Explore our Public Lands
DIY Activities and guided trips go hand in hand in SW Colorado. Guide trips can be a great way to get to know the region before you go out on your own. Then once you are more familiar with a technique and location, doing it on your own won’t seem so daunting.
The Uncompahgre Plateau is a sizeable high-elevation mesa in southwestern Colorado with an average elevation of around 9,000 feet (2,743 meters) above sea level. Named after the Uncompahgre River, which flows through the area, the river has its headwaters in the San Juan Mountains. It flows through the Uncompahgre Wilderness before eventually joining the Gunnison River in Delta, Colorado. This unique terrain is characterized by rugged terrain, steep canyons and deep gorges carved by the Gunnison River, the Uncompahgre River and other tributaries. There are many stories about the meaning of the work Uncompahgre in the Ute language so it is hard to say the exact translation. An interview with Chief Magook in 1918 said it means “hot water,” but it has also been referenced to mean hot water that turns rock red.
The San Juan Mountains and Uncompahgre Plateau are rich in history and culture, with ancient ruins, rock art sites, historic mining towns and ghost towns scattered throughout the region. The area was home to the Ute tribe for centuries before European settlement and the mining history of Otto Mears. This history is a rich and important part of the area’s heritage, offering visitors a chance to experience the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the American West.
The Uncompahgre National Forest Wilderness Area sits between the towns of Ridgway, Lake City, Silverton, Gunnison and Ouray, Colorado. Covering over 102,000 acres, the Uncompahgre Wilderness is home to elk, mule deer, mountain lions, black bears, moose, lynx, brook and rainbow trout, and many species of birds. Also known for its summer wildflower bloom with over 300 species of plants growing in the region, it is easy to understand why it is a popular destination for outdoor recreation, including hiking, photography, climbing, fishing, birding, camping, backpacking and hunting. Perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who seek access to solitude, pristine natural surroundings, and the opportunity to experience the beauty of the Colorado Rockies. These public lands are managed by the United States Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Bureau of Land Management agencies, which all work to preserve the area’s natural and cultural resources for future generations.
We experience the full four seasons in SW Colorado with Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn; all having distinctive characteristics. It is always recommended to check the weather before you arrive but know that the only thing consistent in Colorado’s weather is that humidity is usually low (5% on windy days and 50% during active rain or snow) and just when you think you know what the weather is going to do it changes. Pack you bags with all possibilities in mind. Weather can be at 80 degrees and sunny one minute and drop 20 degrees with rain the next.
WANT YOUR OWN GEAR?
HOURLY PADDLE SPORTS
WESTERN SLOPE REgional Activities
Things to do in SW Colorado
Fun things to do in Colorado – Regional Ideas for Family Activities and more
Whether your Southwest Colorado trip brings you to Ridgway, Ouray, Telluride, Silverton, Montrose or Grand Junction, there are plenty of fun things to do in Colorado. Let RIGS help you plan your Colorado vacation. Looking for guided fly fishing and paddle sport adventures? RIGS is dedicated to helping you find the best trips to enjoy getting on the water in Southwest Colorado. RIGS Fly Shop is conveniently located in Ridgway, Colorado within striking distance of all the region’s best adventure activities. Interested in a guided adventure? Give us a call at 970-626-4460 and one of our friendly and helpful reservation agents will guide you to the right trip for you or your family. For more information on the various destinations in this region, click on the links below:
Ridgway is nestled in the picturesque Uncompaghre Valley and surrounded by the majestic snow-capped peaks of the Cimarrons and San Juans, some of the most photographed mountains in the world. The town is located at the northern entrance of the San Juan Scenic and Historic Byway, one of America’s most spectacular highways. With nearly 300 glorious days of sunshine a year, it is the perfect town to enjoy and explore a broad spectrum of outdoor activities and year-round cultural events.
Ouray is a historic and charming Victorian-era mining town surrounded on all sides by snow-capped peaks and set at the narrow head of a deep valley, dubbed the “Little Switzerland of America.” Come to Ouray to hike miles of nearby established trails, go 4-wheeling in the “Jeeping Capital of the World,” or soak in the natural hot springs revered by the Ute Indians, who came here for the spiritual qualities attributed to the hot springs waters.
Telluride has always been a special kind of place. Now a cultural icon, visit Telluride for some of Colorado’s most spectacular scenery, freestone rivers, a world-class mountain resort, world-famous festivals, culinary delights, and outdoor activities.
Silverton, once known for mines, prospectors, saloons and a seedy red-light district, has transformed into the place to be for extreme adventure sports. Visit once and you will come back year after year to explore the magnificent mountains, clear cold rivers, and charming Victorian history.
