Are you longing to visit Ouray this year? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Ouray. These breathtaking sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.
Nestled in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, Ouray is often dubbed the ‘Switzerland of America’. And for good reason! This picturesque town, with its cascading waterfalls, historic Victorian buildings, and dramatic mountain backdrops, is a haven for adventurers. Imagine strolling down Ouray’s Historic Main Street, where every corner tells a story of the Wild West. Or, soaking in the natural hot springs under a canopy of stars. From hiking scenic trails to exploring old mining sites, there’s no shortage of things to do in Ouray.
But it’s not just the postcard-perfect views that make Ouray special. It’s the spirit of the community, the rich mining history, and the endless outdoor activities. From the adrenaline-pumping ice climbing festivals to serene river walks, Ouray promises relaxation and adventure. And let’s not forget the scenic drives like the Million Dollar Highway. It definitely offers some of the most breathtaking views in the U.S.
So, if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle and immerse yourself in nature, Ouray is the place to be. In this guide, we’ll dive deep into the best things to do in Ouray. This will ensure you make the most of your visit to this Rocky Mountain paradise. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Ouray.
Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Ouray? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this idyllic vacation spot. So keep reading to discover all these unique Ouray places to visit.
Are you looking to explore historic streets lined with Victorian architecture and experience the allure of its Wild West heritage? Or would you prefer immersing yourself in natural hot springs nestled amidst breathtaking mountain landscapes? Whatever you’re planning, these must sees in Ouray can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Ouray that you should know about.
Ouray Ice Park is not just any park; it’s a winter wonderland for adrenaline junkies. Imagine a gorge filled with cascading frozen waterfalls, all waiting for climbers to conquer them. Coolest activities in Ouray don’t get more exhilarating than this! The park, which is free and open to the public, boasts over 200 man-made ice and mixed climbs. It’s no wonder that climbers from all over the world flock here every winter.
For those new to ice climbing, there are local guides and instructors ready to introduce you to the sport safely. And if you’re a pro, there’s always a new challenge waiting for you. The park also hosts the annual Ouray Ice Festival, a must-attend event that celebrates the sport with competitions, workshops, and gear expos.
After a day of climbing, warm up with a hot cocoa or a hearty meal in town. The park’s close proximity to Ouray’s main street makes it easy to transition from adventure to relaxation. So, if you’re looking for coolest things to do in Ouray, scaling the icy walls of Ouray Ice Park should be at the top of your list.
When you think about where to visit in Ouray, the natural hot springs should be on top of your list. These geothermal pools have been a beloved destination for both locals and tourists for generations. Imagine soaking in warm, mineral-rich waters while surrounded by the breathtaking San Juan Mountains. It’s the perfect blend of relaxation and awe-inspiring nature.
Ouray Hot Springs Pool offers a family-friendly environment with multiple pools of varying temperatures. There’s something for everyone, from the kiddie pool for the little ones to the hotter soaking sections for adults seeking a therapeutic experience. And if you’re in the mood for some action, there’s even a section with water slides!
For those seeking a more intimate experience, Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodgings offers a vapor cave and a secluded outdoor pool. The steamy cave, naturally heated to around 108°F, provides a unique spa experience you won’t find elsewhere.
After a day of hiking or exploring the town, there’s nothing better than immersing yourself in these healing waters. It’s one of the coolest activities in Ouray, and a must-do for anyone visiting this picturesque mountain town.
If you’re wondering about the best things to do in Ouray that combines both adventure and unparalleled beauty, then buckle up for the Million Dollar Highway drive. This stretch of U.S. Route 550 offers some of the most jaw-dropping views you’ll ever witness. As you navigate the winding roads, you’ll be treated to vistas of deep gorges, cascading waterfalls, and towering peaks.
Starting in Ouray and ending in Silverton, this 25-mile journey is a feast for the eyes. Every twist and turn reveals another breathtaking scene. And while the origins of its name are debated, whether it’s the cost of its construction or the gold and silver ore once scattered in its fill, one thing’s for sure: the views are priceless.
For the photographers out there, be sure to stop at the various overlooks. Bear Creek Falls is a popular spot, offering a picturesque waterfall cascading down the mountainside. And if you’re traveling in the fall, the changing aspen leaves create a vibrant tapestry of gold and red.
It’s undoubtedly one of the best places to go in Ouray for those with a love for scenic drives and nature’s grandeur.
