Ouray, CO located in the southwest corner of the state is home to beautiful scenery, endless activities and is full of history. As we return to Ouray each year, we continue to find new treasures the area has to offer. Here are 5 things Ouray has to offer to make your trip one of a kind.
Ouray Shops and Local Grub
It’s always fun to go in the shops in Ouray. You can find everything from the common tourist shops to unique hand made items to local boutiques. Its neat to walk the streets of Ouray and see the old buildings or a deer walking down the dirt side roads. Most times its not a bad idea to bring your umbrella with you… just in case. Some of our favorites are Ouray Mountain Sports, Blue Pair and Bloom.
Once you’ve shopped till you’ve dropped, stop into Bien Tiempo for some delicious Mexican food (and ask about all the dollars on the ceiling). Their patio is nice to sit on a sunny day and watch the people walk by. Or head to the Gold Belt Bar and Grill for a slice of mouth watering pizza. Ben and I tend to disagree on pizza. He likes Chicago style deep dish pizza, where as I prefer New York style pizza. We both agreed that this was some of the best pizza we’ve had! We have heard the Outlaw restaurant is also excellent however, we have not yet tried it. Although there is always a line waiting outside the restaurant so it must not be too bad!
Just got back from a long day of hiking and looking for a cold brew to unwind? Check out Ouray Brewery or Ourayle Brewery (Mr. Grumpy Pants) along Main St. The Ouray Brewery is also a full service restaurant and at the bar has interesting chairs hung from the ceiling with large metal cables giving the brewery a unique feel. If you are headed towards Ridgway, the local Colorado Boy brewery has some tasty beers on tap along with some house made pizza that looked delish! The inside of the brewery is tight but the picnic tables outside offer a small town feel while enjoying your beer.
And you can’t forget to top your meal off without some ice cream! Ouray has a few ice cream shops along Main St. but we typically head to Pann’y Pizza and Ice Cream in Ridgway. They have a nice back patio that provides relaxing views of the majestic San Juans.
4-Wheeling in Ouray
Ouray provides some world class top notch 4-wheeling. You can travel for miles and go deep into the heart of the San Juans. However, most of the trails are not for beginners or the faint of hearts. There is some tough and scary terrain. However, the views are a major payoff. If you are not comfortable driving on the 4-wheel trails, Ouray has many Jeep tours to offer. Imogene and Engineer Pass are two of our favorites by truck. (Imogene is my favorite.) Both roads have old mines and waterfalls to see along the way. The waterfalls along Imogene are much more dramatic and impressive. Engineer Pass can connect you to Animas Forks Ghost Town but does not lead to it. I think you have to take Cinnamon Pass to get to Animas Forks.
Imogene Pass takes you way way way up and over the mountain and drops you into Savage Basin where Tomboy Mine is located. You can continue down Imogene into Telluride. This section of the pass can be nerve-wracking. The road is very narrow and there is no shoulder to give way to the very steep very long drop offs. It can be a nail biter if you come across someone headed the other way. (Side note: Tomboy Bride is an excellent book about a woman’s life at Tomboy Mine if you are looking for a good read.) On the way down to Telluride, you can see Bridal Vail Falls off to your left. Some of Ben’s favorite trails by motorcycle are Black Bear Pass and Pukipsie Gulch.
Hiking in Ouray
There is no shortage if hiking trails in Ouray. We have started a collection of trails we would like to do over the years. This past year we enjoyed the Neosho/Sutton Mine Trial. This 4.4 mile round trip hike has a steep and tough half mile start but provides a moderate hike to the Neosho Mine which you can see along the Million Dollar Highway. (See our previous article on the Neosho/Sutton Mine.) This trail also connects with the Perimeter Trail that outlines the Town of Ouray. Cascade Falls and Box Canyon Falls are short hikes, great for kids, that allows you to walk right up to the waterfalls. Cascade Falls are free and Box Canyon Falls cost $4 per person and good shoes are recommended. Box Canyon Falls also connect with the Perimeter Trail. We are hoping to cross Bear Creek Falls and Baby Bath Tubs trails off our list next year. Weather you are 4-wheeling or hiking, Ouray has nothing but breath taking scenery.
Ouray Hot Springs
The Ouray Hot Springs is a popular attraction since opening in 1927. There are a few pools ranging in temperature. You can sit in the warm pool and look at the jagged mountain peaks or head to the cooler pool and try not to slip off the obstacle course they have in the water. Open year round, the Hot Springs provides a day a family fun without spending a fortune. The Hot Springs in Ouray are one of the more reasonable priced hot springs we have been to. You can also buy fish food at the front counter and feed the fish and turtles in the koi pond on the side of the building.
Ouray is rich in history. You can feel it as you head into town. From the mining tailings, mills and ghost towns scattered amongst the mountains to the old buildings and gravel roads. Camp Bird, Animas Forks and Tomboy Mine are the more popular mines and ghost towns to see. There are quite a few smaller mines and mills to explore most people don’t go to. We have also heard the Ouray Museum is worth a trip. We did not have time this year but plan to go through it next year. A good activity for a rainy day!
There are many more activities Ouray has to offer. We hope to attend the Ice Climbing Festival held each year in January. If you are an outdoor enthusiast Ouray is the place for you!