Montrose, known primarily as the region’s major commercial and transportation center, should not be overlooked as a destination. With over 260 days of sunshine a year, along with mild summers and winters, Montrose is a four-season paradise surrounded by glorious mountains, canyons, mesas, rivers, lakes and scenic byways in every direction.
Grand Junction, named “Grand” for the historical upper part of the Colorado River and “Junction” for the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers, is a city perfectly situated for exploring the Grand Mesa and the Colorado Wine Country. What’s more, it’s all within striking distance of the natural wonders and beauty of the San Juan Mountains and the Cimarron Range of southwestern Colorado.
Looking for more information about our Public Land Partners, National Parks Info and more. Look through our Regional Information Page.
MAPS & BOOKS
FLY FISHING RENTALS
Walk-In DIY Fly Fishing Rentals – We offer a variety of fly fishing rentals that you can use on a your DIY exploration of the region (independently of a guided trip). All guided trips include Sage rods and reels with Simms waders and boots. Like to get out on your own but don’t want to travel with gear. We are here to help you get out on a regional river or lake with quality fly fishing rentals and solid fishing advice.
Looking for other rentals like Stand Up Paddle Boards, Kayaks or whitewater gear? Go to our Paddle Sports Rental page for Hourly rentals at Ridgway State Park and more.
Combo Fly Fishing Rental
This combination includes a pair of Simms waders and boots and an Redington that is a 5 weight depending on availability.BOOK NOW
Fly Rod/Reel Rental
This rental features a rod, reel, line, and leader. Our rental lines are Redington Rods in a 5 weight depending on availability.BOOK NOW
Our wader/boots rental includes either Simms, Patagonia or Orvis waders and boots.BOOK NOW
Wading Boots/Neoprene Socks
Simms Guard socks and Simms wading boots, the perfect setup for those blistering hot days on the water.BOOK NOW
When returning your rental gear be sure to follow a few of our guide lines to avoid additional charges.
1) Please consult with our reservation staff for specific policies and guidelines regarding our rental equipment.
2) All RIGS Rentals must be returned in the same condition rented – with reasonable use/wear.
3) Please return rentals clean and without mud or debris. We provide two hose areas at the fly shop to clean equipment before returning.
4) Upon return, we will assess any excessive damage or loss of equipment and notify you if an additional charge applies.
COLORADO FISHING LICENSES
Colorado Parks & Wildlife – CPW Fishing Licenses are now even easier to purchase.
Non- residents or residents only interested in a short-term license will find having a license as easy as having an email or picture on your phone.
Things to know before you go on your guided trip or purchase a fishing license:
- What is a CID number? A CID number is a series of numbers much like a social security number that CPW creates as an identifier for your license (fishing or hunting) with the State of Colorado.
- BEFORE BUYING a license online, existing customers SHOULD LOOK UP their CPW account using their CID number and set up their account/profile, while new customers will need to create an account in the new purchasing system. Basically, whether you have had an existing Colorado Fishing License or new to Colorado fishing, you will want to FIRST create an account here.
- All customers will need to choose a unique identifier, such as CID, driver’s license number, passport number, etc. and password to create or log in to an online account. A unique email is no longer required to log in, meaning families can now use the same email address for all purchases and applications.
- Email is still required for customers to get their purchase receipts, draw notifications, account update notifications, password resets, etc.
- Due to the transition of CPW’s new integrated Parks and Wildlife purchasing system, RIGS requires all fly fishing clients to prepurchase their license online before departing on a fly fishing guided trip.
- Purchase your fishing license HERE
Things to know about CPW licenses when buying online:
- Each license year runs from 4/1 – 3/31: Annual fishing licenses go on sale starting March 15th of each year.
- Customers may use Visa, MasterCard or Discover credit cards. Visa, Mastercard, or Discover debit cards only work if they can be used without a PIN.
- Licenses are mailed the business day following the purchase.
- In most cases, licenses purchased online will reach you by mail within 10 days or you may pick up your license at a license agent location or Colorado Parks and Wildlife office with your TAN number.
- A temporary authorization number (TAN) is all you need for 1 or 5-day fishing licenses. Your TAN# works as a substituted for the license(s) purchased but is only valid for 14 days from the date of purchase. Please print or write down the TAN# and carry it with you while fishing until you receive your license. If the license OR all of the licenses you purchase in this transaction expire in less than 7 days, you will NOT receive anything in the mail.
- When you receive your license, review it for accuracy and sign it to validate it. If there are any issues, please contact the call center at (303) 297-1192 or a CPW office.