One of the coolest activities in Ouray has to be exploring the wonders of Box Canyon Waterfall & Park. This natural marvel is where the roaring waters of Canyon Creek tumble down, creating a spectacular waterfall that’s surrounded by the deep, narrow walls of Box Canyon.
As you make your way into the park, the sound of rushing water grows louder, guiding you to the main attraction. The waterfall, hidden within the depths of the canyon, is a sight to behold. The force of nature is evident as water cascades down, creating a misty ambiance that’s both refreshing and mesmerizing.
For those seeking a bit of adventure, there are trails that lead you up to the top of the falls. From there, panoramic views of Ouray and the surrounding mountains await. It’s a must-see in Ouray for nature lovers and those looking to capture the perfect photograph.
Additionally, the park is home to a variety of bird species. This makes it a haven for birdwatchers. So, if you’re wondering where to go in Ouray for a mix of nature, adventure, and serenity, Box Canyon Waterfall & Park is the answer.
Best things to do in Ouray that combines history with nature? The Ouray Perimeter Trail is a top pick. This 5.9-mile loop encircles the town, offering hikers a comprehensive view of Ouray’s stunning landscapes and historical landmarks.
Starting and ending in the heart of Ouray, this trail is more than just a hike; it’s a journey through time. As you walk, you’ll come across remnants of the town’s mining past, from old mine entrances to machinery left behind by miners. These historical touchpoints, combined with the trail’s natural beauty, make it one of the unique places to go in Ouray for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
The trail’s moderate difficulty level ensures that it’s accessible to most, and along the way, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of cascading waterfalls, lush forests, and the majestic San Juan Mountains. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some local wildlife!
So, if you’re compiling a list of Ouray attractions, make sure the Ouray Perimeter Trail is right at the top. It’s an experience that perfectly captures the essence of this beautiful mountain town.
If you’re searching for unique places in Ouray that offer both natural beauty and a touch of adventure, Yankee Boy Basin is the spot for you. Located just a short drive from downtown Ouray, this alpine basin is a haven for wildflower enthusiasts, photographers, and off-road adventurers.
The journey to Yankee Boy Basin itself is an adventure. As you navigate the rugged 4×4 roads, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, cascading waterfalls, and fields bursting with colorful wildflowers during the summer months. It’s no wonder this destination is often touted as one of the coolest activities in Ouray.
Once you reach the basin, there are numerous trails to explore. Each trail offers its own unique perspective of the area. For those looking to capture the perfect shot, the backdrop of Mount Sneffels, one of Colorado’s famous 14ers, is simply unbeatable.
In a town filled with natural wonders, Yankee Boy Basin stands out as a must-see in Ouray. So, pack your camera, lace up your hiking boots, and get ready for an unforgettable day in the great outdoors.
Ouray’s rich history is deeply intertwined with mining, and there’s no better way to get a firsthand look than by visiting the Ouray Alchemist Museum. This hidden gem offers a fascinating glimpse into the town’s mining past. This makes it one of the unique things to do in Ouray.
As you step inside, you’ll be transported back in time. The museum boasts an impressive collection of artifacts, tools, and equipment that were once used by the miners. Each item tells a story of the challenges and triumphs faced by those who sought their fortune in the rugged San Juan Mountains.
But it’s not just about the artifacts. The museum also offers guided tours where knowledgeable guides share tales of Ouray’s mining days, from the early gold rush to the silver boom. It’s a journey that’s both educational and entertaining.
For those wondering what to do in Ouray that offers a mix of history and culture, the Ouray Alchemist Museum is a top pick. So, set aside some time during your visit to delve into the stories that shaped this charming mountain town.
If you’re wondering where to visit in Ouray for a breathtaking natural spectacle, Bear Creek Falls is your answer. Just a short drive from the heart of Ouray, this cascading waterfall is a sight to behold, especially after a rainfall when it’s at its most powerful.
The falls are accessible via a short hike, which is perfect for those looking to stretch their legs and breathe in the crisp mountain air. As you approach, the sound of rushing water grows louder, building anticipation for the moment you finally lay eyes on the majestic falls. And trust us, it doesn’t disappoint.
Surrounded by lush greenery and rugged cliffs, Bear Creek Falls is a photographer’s dream. Whether you’re an amateur with a smartphone or a pro with a DSLR, you’ll want to capture this natural wonder from every angle. And for the adventure seekers, there’s even a trail that takes you to the top of the falls. This offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
For those compiling a list of Ouray things to do, a visit to Bear Creek Falls is a must. It’s a reminder of the raw, untouched beauty that Colorado has to offer.
