Ouray is known as ‘the Switzerland of America’. With high mountain peaks and waterfalls in every direction you look, it certainly did remind me of Switzerland on a smaller scale. Before we arrived in Ouray in June (2015) I had never even heard of Ouray. But my grandma, the world traveler, recommended we go there and I instantly fell in love with the cute town and gorgeous scenery. There is a lot to do here, but these are the reasons to visit Ouray Colorado that were most memorable for us.
Reasons to Visit Ouray Colorado #1: Climb On!
Rock Climbing is right in town. How many places can you walk from your house or campground right to the climbing in less than 15 minutes? The approach is super easy, it’s right across the street from the visitors center and there’s also a great climbing area by the old skating rink. And as an added bonus, there are quite a few easy climbs that are good for kids or new lead climbers.
Reasons to Visit Ouray Colorado #2: JeepingYou haven't had an adventure until you rent a jeep and go four-wheel driving on the dirt roads in the mountains surrounding Ouray. #webraveforadventureClick To Tweet There are so many off-highway roads to explore. Popular routes include Yankee Boy Basin on the way to Telluride, or Imogen Pass and Animas Forks, an abandoned mining town, on the way to Silverton. The views are absolutely amazing! But beware! You may become jaded after seeing over a dozen cascading, towering waterfalls.
Reasons to Visit Ouray Colorado #3: Hot Springs
Also, right in the center of town, there is the Ouray Hot Spring pool. They have pools of varying temperature so you can find one that suits you. Personally, I like playing on the inflatable obstacle course in the colder pool (72 degrees), thawing in the warm one (90 degrees) and then baking for a few minutes in the super hot one (108 degrees!). They have a fun waterslide for the kids. If you don’t feel like swimming they also have a gym to get a workout in and there is great park outside, which holds weekly concerts in the summer.
Reasons to Visit Ouray Colorado #4: Perimeter Trail
This is a five-mile trail that, as its name says, goes right around the town. Ouray is nicknamed the Switzerland of America for a reason. The views are beautiful and one perk is you can’t get lost, the trail goes in a circle! It does tend to get muddy when the snow melts, so don’t try to hike it in flip flops like we did! There are tons of other great hikes in the area too!
Reasons to Visit Ouray, Colorado #5: Brewery
A favorite hangout for locals and visitors. This brewery has great brews on tap, good food, and awesome views. I especially like the swings you sit in at the downstairs bar. Helpful hint, don’t forget your ID! They card you if you look under 100 years old and mean it. I haven’t been carded in years and I had to walk all the way back to my campsite to get my ID.
Reasons to Visit Ouray, Colorado #6: Scrap Cookies
The first time I walked into Mouse’s Chocolate and Cookies and ordered the scrap cookie the lady behind the counter said, “Be careful, they are addictive,” to which I thought, Yeah right! I obviously watch what I eat and don’t have trouble controlling my sweet tooth. I was wrong. I couldn’t go a day there without eating one of these treats. Trust me. Leave your ego outside the door, along with your nutrition habits, and indulge!
Reasons to Visit Ouray, Colorado #7: Ice Climbing
Since we visited in summer there wasn’t any snow. However, I have friends who Ice Climb there and say it is amazing. This is a human made ice climbing venue right in the heart of town (actually it’s part of the perimeter trail). Best of all, use of the park is free (however, equipment and instruction aren’t). There are plenty of knowledgeable guiding services in town to teach you.
Reasons to Visit Ouray, Colorado #8: Camping
For me, the best part of staying here was that there is a campground right in the middle of town, which means you literally can walk to every one of these attractions right from your campsite and it makes it easy to do multiple activities in one day!
If you drive to/from Ouray via Durango, make sure to stop at the farm just north of Durango that sells the best grass fed hamburgers ever! Look for the sign on the side of the road. They also have a little shop that sells eggs, cheeses, and other specialty items.
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What do you like to do in Ouray? Tell us in the comments