Ouray CO – “The Switzerland of The Rockies”

Ouray, Colorado, “Switzerland of The Rockies”, is far from ordinary. Known as one of the the most scenic towns in Western Colorado. It is a small town surrounded by towering alpine peaks 2000 feet above Main Street. If there is a Shangri-la this is it. Old world charm seems to hang around this place. This little town is pure fun.

From Ouray, the everthing is up. It is always fun to drop a quarter into the sidewalk telescopes and try to find a hidden mountainside mine or the famous hidden ladder.

Ouray Colorado

Natural Hot Spring Pool

Centuries Ago, The Utes came to this valley to enjoy the sparkling warm waters of the natural hot springs pools along the banks of the Uncomphrage River. They believed it had magical healing powers. Today visitors come here for the same reason.

It does have magical healing powers! Relaxing in the warm water and contemplating the towering Alpine peaks and the drifting clouds is a perfect cure for stress.

A Busy Summer Day at The Pool

The pool, owned by the town, has been completely remodeled, updated, and expanded. It is 250 feet by 150 feet with a warm section for soaking and a cooler section for laps. The water temperature varies from 70 to 104 F. It has something for everyone.

Prices are $10.00 a day or three days for $20.00, children 3-6 $5.00, seniors $8.00.

I love soaking in the pool, especially at night during a winter snowstorm, watching the flakes drift through the lights and disappear into the water. Leaving Ouray without soaking in the pool should be considered a felony. It is the best way I know to recuperate from an active day in the mountains.

The history of Ouray is the history of gold, silver and hard rock mining. It was gold that they were after in 1882. They found silver, in unbelievable rich amounts. Ouray has a nice little museum that tells the story of gold and silver. It has an excellent display of mineral specimens and it has a simulated mine shaft.

Stagecoach on The Old Toll Road

After the museum you might want to experience the real thing at the Bachelor-Syracuse Mine Tour, just a little ways out of town. You will ride 1800 feet into the mountain with a very knowledgeable guide and learn about mining and the life of the early miners.

Outside of the mine you can learn how to pan for gold and take homes a bit of Western Colorado gold.

And finally you can explore the mine country. There are thousand of abandon mills and old mines within 10 miles of town.  Ouray is also called “The Jeep Capital of The World” because of the hundred of miles of back roads that meander through and over the mountains. Years ago they were just wagon trails to the silver and gold mines. Today they are a great sight seeing adventure.

If you are adventurous, you can rent a Jeep or ATV, grab a map and explore on you own. The driver-guided tours in the open air jeeps are popular. I have never taken one but I have seen them all over the Ouray backcountry during the summer season. And they have a great safety record.

Box Canyon Falls

Box Canyon Falls Park is an extra ordinary city park. The falls has eroded an extremely narrow canyon five 500 feet back in the limestone. It is a unique experience. As you walk into the canyon you notice that the walls are polished smooth. First you hear it, and then you feel a slight shake on the boardwalk. Then you notice it is cooler. The air misty and it is getting darker and darker. Then you see the falls in a ray of sunshine from 285 feet above. The roar is deafening.

The park is open 8-8. The gazebos are a good place for a quiet picnic lunch. Admission is $3.00 adults, children $1.50 and seniors $2.50.

In the winter, “Have an ice day” has a very special meaning. Ouray is home to the World’s first ice Climbing Park. The Ouray ice farmers have created the best ice climbing park in the world. If you could create a wish list of the ideal characteristics for the perfect world class ice climbing conditions, the park has it all. It has ¾ mile of ice and 200 climbing routes.

The uncomphrage gorge is in the shade most of the day with ideal temperatures at night for making ice. The park in noted for “hero ice”, just right for picks and points without shattering. The water is gravity-fed from the city water tanks and the old hydro-electric power plant dam. The water is transported by a growing pipeline system,thus the park is getting bigger each year.

Ice Climber

Each January the Park hosts the Ouray Ice Climbing Festival. Four days of ice climbing competition and climbers from around the world. The special events include ice axe throwing and slack line walking, to name a few. Ouray no longer hibernates in the winter.

Tours Of Ouray

The walking tour of Ouray is splendid way to get some insight into the towns colorful past. The visitor center has a handle folder that descriptive a brief history of the 34 buildings on the tour. On this walking tour you will get alot of good excercise. Walking in Ouray is always “uphill both ways”.

A better way is to take the Stagecoach. You can tour Ouray in a historic horse drawn stagecoach or a romantic carriage. The carriage Company provides a pleasurable way to see this historic hamlet. Riding in the opening carriage, you feel like royalty.

The historic Carriage Company Tours depart hourly (1pm-6pm) for the 45 minute tour of Ouray. The also have beautiful white carriage for weddings and the evening rides. You can reach the Carriage Company at 834 Main Street, Ouray, Colorado 81427 970-708-4946 Ouraymule.com

If you are looking for the perfect setting for a romantic getaway, Ouray is the ideal Romantic Getaway You will love it.

Where to Stay in Ouray

Hotels

The Box Canyon Lodge

The Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs is Ouray’s most popular lodging and one of my favorite places to stay. The big attraction for the motel is the cleaniest, friendly people and four beautiful red wood springs feed hot tubs on the mountainside behind the lodge.

The St Elmo Hotel

We used the St Elmo Hotel as a base camp for a weekend of ATVing. Despite our large group of dusty riders showing up all at once, the hospitality and service was way above par. The rooms are cozy and clean with old Victorian charm. It is another good choice.

The Hot Springs Inn

The Hot Springs Inn is the most comfortable sleep in town at a reasonable. If you want to pamper yourself, this is the place. They have thought of everything and it is all brand new.

The China Clipper Inn

The China Clipper Inn is what cupid ordered. A cozy private fireplace and a large tub for two, with a view from your private deck that makes you feel you are in the French Alps.