One of the cool destinations in Ouray to truly feel its charm is the historic Main Street. Lined with beautifully preserved Victorian buildings, it’s a delightful blend of the old and the new. As you walk, you’ll find a mix of quaint boutiques, art galleries, and cozy cafes, each offering a unique flavor of Ouray’s vibrant culture.
Main Street is more than just a shopping destination; it’s a journey through time. The architecture tells tales of a bygone era, while modern amenities ensure visitors have everything they need for a comfortable experience. And if you’re a history buff, many of the buildings have plaques detailing their storied pasts.
In the evenings, the street comes alive with the soft glow of street lamps, creating a romantic ambiance perfect for a leisurely stroll. And with the San Juan Mountains as a backdrop, it’s a scene straight out of a postcard.
For those compiling their Ouray to-do list, a leisurely walk down Main Street is a must. It’s a chance to immerse oneself in the town’s rich history while enjoying its modern-day offerings.
For those seeking a bit of adrenaline mixed with jaw-dropping views, the Ouray Via Ferrata is one of the best things to do in Ouray. This guided climbing route, set on the steep cliffs of the Uncompahgre Gorge, offers adventurers a unique way to experience the San Juan Mountains’ rugged beauty.
Via Ferrata, which means “iron path” in Italian, consists of metal rungs and cables fixed to the rock face. Even if you’re new to climbing, with the right equipment and a guide, you can safely navigate this thrilling route. As you make your way along the cliffside, you’ll be treated to panoramic vistas of Ouray and the surrounding peaks.
The entire journey is a blend of hiking, climbing, and traversing, ensuring that there’s never a dull moment. And the best part? Reaching the end and looking back at the challenging path you’ve conquered. It’s a testament to human ingenuity and the desire to connect with nature in unique ways.
For those wondering what to do in Ouray that’s a bit off the beaten path, the Via Ferrata is a must-try. It promises an unforgettable adventure that will leave you craving more.
One of the coolest activities in Ouray is a visit to Cascade Falls Park. Just a short walk from the heart of town, this natural oasis offers a refreshing escape. The park’s main attraction is the stunning Cascade Falls, a cascading waterfall that tumbles down a rocky cliff, creating a mesmerizing display of nature’s power.
The trail leading to the falls is relatively short. This makes it accessible to visitors of all ages. As you approach, the sound of rushing water grows louder, building anticipation. Once you arrive, you’re rewarded with a close-up view of the falls, surrounded by lush vegetation and rugged mountain backdrops.
For those looking for Ouray attractions that combine natural beauty with a touch of adventure, there are several hiking trails branching off from the main path. These routes offer varying levels of difficulty and lead to different viewpoints, each offering its unique perspective of the falls and the surrounding landscape.
Places in Ouray don’t get much more picturesque than this. Whether you’re a nature lover, a photography enthusiast, or just someone looking to enjoy some fresh mountain air, Cascade Falls Park is a destination that shouldn’t be missed.
For those intrigued by tales of yesteryears, the Ouray County Historical Museum beckons. Located in the former St. Joseph’s Miners’ Hospital, this museum stands as a testament to Ouray’s vibrant past. As you step inside, you’re immediately transported to a bygone era, with exhibits showcasing Ouray’s mining heritage, the Ute Indians, and the brave pioneers.
Ouray attractions aren’t just about nature; they’re also about the stories that shaped this town. The museum’s vast collection of photographs, artifacts, and displays paint a vivid picture of life during the mining days. Each room tells its own story, from the challenges faced by miners to the dreams and aspirations of their families.
But it’s not just history on display. The museum boasts an impressive mineral collection, a nod to the region’s diverse geology. And for those looking to take a piece of history home, the gift shop offers an array of books, souvenirs, and unique finds.
So, when you’re pondering where to visit in Ouray, make the Ouray County Historical Museum a top choice. It’s a journey through time, offering a glimpse into the heart and soul of this remarkable town.
Looking for more content on the top things to do in Ouray? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Ouray:
Ouray is a year-round destination, with each season offering its unique charm. Summer is perfect for hiking and exploring the waterfalls, while winter is a haven for ice climbing and soaking in the hot springs.
Absolutely! Ouray attractions cater to visitors of all ages. From easy nature trails to interactive museums, there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
How do you spend the day in Ouray?
Ouray, Colorado, often referred to as the “Switzerland of America,” is a charming mountain town. It’s known for its stunning natural scenery, outdoor activities, and historic charm. Here’s a suggested itinerary for spending a day in Ouray:
- Breakfast at a Local Café: Start your day with breakfast at one of Ouray’s cozy cafés or bakeries.
