Top sights in Ouray

Things to do in Ouray Colorado

Fall colors in Ouray Colorado
  • Time to visit

    All Seasons

  • Starting Location

    Ouray Victorian Inn

  • Recommended Duration

    7 Days to take in all the sites

  • Our favorite time of year

    Fall... the colors are amazing!

Beautiful Ouray


Whether you prefer the action of the peak summer months or the quiet of an off-season visit, everyone from outdoor enthusiasts to history buffs to relaxation specialists can find plenty to do in Ouray.  The natural hot springs, the Million Dollar Highway, Box Canyon waterfall, spectacular jeep trails, and challenging ice climbing routes are just a few of the things that draw people here year after year.

Year around, Ouray visitors can play in sulphur-free hot springs at the Hot Springs Pool, explore the mining history of the area at the County Historical society or the railroad history the Ouray County Railroad Museum, take the walking tour of well preserved Victorian era town in the Historic district, shop in the unique boutiques and art galleries on Main Street, and enjoy a range of high quality dining experiences at the town’s many restaurants and cafés.


Hot Springs in Ouray Colorado

Ouray Hot Springs Pool

Ouray’s Hot Springs Pool and town park are a perfect place to spend an afternoon. This year-around outdoor hot springs pool complex is filled with naturally heated mineral water.

The pool complex has an active pool for family friendly fun with water slides and a climbing wall as well as a diving area and game area for water volleyball, a shallow pool for families with younger children, and soaking pools as hot as 106 degrees with amazing views of the San Juan mountains that surround Ouray. A great place to spend the day.

Each season has its own charms and signature activities

The calm awakening of Spring attracts visitors looking for warm sunshine and snow capped mountains. The big-horned sheep and elk come down to graze along side the highway and eagles perch on nearby trees. The aspens and wildflowers are green and the town is coming alive; shops and restaurants are open but the streets remain uncrowded.

Summer means excitement and high energy as the mountain passes open up and the rivers and waterfalls start running. Ouray’s old-fashioned July 4th weekend is the highlight of the summer. Carrying on a 100 plus year tradition, the town puts on a party that includes a traditional parade on Main Street, picnics and the famous Firehose Water Fight. The weekend culminates with a grand Jeep parade down the mountain followed by a spectacular fireworks display. Back country jeeping and wildflower photography top the long list of things to do and see.

For many, Autumn is the best time to visit Ouray. The change from mid-summer is quite dramatic as the leaves begin to change. The brilliant fall colors bring photographers and visitors from all over the world. However, there is still much to do as summer activities usually extend into fall.

Winter brings the challenges of ice and the snowy beauty of the San Juan Mountains and signals the start of the winter sports season. In Ouray, ice climbing leads the list of active outdoor sports, though cross country and downhill skiing, sledding, ice skating, and snow shoeing are not far behind.

Ouray is truly remarkable in that there's so much to do in such a small area. From recreation to performing arts, Ouray has it all!

Björn Lodbrok

Box Canyon Falls Ouray Colorado

Box Canyon

Box Canyon Park and Waterfall is one of the most popular attractions in Ouray. There is an easy hike to the bottom of the falls or climb to the bridge above the falls for a spectacular view of Ouray. There are several gazebos in the park which make great picnic spots.

Hiking

There is a wide variety of hiking trails for both beginners and experienced hikers. Some hikes can be done in a few hours while others will provide an all day experience. All take you through some of the most amazing landscapes Colorado can offer: alpine meadows teaming with wildflowers, towering mountain views, cool mountain gorges and flowing waterfalls.

One of the most popular hikes is the Ouray Perimeter Trail. This family-friendly hike will take you around the top of Ouray with spectacular views of some of Ouray’s best loved icons: Mt Abrams, Hayden Mountain, Box Canon Falls, and the Amphitheater.

Other favorite hikes include the Blue Lakes trail, the family-friendly Baby Bathtubs, Cascade Falls, and the Portland trails, and the Ice Lake trail.

