Ouray, Colorado has been a destination of world travelers for more than 100 years and is also known as the ‘Switzerland of America’ due to its breathtaking mountain views. This small, intimate community is nestled in some of the most rugged and towering peaks of the Rockies. At 7,792 feet and surrounded on three sides with 13,000 foot snowcapped peaks – Ouray is home to hundreds of miles of historic 4×4 roads, sulfur-free hot springs with stunning views, and world-famous ice climbing.
The Ute Indians who once inhabited southwestern Colorado came to the beautiful Ouray area to enjoy its natural hot springs. The same geologic forces that made the town rich in minerals and ore also produced some of the largest and most pleasant hot springs in the United States, which range in temperature from 80 to 150 degrees. Today, visitors and locals of all ages continue to enjoy the unique mountain setting and soothing waters found here.
In winter, Ouray comes alive with experiences and scenery that simply can’t be replicated in other seasons. Ice conditions in the Uncompahgre River Gorge are superb for the fast growing sport of ice climbing. Ouray is the perfect place to try out ice climbing, or to improve your skills, with the help of certified climbing guides. The Ouray Ice Festival brings athletes from around the world in January for clinics, competitions, demonstrations and much more. Spectators can try out ice climbing, ride a zip-line across the gorge, and marvel at the climbers during the competitions.
If you’re not feeling wild enough to try ice climbing, one of the best ways to experience the local history is by grabbing a pair of snowshoes or cross country skis and explore one of the many ghost towns deep in the backcountry of the San Juan Mountains. Prepare to step back in time, imagining what it was like to live in this extreme and spectacular landscape. For downhill skiing and snowboarding, make the quick drive to the epic ski resorts and areas in nearby Telluride, Silverton, and Durango. For more outdoor winter fun, Ouray offers an in-town, old fashioned sledding hill. An outdoor ice rink and free in-town ski hill with a rope tow is great, budget-friendly fun for families.
Spring, Summer and Fall Family Adventures
- Ouray is world famous for “jeeping!” Explore ghost towns and take in the beautiful mountain scenery with a 4×4 tour.
- Learn about history at the local museum
- Fish for trout in crystal clear waters
- Learn to climb on cliffs right in town
- Relax with a soak in the Ouray Hot Springs Pool
- Enjoy hiking in fall when the Aspen groves come alive with color
- End the day with a great meal and a cozy hotel in town
Ouray has 3 breweries, 2 distilleries, 3 coffee roasters, many restaurants and 2 chocolatiers. The historic downtown area also offers unique shopping options.
Whatever the season, Ouray is a great place to have a family vacation without breaking the bank. Soothing sulfur-free hot springs, 4 x 4 / jeeping tours, rock climbing, ice climbing, and unique history all make Ouray, Colorado a great place for adventure for the whole family!