Ouray Colorado – Victorian-era charm, modern-day adventure
Ouray dubbed the “Little Switzerland of America,” 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. 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. Many of the jeeping trails follow historic narrow-gauge railroad grades or mining service roads, passing by countless ghost towns and abandoned mining structures. It’s possible through these trails to not only gain high peaks but also link regional towns like Lake City, Silverton, Ouray and Telluride over incredible mountain terrain, sometimes even within the same day. Located in southwestern Colorado, Ouray is also a short distance from many popular attractions, such as Black Canyon National Park / Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area (NCA), Telluride and the Durango & Silverton Train.
Summer is special in Ouray
Ouray comes to life in the summer, and for good reason. Enjoy the warm summer days and cool star-filled evenings in this family-friendly town, with lots to do for both adults and kids. World-famous for winter ice climbing, visit Ouray in summer and discover endless outdoor adventures with hiking, rock climbing, biking, rafting, fly fishing and more. When you’re finished with your outdoor activities, soak away the aches and pains of the day at Ouray Hot Springs Pool, and take in the stunning scenery from any vantage point. The fun doesn’t stop once the day is over. Ouray offers plenty of dining and entertainment options for all tastes. Not to be forgotten are the soon-to-be-famous local breweries like Ouray Brewery and Mr. Grumpy Pants, and FREE live music/entertainment for the whole family throughout the summer with the Mountain Air Music and Pickin’ in the Park Series.
Top 5 Day Trips from Ouray
Within two hours or less, there are many amazing day trips from Ouray that should not be missed.
Fly fishing at Pa Co Chu Puk
Fly fishing in and around Ouray means multiple options, with one of the state’s best tailwater sections only 15 minutes away at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk on the Uncompahgre River. Pa-Co-Chu-Puk, for the avid fly-fisherman or novice, is a fantastic one-mile section of catch-and-release only fishing, on the Uncompahgre River below the dam at the Ridgway State Park. Only artificial flies and lures are allowed. Brown, Rainbow, and Cutthroat trout await. Great fishing days can happen here at any time of the year. Other equally amazing options are the pristine high country perfection on the forks of the Cimarron, mind-blowing scenery and large fish on the Gunnison River, and the unique pine and red rock setting of the San Miguel River. All of these rivers are an easy drive from Ouray, but the best conditions will vary depending on the time of year. However, the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk section of the Uncompahgre offers year-round fishing, with some amazing hatches for every season. Stop by the fly shop for some advice or a guide, and regional flies to insure success.
Rafting near Ouray
There are several options close to Ouray that will fit the bill. Whether the San Miguel, Uncompahgre or Gunnison River, you will be able to get on a trip only minutes from your back door with RIGS, the only licensed rafting operator in Ouray County.
Million Dollar Highway and San Juan Skyway
The name says it all. This drive offers up “million dollar” views that will leave you breathless, taking you through some of Colorado’s most spectacular mountain passes and charming towns. The 24-mile section between Silverton and Ouray is by far the most stunning and dramatic portion of this classic drive. Going South from Ouray as you approach the summit of Red Mountain, you will pass old mines and abandoned buildings, including the ghost towns of Red Mountain Town and Ironton.
Also along this route are the trailheads for the Alpine loop and Black Bear Pass. For the more adventurous travelers who want to explore the backcountry, make sure you have a vehicle with four-wheel drive and high clearance. As you leave Ouray, you will pass the famous Ouray Ice Park on the right. Take a right at Camp Bird Road for access to the Yankee Boy Basin, or take the scenic route to Telluride via Imogene Pass – the 2nd highest drivable pass in Colorado at 13,100 feet.
Should you choose to do the San Juan Skyway from the other direction, take Highway 62 west off of 550 in the historic ranching town of Ridgway. Located in a beautiful open valley with expansive views of the Cimarron Range and the San Juan Mountains, Ridgway sits at the crossroads between Ouray, Montrose, and Telluride. Known for its family-friendly feel, Ridgway puts you right in the heart of regional outdoor adventures. Only minutes away from the San Miguel River, the Uncompahgre, and Ridgway State Park. Ridgway is the perfect place to stop, relax, and enjoy the outdoors.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a trip the whole family will never forget. This historic steam locomotive train ride has been in operation for more than 120 years. Enjoy 45 miles of Southwest Colorado’s canyons, abandoned mining camps, and the steepest peaks around. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is an ideal family getaway.
Owl Creek Pass and the Cimarron Range
Whether you are a backcountry enthusiast or an RV traveler, Owl Creek Pass and the Cimarron Range offer everyone a rare and unspoiled wilderness adventure. If you seek solitude, backcountry hiking, camping, or high alpine fly fishing, this is your place. Highlights include wild rainbow and cutthroat trout on the three forks of the Cimarron River, the scenic and remote Silverjack Reservoir, along with great camping and fishing below the dam at the Big Cimarron Campground. The area boasts excellent public access and is only about a 3-hour drive from Grand Junction.
Since its humble beginnings as a rowdy mining town, Telluride has always been a special kind of place. Now a cultural icon, visit Telluride for some of Colorado’s most spectacular scenery, a world-class mountain resort, world-famous festivals, culinary delights and outdoor activities that will leave you breathless.
Montrose is the region’s major commercial and transportation center. From Ouray, the conveniences of Montrose are only a 40-minute drive. For the outdoor enthusiast, Montrose is known primarily for the pristine beauty of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, world-class fly fishing at the East Portal in BCGNP, and the Gunnison Gorge . Raft or Float Fish in Gunnison Gorge NCA for an experience of a lifetime not to be missed.