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!”
Ouray County 4-H Event Center & Fairgrounds
The Crown Jewel of Ouray County! Situated against a spectacular mountain backdrop, the Ouray County Fairgrounds and Event Center offer multiple venues for your special event, whether indoor or out, formal or casual, large or small, recreation or business, and all things in between. We can provide you with the perfect place for your event. Commercial event center for weddings, banquets, meetings and business retreats. The Fairgrounds plays host to San Juan Skijoring, Ouray County Fair, Labor Day Rodeos, team ropings, barrel races and all types of outdoor events.
Ouray County Ranch History Museum
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.