Home to the jagged peaks of the San Juan Mountains, Ouray, Colorado is holding onto to its historical mining town roots while working as a basecamp for both summer and winter adventure. Although gold and silver were the original drivers to this quaint yet stunning part of Colorado, ice climbing, jeeping, and mountain biking now feed the local economy. If you’re looking to escape the crowds, traffic, and over-priced accommodations found in much of Colorado, Ouray will not disappoint.
What to do
Both winter and summer offer a number of activities giving visitors a reason to travel to town year-round.
Winter: Known as the ice climbing capital of the U.S., Ouray is home to a world class ice climbing park that is located a half mile from downtown. Ice farmers use sprinkler systems to build frozen waterfalls in the Uncompahgre Gorge, producing hundreds of stunning climbs for first timers and veterans alike. With local guides, an annual ice climbing festival, and plenty of ice both in the park and in the backcountry there is no better place to learn this true mountain sport.
Other than ice, you can find plenty of snowshoeing and skiing options off of Red Mountain Pass, which separates the Ouray and San Juan counties. If you’re searching for resort skiing nearby, look no further than Telluride. Be sure to take in the view as you discover the area, as the impressive mountain peaks will be sure to evoke any memory you may have of Swiss landscapes.
Summer: While hiking and mountain biking options are abundant and worthwhile, Jeeping is the main summer attraction. Local outfits will guide you through the San Juan’s giving you access that would not be possible without these trucks. If you’re feeling confident in your off-roading abilities, renting your own rig for the day is also an option.
Where to stay
The Matterhorn Inn. This quaint hotel located in the center of downtown has been fully remodeled with a modern touch. New beds, flat screen TV’s and hardwood floors are standard in every room, giving you a chance to pamper yourself after a day of adventure. Free breakfast in the morning and a hot tub waiting for you in the afternoon gets this place a five-star rating for accommodation in Ouray.
Telluride – Here you will find a classic ski resort town about an hour south of Ouray. This area is home to scenic hiking around Bridal Veil Falls, music festivals throughout the summer, and a downtown pulled straight from a storybook.
Silverton – This mountain offers backcountry skiing accessed by a single lift, heli-drops, or guided ski tours. This is not your typical resort by any means, but for those who are looking to push their limits in a somewhat controlled environment, this is the place.