Hiking in Ouray Colorado

Hiking in and around Ouray Colorado can range from the very technical to family friendly jaunts!


Canyoning

Ever think about what lies at the bottom of those amazing canyons that surround Ouray? If so, think about joining a canyoning (or canyoneering) adventure offered by Canyoning Colorado. Spend a day rapelling through waterfalls, swimming in deep natural pools, and seeing the world from a whole new prospective.

Mountain Biking

Cyclists of all levels can spend several days in Ouray pedaling through the San Juan Mountains, accessing numerous back roads and trails that wind above and around Ouray, as well as access unlimited riding through the area.

Mountain Biking in Southwester Colorado

Trails abound for the avid mountain biker! The entire region is an amazing destination for enthusiasts. Enjoy Ridgway, Ouray, and Silverton biking at its best!


Popular Trails Include:
  • Portland Trail: Short and intense single-track (Approx 8 miles—1 to 2 hours)
  • River Road to Ridgway and back: Easy and scenic over rolling ranchland (Approx. 25 miles)
  • Dallas Creek Loop: One of our more difficult trails (Approx. 40 miles—3 to 5 hours)
  • Imogene/Last Dollar Loop: Extremely difficult and long over steep terrain (5 to 10 hours)

Fishing

Lake and river fishing is a popular activity for Ouray visitors. On of the best places for trout fishing is the on the Uncompahgre River in nearby Ridgway State Park. The river has a variety of both stocked and wild trout. The Cimarron River, San Miguel River and Gunnison River also provide excellent fishing opportunities.

The Ridgway State Park also has a 1000 acre reservoir that provides great fishing in a beautiful setting. A full service marina and plenty of access points allow for excellent fishing and boating opportunities for the whole family. Blue Lake and East Dallas Lake are nearby summer-only fishing areas as well.

A license is required. Tackle and license information is available at several locations including: RIGS Fly Shop and Guide Service and the Ridgway State Park.


Scenic Drives

The mountains surrounding Ouray provide some of the most beautiful scenery found in the US. While 4-wheel drive vehicles are needed for some of the more rugged routes, there are plenty of spectacular routes accessible by regular passenger cars.

The Million Dollar Highway (US550) between Ouray and Silverton is one of the most breathtaking stretches of highway in the country, especially in September when the Fall colors are at their best. The Million Dollar Highway is just part of the San Juan Skyway loop that will also take you through Durango, Cortez, and Telluride before circling back to Ouray. Completing the loop will take you by some of the highest mountains in the country as well as the abandoned mines that were the source of some of the richest mines ever found.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, about one hour north of Ouray also offers stunning scenery and plenty of opportunities for photography as do close by excursions like Camp Bird Mine and Owl Creek Pass.

Ahhh, the Million Dollar Highway. Driving this road is an adventure unto itself!


Ghost towns around Ouray Colorado

Exploring old Ghost Towns

There are some wonderful mining sites to explore in the San Juan Mountains. The remains of once-thriving towns can still be seen and visited, places like Animas Forks, Ironton, Red Mountain Town and Alta. These are tangible ties to Colorado’s mining history. Most sites are still accessible although they are disappearing due to age, extreme winter weather, and sadly vandalism. Be sure to bring your camera.
Mine Tours around Ouray Colorado

Mine Tours

Get a glimpse of Colorado history with a guided tour of a former working mine. The Bachelor-Syracuse Mine tour in Ouray or the Old Hundred mine in Silverton will take you into actual mines where gold, silver, and other precious metals were once mined. You can even pan for gold.

Photography

Just about anywhere you look in Ouray you will find a photograph worth taking. Mountains and alpine meadows, ghost towns and Ouray’s Victorian Main Street, wild flowers and wild life are easily accessible. In the spring Elk, Mountain sheep, and maybe even moose come down from the high country and wander freely along the highway, almost as if they are posing for the camera. Mule deer are a year around source of captivating wildlife photos as are the birds, marmots and chipmunks found the Box Canon Park.

