Top of the Pines was acquired by Ouray County in 2002 from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Grand Junction Chipeta chapter of the U.S. Girl Scouts when they decided it was no longer feasible to maintain a camp here.
When the Girl Scouts decided to let this camp go in the '90s and it looked like it might become private property, the Ridgway community jumped in. Funds were raised to purchase it, and then it was turned over to Ouray County to maintain as a magnificent public resource.
When TOP, Inc., took over management of the property in 2002, the buildings were in a serious state of disrepair, and debris littered the site.
There was one small water storage tank, a decaying 40-year-old building originally used as a dining facility, inadequate electrical wiring and plumbing, no parking, unusable toilet facilities and an access road in desperate need of repair. The Girl Scouts had virtually abandoned the property for decades, resulting in no maintenance or oversight during that period.
Recognizing the investment potential and reality of such a large restoration project, TOP, Inc. adopted a phased development approach.
Phase 1 was funded by GOCO (Great Outdoors Colorado) in 2007. Restoration of basic infrastructure began, which included work on the pavilion foundation, plus improving toilet facilities and utilities.
Phase 2, currently underway, includes completion of the interior of the pavilion and enclosure of the warming hut so that it can be used as an additional break-out room for environmental education groups and as an amenity for skiers and snowshoers, making it a year round facility.
With revenue generated from user groups and continued fund raising efforts, our goal is to continue upgrades and expansion as needed.
Today, TOP helps to assure that this beautiful setting of 175 acres at the base of the San Juan range remains open to public use for hiking, biking, and cross country skiing. Day use is by donation and overnight camping is available for a nominal fee. TOP is a very popular site for weddings with one of the best scenic backdrops in the nation.