travel tuesday: our favorite colorado state park

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It’s okay to play favorites when it comes to travel destinations. We love exploring new areas, which we hope to do soon, but also enjoy going back to a place with more than 20 years of good memories. So heading to Ridgway State Park for a weekend getaway was a much-needed respite from our crazy work schedules.

Our first visit to the park was in 2001 when the kids were 8 and 9. We still lived in Missouri then, so our trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, Moab, Four Corners, Mesa Verde National Park and then to the San Juan Mountains was a real treat. Such a treat that we just keep going back!

This go ’round, relaxation was the goal. We took Walden on some hikes on the park’s awesome trails, slept in, took a scenic Jeep ride on the Last Dollar Road, took a nap and grilled some burgers. Life is good in Ridgway.

Lupines on Last Dollar Road.

Last Dollar Road is the four-wheel-drive option to get from Ridgway to Telluride. We didn’t go in to Telluride this time, but the gas station at the roundabout before town is a great place to get fuel and snacks and hit the restrooms.

John Wayne’s classic “True Grit” was filmed in Ridgway and Ouray. This location was featured in the opening and closing scenes.

Barbeque sandwiches at the Saw Pit Mercantile on the way back to Ridgway filled up our hungry bellies, plus their back deck is-dog-friendly. Walden didn’t know what to think about the wooden stairway leading up to the deck—we live in a ranch-style house—but he walked up with a little encouragement. And then ran all the way down. He’s a quick study!

On the Forest Discovery Nature Trail in Ridgway State Park.

The campground is tough to book, but if you can get a site you’ll love the 14 miles of trails, beach, reservoir, views, playgrounds and restroom/shower facilities. You can go hiking, biking, birding, fishing, boating, swimming, paddle boarding, wind surfing, wildlife watching…the list of activities goes on and on. A couple of yurts are available in addition to the campsites. There are also educational options, including the Forest Discovery Nature Trail that includes historical information and exhibits on the Ute Indians who lived in the area prior to 1860.

We also love Rifle Gap State Park and Rifle Falls State Park. Stay tuned for more Tales From the Empty Nest.

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