Ridgway is a charming, western town situated in a beautiful mountain valley at the foot of the San Juan Mountains at an elevation of 6,985 feet. It has a population of about 950 people and yet boasts a vibrant community of energetic, creative, healthy, entrepreneurial, and diverse individuals. The town was founded in 1890, as the headquarters of the world famous Rio Grande Southern narrow gauge railroad serving the area’s rich silver and gold mines, ranches and farms. The town was named in the late 1880s after R.M. Ridgway, a superintendent for the Mountain Division the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. This explains why there is no “e” in Ridgway, whose name is continually misspelled by those less informed and sometimes even by those who should know better!
The city limits of Ridgway encompass the historic district of the town, which recently enjoyed a major renovation in the way of paved streets, wide sidewalks, trees, artistic lighting, and sculptures. As a result, downtown Ridgway has become an active, thriving center of shops, restaurants, pubs, art galleries, theater, music, special events, and local services where both visitors and locals gather year-round. In fact, Ridgway has recently become known as quite the foodie town. Ridgway is an outdoor haven. From downtown Ridgway, it’s an easy bike-ride, walk, or drive to the Ridgway State Park and Reservoir, numerous single track mountain bike trails of the Ridgway Area Trails (RAT) Group, the extensive, challenging hiking trails of Ouray County, fishing and river rafting on the Uncompahgre River, and cross-country skiing at the incredibly beautiful Top of the Pines recreation area.
Because of its spectacular scenery and rich history as a ranching town, Ridgway has become home to be many notable residents, including Ralph Lauren and his 20,000-acre Double RL Ranch, the late Dennis Weaver of Gunsmoke and McCloud fame, and Dennis Ergin, co-founder and CEO of EchoStar Communications Corporation, the parent company of Dish Network.
In addition to being the Gateway to the San Juans, Ridgway is an important junction to several of the other surrounding communities that Ridgway residents frequent for services, shopping, recreation, dining, and special events. Montrose is a 30-minute drive north, Ouray, 15 minutes to the south, and the world famous ski resort and historic town of Telluride, just 45 minutes west out of town. There is so much to see and do in and around Ridgway, once you get here, you will definitely want to stay a while, and maybe permanently!