In July and August landscape photography dominates. The wildflowers in Yankee Boy and Governors Basin stretch as far as the eye can see. Dozens of species provide an amazing display of colors and textures for small intimate photos or sweeping mountain vistas.

By autumn the fall colors dominate the landscape. Vast areas of golden Aspens, still green conifers, and snowcapped peaks bring photography groups and individuals from all over the world to the San Juans.


Durango-Silverton Railroad & Ridgway Railroad Museum

These two different activities offer a railroad buff an unusual opportunity to experience living railroad history. The historic Durango-Silverton train has been in continuous operation for 128 years, carrying passengers behind vintage steam locomotives and rolling stock.

In the opposite direction, Ridgway, long known as the birthplace of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad, is the home of a Ridgway Railroad Museum which is dedicated to the preservation of the history of railroading in Ouray County and surrounding areas. The annual Railroad Days brings people from all over the world to share in weekend of weekend of history, guided tours, talks and a symposium celebrating Ouray County's world-famous railroad heritage. Check our calendar for dates.


Ice-climbing in the Ouray Ice Park

The Ouray Ice Park is a world class destination, attracting ice climbers of all skill levels from near and far. The park is easily accessible to climbers and spectators alike; the entrance is located right next to the Victorian Inn. The Ice Park is created each year through a network of sprinklers that spray water down the canyon walls. These giant man-made icicles of glacial blue ice sparkle in the sunlight attracting even non-climbers into the park.

Each January, the Ouray Ice Festival attracts the best ice climbers in the country to the famous Ice Climbing Competition and everyone enjoys a weekend full of climbing clinics, demonstrations, and parties.

Ice climbing classes, clinics and private guides are available all winter to help new climbers master the basics or experienced climbers expand their skills. For more information on these offerings, contact San Juan Mountain Guides, Chicks with Picks, or International Mountain Guides.


Cross-country skiing & Snowshoeing

Opportunities for cross country skiing and snowshoeing abound in and around the city of Ouray. Within walking distance of town, numerous trails provide access to trails that take in the special charm of a Ouray winter. Some of the most popular spots include the Ice Park Trail and the Amphitheater.

A short drive in either direction will open up more challenging winter backcountry terrain. South of town at Ironton, groomed trails, with a set Nordic track maintained by the Ouray County Nordic Council. These trails run past the historic ghost town of Ironton in a fairly level valley. There are also miles of more challenging, ungroomed trails which pass by old mine sites and many scenic overlooks.


Our Recommendations

Even more to do around Ouray

Golf

There are several great golf courses an easy drive from Ouray, all with the mountains as a backdrop. The closest course is Divide Ranch and Club, an award-winning, 7,039-yard golf course at the foot of the San Juan Range. It is located in a high-mesa forest of pinon, juniper and ponderosa pine with phenomenal views of four Rocky Mountain peaks.

River Rafting

The Uncompahgre River with its Class II to III+ rapids, offers many opportunities for a river rafting experience with wonderful wildlife and scenery opportunities. Mild to wild river rafting trips are available on other rivers throughout the area. Contact RIGS Fly Shop and Guide Service for more details on available trips.

Horseback Riding

Horseback rides, from short 1-hour rides to all day excursions offer a different way of seeing the back country of the San Juans. Several livery stables operate in the area, including Deb's Livery and The Bach'lers Stable.

Back Country Skiing

The Uncompahgre River with its Class II to III+ rapids, offers many opportunities for a river rafting experience with wonderful wildlife and scenery opportunities. Mild to wild river rafting trips are available on other rivers throughout the area. Contact RIGS Fly Shop and Guide Service for more details on available trips.

Victorian Inn Ouray Colorado
ADDRESS & CONTACT
50 Third Avenue
PO Box 1812
Ouray, Colorado 81427
Phone: 1.800.846.8729 | 970.325.7222
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