- Visit Box Canyon Waterfall & Park: Take a short hike to this impressive waterfall located in a narrow box canyon. The park offers trails and viewing platforms to enjoy the scenery.
- Explore the Ouray Perimeter Trail: This 5.9-mile loop trail offers breathtaking views of the town and surrounding mountains. You can hike a portion of it if you’re short on time.
- Ouray Hot Springs Pool: If hiking isn’t your thing, consider a relaxing morning soak in the Ouray Hot Springs Pool, with its mineral-rich waters and stunning mountain views.
- Lunch in Town: Enjoy lunch at one of the local restaurants, offering everything from casual fare to gourmet dining.
- Ouray Alchemist Museum: Visit this unique pharmacy museum, showcasing artifacts and the history of pharmaceuticals.
- Stroll Through Downtown: Spend some time exploring Ouray’s historic downtown, filled with Victorian architecture, shops, galleries, and museums.
- Jeep Tour or Drive the Million Dollar Highway: Consider taking a guided Jeep tour or drive along the scenic Million Dollar Highway (U.S. Route 550) for breathtaking views and photo opportunities.
- Ice Climbing or Rock Climbing (Seasonal): Depending on the season, you might opt for ice climbing or rock climbing with a local guide.
- Dinner: Choose from a variety of dining options in Ouray, ranging from casual eateries to fine dining establishments.
- Sunset Views: End your day by catching a beautiful mountain sunset. Consider spots like the Twin Peaks or Cascade Falls for great vantage points.
Ouray is easily accessible by car. If you’re flying, the nearest major airport is Montrose Regional Airport, about an hour’s drive away.
Yes, Ouray is a popular destination for ATV enthusiasts. This offers a plethora of trails that provide breathtaking views of the San Juan Mountains. The town even has several rental shops where visitors can rent ATVs and receive guidance on the best trails to explore.
Absolutely! Ouray, often referred to as the “Switzerland of America,” boasts stunning mountain scenery, historic charm, and a myriad of outdoor activities. This makes it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.
What are some fun facts about Ouray?
Ouray, Colorado, is a fascinating destination with a rich history and unique characteristics. Here are some fun facts about Ouray:
- “Switzerland of America”: Ouray is often referred to as the “Switzerland of America” due to its stunning mountainous surroundings, reminiscent of the Swiss Alps.
- Hot Springs: Ouray is famous for its natural hot springs, and the Ouray Hot Springs Pool is a popular attraction, offering mineral-rich waters with therapeutic properties.
- Ice Climbing Capital: Ouray is considered one of the premier ice climbing destinations in the world. The Ouray Ice Park attracts climbers from around the globe during the winter months.
- Million Dollar Highway: Part of U.S. Route 550, the Million Dollar Highway connects Ouray to Silverton and is renowned for its breathtaking views and hairpin turns. The origin of its name is debated, with some attributing it to the road’s high construction cost, while others claim it refers to the value of gold and silver ore used in the fill.
- Mining History: Ouray was once a booming mining town, with rich deposits of gold, silver, lead, and zinc. The area’s mining heritage is preserved in local museums and mine tours.
- Box Canyon Waterfall & Park: This natural wonder is located in the heart of Ouray and features an impressive waterfall plunging into a narrow box canyon.
- No Traffic Lights: Ouray has maintained a small-town charm, and you won’t find a single traffic light within the city limits.
- Film Location: Ouray and the surrounding area have been used as filming locations for various movies, including the original “True Grit” starring John Wayne.
Absolutely! Ouray boasts a variety of accommodations ranging from historic hotels and cozy bed and breakfasts to modern motels and cabin rentals, ensuring visitors find the perfect place to rest after a day of adventure. Whether you’re seeking luxury amenities or a budget-friendly stay, Ouray has options to suit every traveler’s needs.
Nestled in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, Ouray, often referred to as the “Switzerland of America,” is a gem waiting to be discovered. From its breathtaking natural wonders to its rich history, this small town offers a unique blend of adventure and relaxation. Things to do in Ouray are as diverse as its landscapes, ensuring that every visitor leaves with cherished memories. Whether you’re scaling icy waterfalls, strolling through its picturesque streets, or simply soaking in the views, Ouray promises an experience unlike any other. So pack your bags, set your sights on the mountains, and get ready for an unforgettable journey in Colorado’s outdoor paradise.