public lands offer adventures year round. If you are interested in exploring the San Juans, be prepared for challenging terrain that sometimes requires technical expertise and knowledge of the area.

Come prepared by doing research online to find maps, rules and helpful guidance from public agencies and user-generated websites. Utilize local expertise when you get into town by stopping in at our local gear stores. We highly recommend working with our local guide services that employ experts who can help you achieve your goals for world-class recreation. You can also take a course in: backcountry skiing, avalanche safety, rock climbing, ice climbing, and other valuable outdoor skills.

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