Ouray, Colorado

A Victorian home on a side street in Ouray

Surrounded by peaks up to 5,000 feet higher than town, Ouray is also blessed with sulphur-free hot springs. One visit and you'll see why Ouray is often called "the Switzerland of America." Imagine relaxing in a flowing hot mineral spring, watching the sunset on the snow-covered peaks above. Ouray is blessed with many good hot springs bubbling to the surface in town. Several of these have been developed into excellent spas and health facilities.

Ouray was originally founded as a supply center for all the miners picking through the surrounding San Juan Mountains. At one point there were more than 30 active gold and silver mines in the area, and Ouray had more mules and horses than people in town.

In December of 1887, the Denver & Rio Grande Railway arrived in Ouray on a spur coming south out of Montrose. The train ran regularly until September, 1930, when it was decided that cars and trucks had taken away too much traffic to keep the run profitable any more.

As most buildings in town date back to the late 1800s, the entire town of Ouray is registered as a National Historic District. Many buildings in town are also on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ouray, Colorado
Looking down on Ouray from the south

Ouray boasts quite a number of recreational opportunities locally. Town is surrounded by the San Juan Mountains and Uncompahgre National Forest. The Alpine Loop makes its way into the east side of town from Lake City and Silverton. The San Juan Skyway winds through town following a north-south canyon. Mt. Sneffels, one of Colorado's famous Fourteener's, can be found directly to the west. On the other side of that ridge to the west is Telluride, famous for its cost of living, its skiing and its scenery.

Summer is Ouray's busiest time of year with visitors coming in from all over the world to soak up the views you can only get by driving the 4-wheel-drive mining roads through the ghost towns, old prospector cabins and other relics from Colorado's mining heyday, and then coming back to town to relax in the world-famous hot springs.

Ouray has gotten a lot busier in the winter lately with the January Ice Festival bringing in climbers to America's first ice park (dozens of sprinkler-fed waterfalls ranging from 80 to 200 feet high). The Ironton Dog Sled Races are now classed as a professional event and that draws a lot of spectators, too.

Ouray also has a wealth of fine shops and galleries displaying the works of many of the local artists. The local restaurants offer everything from homemade soup and fresh pastries to 4-course gourmet meals with fine wines.

Ouray, Colorado
Looking north on Main Street
The Beaumont Hotel in Ouray, Colorado
The Beaumont Hotel
The Walsh Library in Ouray, Colorado
The Walsh Library
Ouray Town Hall
Ouray Town Hall
Markets on Main Street in Ouray
Markets on Main Street
Photos are courtesy of TheArmchairExplorer, CCA-by-SA 4.0 License