Ridgway State Park
The focus of Ridgway State Park is a large reservoir that provides waterbirds with one of their only stopping places on migrations through the San Juans. As a result, birding can often be very good on the water, with many species of ducks and shorebirds possible in spring and fall, along with Great Blue Herons, White-faced Ibis, and occasionally loons. Bald Eagles are likely to be spotted soaring over the water, especially from fall through spring. The south end of the park has a trail that goes through a nice riparian area where you may find breeding Western Tanagers and many species of migrants in season; American Dippers nest under the bridge over the small creek. Mule deer are frequently seen in the park, and the beautiful Juniper Hairstreak butterfly can be found around the campgrounds. And even if all wildlife evades you, the view of the San Juan Mountains from this park is absolutely not to be missed.
Habitat: Pond/Lake/Reservoir, Pinyon-Juniper Forest, Lowland Riparian
Directions: From Ridgway, travel north on US 550 to the Dallas Creek entrance to Ridgway State Park. To look at the lake, turn north past the entrance kiosk and then quickly left. One can drive out onto the shore here, with the usual caveats about care when driving on lake shores that might be wet. If the shore is too wet or if you don't want to drive there, one can continue north on the park road to its terminus to get reasonable views of the lake and shore. To visit the nice gallery forest at the south end, turn south past the entrance kiosk and travel to the end of the road and park; then take the trail that departs from near the bathrooms west toward the Uncompahgre River. To continue the tour of the reservoir and park, return to US 550 and travel north to the park's main entrance. However, on your way (particularly, if you don't enter the park), don't forget to scan the water from US 550. The highway has wide shoulders. From the main part of the park, bird the lake at the marina and at the dam end of the water. There is also fine landbirding in the extensive Pinyon-Juniper, with the campground hosting a particularly diverse mix of breeding species, including Black-throated Gray Warbler. If arriving from the north, follow these directions in reverse.
Delorme: 66 C3-C4
Roads of Colorado: 115 D1-D2
Dates of Access: Open all year
Ownership: Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Admission: State Parks Pass
Restrictions: Obey all rules and regulations
Parking: Paved parking lots
Lodging: Year-round camping, or hotels in Ridgway
Handicapped Access: Standard for Colorado State Parks. Fishing pier and some trails and campsites are accessible.